By Tim Leeds
The Havre Rotary Club held the first Havre Community Service Organization Luncheon at the VFW Club at noon Wednesday, Jan 31.
The luncheon was titled "State of the City."
"We hope this will continue on an annual basis," Rotarian Al Beute said. "It will help Havre roll forward into the near future."
Beute said the luncheon was giving everyone the opportunity to hear what different groups had been doing and planned to do. He said it would let people know what has gone on in the last year and what Havre's future looks like.
There were 10 representatives of local government, organizations and businesses who spoke at the luncheon, over a meal made and served by members of the Havre VFW and the VFW Auxiliary. Each representative was asked to keep their address to five minutes or less, although some went a little over time.
Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard spoke for the city government; Commissioner Doug Kaercher spoke for the county; MSUN Foundation Executive Director Tom Reynolds spoke on behalf of Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Alex Capdeville, who was testifying before the Montana Legislature; General Manager Debbie Vandeberg spoke for the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce; Superintendent Kirk Miller spoke for the Havre Public Schools; Executive Director Paul Tuss spoke for Bear Paw Development Corporation of North Montana; President and CEO David Henry spoke for Northern Montana Health Care; General Manager John Magyar spoke for Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association; Montana Division Superintendent Bob Stender spoke for Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad; Manager Al Beute spoke for General Electric Technical Services in Havre.
The material the speakers covered varied, including services provided, projects completed and plans for the future.
Leonard and Kaercher focused on the many services provided by the local governments. Leonard also addressed specific projects completed and plans for the future.
"Havre has made mighty strides in these past several years," she said at the beginning of her 20-minute address. She said much of the credit has to go to the efforts of an excellent city council, the department heads working for the city, as well as the general employees and police and emergency personnel.
Reynolds said the university is an operation in transition, just as the local governments and the state are in transition. He said Capdeville is leading the university with a vision of the future.
"Our future looks very bright," Reynolds said.
He said the university is conducting feasibility studies to see what can be done in the future. Northern's students are in demand when they graduate, he said, enrollment has stabilized, and plans to improve are being made. He said the way to increase enrollment in the future is to tell the story of Northern and its successes.
Magyar said Triangle is working to improve telecommunications in the area. He said the cooperative is limited to what it can do in Havre, since Qwest is the main telephone provider there, but Triangle is continually improving its services in the rural area it covers, and offers long distance and Internet services in Havre. He said the company will soon offer PCS service in Havre as well, a wireless phone system which he called the future of wireless technology.
Magyar said the PCS system would allow calling in-state with no long distance charges, and without the static and transmission area problems of cellular phones. He said the cooperative is also interested in picking up basic coverage within the city.
Miller said the school system is facing difficulties because of budget reductions from enrollment declines, as most schools on the Hi-Line and throughout the state are. He said it will be difficult to continue providing the education the system provides with the decreasing budget. But, he said, he doesn't want to paint a "doom-and-gloom-picture."
"We will focus on the future; we will come up with solutions," Miller said.