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Donated Denver trip will help the Heritage Center


The Heritage Center's rocky financial situation will get some help from Rockies tickets.

Big Sky Airlines agreed to donate a trip for two to Denver with baseball tickets included for later this month to be raffled off for a community cause.

The raffle will mean a reprieve for the historic building, which has been beset by funding shortages and serious maintenance issues, a day after the finance committee of the Havre City Council told Clack Foundation board members that the city has no money to spare to help the foundation with its $600 monthly shortfall.

The foundation runs and pays the expenses of the building, which the city bought from the U.S. Postal Service in 1996 and leased to the foundation.

Havre Mayor Bob Rice said he was contacted by Big Sky Airlines executive vice president Craig Denney this morning with the news that the airline would donate the trip. A motel room will also be donated.

Denney said the winners of the trip will fly from Havre to Denver on July 25, a Friday. They will attend a night game at Coors Field between the Colorado Rockies and the Milwaukee Brewers, and fly back to Havre on July 26.

"We think it's a good way to promote our services between Havre and Denver and help out the community, and get two lucky people to attend a Rockies game which maybe they hadn't before," Denney said this morning. He said the value of the trip was probably about $900.

Rice said he approached Denny about the possibility of the trip about two weeks ago.

At that time, Denney said, Rice did not say the trip would be for the Heritage Center, but mentioned a few community projects that could benefit from a fund-raiser.

"I'm giving the (trip) to the Heritage Center and they can have a raffle with it," Rice said. "So it's up to them how much money they make."

Rice said he had planned to use the donation for either the center or the proposed skateboard park. He said he decided this morning to give the donated trip to the Heritage Center to raffle, and that it was appropriate given the circumstances of the building.

"It's great and we'll definitely do the raffle, but no particulars have been worked out," said Debe VandenBoom, building manager at the Heritage Center. "It's limited time, but if we hustle we can do her."

VandenBoom said she had not been aware of Rice's efforts to get the trip, and that she just found out this morning. "It was quite the surprise," she said. "It will happen, it's just a matter of coordinating the raffle."

The fund-raising and special events committee of the Clack Foundation will work out the details, she said.

Gary Wilson, chair of the committee, said the raffle will be discussed at the committee's regularly scheduled meeting tonight.

Wilson said the foundation has held several raffles over the years to help the Heritage Center. "They've been fairly successful," he said.

A trip to Las Vegas was donated last summer and raffled off at the Great Northern Fair, he said. He could not remember exactly how much the raffle raised, but said it raised more than $1,000.

Denney said that after the meeting with Rice, he approached the Northern Broadcasting System, a radio programming firm in Billings, to investigate the possibility of getting Rockies tickets for a community fund-raiser. He said he found out this morning that the company could provide the tickets. The hotel arrangements are still not certain, Denney said, but that he expects confirmation by the end of this week.

Rice has said he will pay for the room if he needs to.

Denney said Big Sky Airlines has donated similar trips in the past to help communities and organizations raise money. This spring a similar trip was donated to a cystic fibrosis organization in Billings, and to Eagle Mount therapy center in Bozeman.

"They've been successful for raising money for their organizations," Denney said. He estimated that those fund-raisers had raised between 100 and 200 percent of the value of the trip, and said he expects this trip to be comparable.

In those cases, he said, the tickets were not donated.

"This is a special one," Denney said.


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