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Director's Report September 2005

  • September started off with a letter received from PPL Montana stating that they no longer wished to remain liable for their remaining pledge to the Legacy Campaign. They sited problems with signs in the Great Falls area as the reason for their “re-decision.” After sitting with this letter for a few days I wrote a rebuttal letter on September 7th stating the successes of the grant programs (which were numerous), and explaining that creating good signs is not a cookie-cutter process. As it stands now there will be no more PPL monies coming into the Commission for re-granting for signs; neither have they responded to my letter of September 7th.

    Also at the very beginning of September I received the final report from Peggy Bourne with the Explore! the Big Sky. She didn’t sugar coat anything as she very openly admitted their financial shortfall for hosting this National Signature Event, and offered some reasons for the lower than expected attendance. I do know that Peggy will be attending the Commission’s meeting in Big Timber on October 11th to ask for more money to help make up their financial shortfall.

    On Friday, September 2nd I spoke with Rick Reed with Montana Dakota Utilities about their remaining pledge to the Legacy Campaign ($30,000 balance owing). Rick and I talked about options for MDU to earmark some or all of this remaining balance to either Pompeys Pillar and/or the Clark on the Yellowstone National Signature Event. Rick will visit with both groups and then promised to let us know his decision. At least MDU is willing to honor their original pledge, and not cancel that pledge as PPL has chosen to do!

    Also on Friday, September 2nd I spoke with Joe Mahon with the Federal Reserve about a newsletter article he was writing on the Bicentennial. I talked about Montana’s successes and challenges thus far, and the plans we have in Montana for 2006.

    During September I had numerous conversations with Larry Epstein (the past President of the L&C Trail Heritage Foundation, and very knowledgeable about the L&C Expedition in the upper Marias River region) regarding plans by the Blackfeet for a commemorative event in 2006 (that event is now set for July 26-28, 2006). I also talked to the Clark on the Yellowstone planners and gave them a “heads-up” that this commemorative event was scheduled immediately after their National Signature Event in the Billings/Pompeys Pillar area.

    I mentioned earlier in my “mini-tirade” about PPL that Great Falls continues to have challenges with regard to their PPL grant funding. We have been asking for a final report; an extension was finally granted now through the end of 2006. This final report will outline in some detail how their funds were invested in Tower Rock signage, signs for Ryan Dam, signing in Carter and on the Loma Hill, and signs in the Great Falls airport. All of these signs have been delayed for various, but real reasons.

    On September 6th I got a call from Mark Huber, the President of the Helena Symphony. Mark was looking for some names of key American Indians to invite to his concert that he partnering with Rob Kapilow to produce in Helena. Darrell, do you have the performance dates?? I referred him to Dyani Bingham with the Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance.

    The Corps II opened to rave reviews in Lolo, MT on Thursday, September 8th. Loren Flynn deserves many kudos for his work in getting the Park ready (the connecting bridge between the new visitor reception area and the L&C campsite was not ready until literally hours before the Corps II opening!). The entire footprint was very well designed with everything in one large area, but not so close together as to be on top of each other. Some 500 school-age students attended the festivities and were all treated to professional interpretation during their visits. Russ Copeland will give a more detailed report during the Commission’s October meeting.

    The Sula Powwow also went very well. Starting on Friday, September 9th and continuing through Saturday night, September 10th the Salish Indians put on a very memorable Powwow. The Lewis & Clark re-enactors met the Salish people in an eerily similar circumstance, now 200 years after their first meeting. An authentic peace pipe was provided and smoked by the Lewis & Clark contingency and the Salish Indians. There was much sign language to express the desire of the Expedition for horses to cross the Bitterroot Mountains. Congratulations to the Bitterroot National Forest and Mary Jane Charlo for all their planning and preparations. Job well done! I will give a more detailed report at the Commission’s October meeting. NOTE: Ian Marquand from KPAX was there and shot tons of footage and put a piece together for the Missoula TV station area. I will bring that TV spot to the October meeting. Ian told me that he is interested in finding more L&C “story leads” from elsewhere in Montana and would compile a longer piece soon. The Commission could get a copy of that longer version once it is telecast.

    From 9/12 through 9/15 I was in Missoula on personal leave and wasn’t available for phone calls, etc.

    Following my trips to Dillon, Hamilton and Lolo I was asked by Kevin Crisler for the current host locations for 2006 for Corps II. I sent that information, and then sent a follow-up note to explain that to date we have had very little communication with the Crow and Blackfeet Tribes re: Corps II details. That communication was always deemed to be the responsibility of the National Park Service. I am however continuing to monitor the progress of the Commemorative Event being planned by the Blackfeet (7/26-28, 2006) as that is outside of what the NPS will coordinate.

    On Wednesday, September 14th the USFS created a rather last minute, but very effective “hand-off” between Montana and Idaho at the Lolo Visitor Center/Rest Area. Wyman McDonald was my proxy for that event as I was unable to attend. The National Forests did a hand-off, as did the two state coordinators and the Montana National Guard. Gifts were exchanged between Keith Petersen and myself (through Wyman I gave him a commemorative medallion, and received a silver medallion in return). From all accounts I think Margaret Gorski did a great job of planning this event. Congrats!

    I was in Seattle on vacation from 9/21 through 9/26 (my previous time away from work was not a vacation!). I had a follow-up visit at the UW Medical Clinic that went very well, and I attended both the Notre Dame/UW football game, and the Seattle Seahawks/Arizona Cardinals game. Go Irish!!

    Rita has been busy the past few weeks putting together ideas for recognition awards for the many partners that have worked to host the Bicentennial in 2005 and 2006. The centerpiece for all these awards in the commemorative bronze medallions being marketed to raise funds for the Senate Art Project. Rita will give an update on this planning effort at the October meeting.

    Scott Sproull, and then Russ Copeland, called the other day to tell me that Missoula has made a final decision regarding the host site for Corps II. It will be at the Southgate Mall. This site was selected due to their level of interest demonstrated thus far, and their availability of parking and space for all the exhibits (and the access to modern conveniences such as hot food!).

    On Wednesday, September 28th I sent a “heads-up” email out to all of the 2006 host communities for Corps II to tell them about two meetings the National Park Service will host in Montana this Fall to prepare for next year. These two meetings will each be held in BLM offices, one in Missoula on October 17th and one in Billings on October 19th. I don’t know the times of the meetings as yet. Communities should plan to bring more than one person to these meetings since the NPS wants to break the group into subgroups to cover everything from site location to tent programming.

    And finally, on Thursday, September 29th I got a call from Patti Keebler who handles the Governor’s Appointments for Commissions, Boards and Committees. Patti asked how much time remains for the Commission. I told her the Commission would sunset as of the end of 2006, but that most planning decisions would be made within the coming 4-6 months. She committed to visiting with the Governor by the end of this week. NOTE: The Governor’s Office confirmed today (10/3) the reappoint-ments of Betty, Homer and Darrell Kipp.  



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