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Celebrating God and country


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The first of three brand-new buses is on the road in north-central Montana, transporting passengers on the North Central Montana Transit system routes. Jim Lyons, director of the transit system, said a 15-passenger Dodge Sprinter bus began running routes Monday. Two more 21-seat buses are expected to arrive in the first quarter this year, Lyons said the routes continue to be busy, illustrating the success of the free bus service that started in August. "For many people, now it is an essential service," he said. "This is what people rely on to get to and from work, to get to and from the hospital, the college. They structure their life around it." Monday through Friday, the system provides transportation to and from Havre, within the city, from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy agencies and communities in between. It also provides transportation to and from Great Falls on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It has provided transportation for special events and on weekends during the Christmas season. The transit system was started last year with a $75,000 startup grant from the Montana Department of Transportation and received $227,000 through the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which it is using to purchase the three new buses. Its creation was spearheaded by the Havre-based anti-poverty organization Opportunity Link Inc. Local governments and groups including the governments of Hill and Blaine counties, Rocky Boy's and the Fort Belknap Indian reservations, the city of Havre and About patriotism. In conjunction with the Auxiliary's efforts, the Legion runs an oratorical contest in which students talk about the Constitution. On Wednesday, Damson, her husband Jed, who is district commander of the American Legion, and some other legionnaires conducted a program on the flag for 130 students at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic School as part of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week. Students l istened as the Legion members explained how to properly fold a flag and how and why the flag is designed with 50 stars and 13 stripes. The flag is folded 13 times, Damson explained. Each of the 13 folds has a special meaning. The flag is flown at half-staff to show respect for the deceased, Jed Damson explained to the students. The governor orders flags flown at half-staff for soldiers who die in defense of the country, he said. Marlyn Damson led the assembly in a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and explained in detail the symbolism of each word. And she asked the students to fly the flag in honor of their hometown veterans. She said the programs are offered to all schools, but St. Jude's has been the most welcoming.


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