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Setback doesn't halt plans for Assinniboine


The Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association is undeterred that a project to repair the post trader's building was temporarily derailed last month.

Gary Wilson, president of the association, said it awarded Lyle Lossing of Havre a $7,285 contract to replace a roof on a cavalry guard stable building.

The association also is focusing on repairing the other end of the post trader's building, which houses Montana State University's Northern Agricultural Research Center soil laboratory.

The preservation association is using money unspent from past grants and donations to pay for the roofing job, Wilson said.

"The priority was getting all of the roofs done," he said.

The money earned from tours the association conducts at the fort is only enough to pay the premiums for the liability insurance required for the tours, he said.

Stabilizing the section of the post trader's building used by the soil lab is a priority, he said.

"It's coming down around their ears," he added.

The repairs for the post trader's building were put on hold in April when the only bid on the project came in at more than $94,000, higher than the $65,000 estimated by the architect.

After the fort preservation association and the research center told the city of Havre they couldn't come up with the required matching funds for the higher bid, about $7,500 more than originally anticipated, the project was put on hold.

Craig Erickson of Bear Paw Development Corp. said the association is now asking the architects to do another estimate, focusing on the soil lab section of the building, which used to be the fort's hotel.

The Havre City Council didn't pull the CTEP funding from the project, he said. It just rejected the bid.

"So we're just looking at a scaled-down version of the building," he said.

The original project also included the old hotel, but focused on the warehouse end of the building, Erickson said.

"If we come up with a figure we can handle, we'll accomplish putting a frame on the warehouse and stabilizing the hotel," Wilson said.

Since the building houses the research center's lab, the association will ask if Montana State University is able to help with the required local match, he added.

The association won't be looking for money from the community while the Heritage Center is having funding difficulties, he said. Keeping the Heritage Center and the Clack Museum, which is housed there, open is important to the fort preservation association, he added.

The Heritage Center's director said this week that plans are being worked on to solve the center's financial problems.

Once funding for the center and museum are stabilized and fund-raisers for some other community projects are completed, the fort preservation association may start a fund-raiser itself, Wilson said.

Lossing's work will complete a longstanding project to repair the roofs, Wilson said.

The repair of some roofs was paid for by the ag research center's insurance after a hailstorm about 10 years ago. The ag center and the preservation association both paid for the work on the fort ordnance building, with the center's insurance paying for replacing the slate and the association paying for repairing the substructure.

Lossing replaced the south side of the north cavalry guard stable building roof two years ago, and will now replace the north side.

The preservation association also is planning a major event next summer.

Fort Assinniboine will host the Old Forts Trail Rendezvous in 2004, in conjunction with the other three forts on the trail, and possibly with Fort Whoopup in Canada, which is also becoming involved in the trail.

The trail commemorates the overland freight route from Fort Benton into Canada.

Wilson said hosting the rendezvous is appropriate because of the anniversaries of Fort Assinniboine, which was built in 1879, and Montana State University-Northern, which opened in 1929.


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