By Ron VandenBoom
CHINOOK Lt. Gov. Judy Martz took a brief detour from the campaign trail Friday to drop off a check for $61,100 at the Blaine County Wildlife Museum.
The check, a grant from the Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program of Travel Montana, will be used to complete a buffalo jump display and other projects within the museum complex.
"This program is something that is very important to the state of Montana," Martz said, during the presentation. "There were only five such grants given out this year and your museum received the second largest of the $200,000 in grants."
The museum made two previous applications for grant funding for the new museum before finally making the list on the third attempt.
"Receiving the grant shows not only the persistence of the community, but the commitment of the community," said Victor Bjornberg, tourism development coordinator for Travel Montana. "It is something that you are willing to go forward on with your own money, out of your own pocket, to develop for your future."
So far, the museum has raised approximately $146,000 toward completion of the project, said Stuart MacKenzie, a board member for the museum.
He told those attending the presentation that he expects the museum will need about $100,000 in additional funding in order to complete the renovations.
The money received from Travel Montana will mostly go toward completion of a life-size diorama of a buffalo jump that is already under construction in the northwest corner of the museum, Mackenzie said.
The display will feature several life-size buffalo caught in the act of falling over a cliff.
Buffalo jumps and kill sites were commonly used by Native Americans to acquire food, and other necessary items for survival, by driving the bison over a steep hill and killing the injured or trapped animals.
MacKenzie said some of the money might also go to complete the museum's bird display and to pay for repairs on the museum's roof.
MacKenzie also said about 50 percent of the museum's inventory has been acquired already and he estimates it will take three to four years to complete the facility.
"I think you're really to be congratulated," Martz told the crowd as she presented the check.