By Alan Sorensen
Ten Havre-area law enforcement officers headed out on a 10-hour, 110-mile trip to Great Falls shortly before 7 a.m. this morning to raise money for Montana Special Olympics.
The group's anticipated late arrival in the Electric City is due to its mode of locomotion running and biking.
The relay format has officers on the road every inch of the way, with rests in between legs in one of the two Winnebago motor homes accompanying them.
Just prior to heading south on West Second Avenue and turning west onto West Second Street, the team participating in the lighting of the torch. Hill County Deputy Jamie Ross held the torch while Havre Police Officer Shawn Ostberg put the match to it.
Havre's contingent is just one of several that will take up the torch during the week-long event. Teams of law enforcement officers from across the state will run relays from their areas and pass off their torches to other teams.
The Havre runners will meet up with a team from Cut Bank at about 4 or 4:30 p.m. today at the Old Milwaukee Depot. They'll run together to the nearby Elks Park and pass their torches off to a pair of Great Falls teams.
Patrolman Ostberg, who is directing Havre's team, said that one of the Great Falls teams will take a torch to the Neihart and Monarch area, while the other will carry its torch to Helena.
Teams will be running throughout the week, with the final legs entering the stadium in Billings for the kickoff of next Wednesday's Montana State Summer Special Olympics competition.
"Some of us will probably go down for that," Ostberg said.
Ostberg said the officers took pledges before setting out and that all officers in the area will accept donations and pledges throughout the next couple of weeks. People who see the officers along the route are welcome to stop and make donations. Officers also are selling the colorful 2001 Torch Run T-shirts at $10 a shirt.
This year's team consists of five Havre Police officers, four officers with the Hill County Sheriff's Office and one Burlington Northern Santa Fe police officer.
Representing the Havre Police Department are Patrolman Rory Romberg, Patrolman Gabe Matosich, Sgt. Russ Ostwalt, Sgt. Bill Wilkinson and Ostberg. Running and biking for the sheriff's office are Sheriff Tim Solomon, Undersheriff Don Brostrom, Deputy Jamie Ross and Deputy Ric Munfrada. The BNSF officer is Greg Sandsness.
The team has two support vehicles, one driven by Bernie Golie and the other by Good Sams members Don and Phyllis Rasmussen. Local merchants who donated food and beverages to help sustain the runners were Albertson's, Gary and Leo's IGA and Culligan.
Sheriff Solomon said that he challenged the Havre Police Department to top the pledges turned in by the sheriff's office. Ostberg said he had "no comments on that."