Heron Bridge official opening celebrated
The newly built Heron Bridge has finally opened with locals excited for the new chapter in their community. The opening saw attendance from not only plenty of locals, but also Sanders County Commissioners Carol Brooker, Tony Cox and Glen Magera, and representatives of Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines’ office.
After a short presentation, the crowd moved down to a newly erected sign designed by locals Geri Lee and Debbie Lyman. Being that the project cost $16.1 million to complete, a safer bridge for all travelers was a tick in the box for local government.
Plains Lions Club builds benches
Plains Lions Club member Marvin Tanner loaded eight hours of love into building some benches for moms and dads to enjoy while at the kids pool in Plains.
Monday morning, July 9, Tanner — along with fellow Lions President Duane Highcrane — presented the benches to the Lions kids’ wading pool.
The lumber was donated by Thompson Falls TRL, accompanied by some monetary donations from Sanders County locals Doug Bratz and Alvin Amundson to bring the idea and creations to life.
Double fatality on Montana 28
In the early hours of Saturday morning, July 7 at approximately 12:45 a.m. emergency services were called to a single-vehicle wreck at mile marker 9.6 along Montana 28.
It is suspected that the female driver was exceeding the nighttime speed limit of 65 mph as she began to come into the turn after mile marker 10.
Both the unidentified female and male occupants were 35 years old, and neither was wearing a seatbelt.
It is suspected that the driver — due to speed — lost control of her vehicle, veered to the left into a rock wall, crossing the double yellow lines before coming to rest on the right-hand side of the road in a smaller rock face.
The male passenger was ejected from the vehicle while the female driver was thought to have moved around the inside of the vehicle due to the nature and force of the crash.
Fire and EMTs along with MHP attended the scene; both occupants were pronounced deceased at the wreck site.
Rollover near Trout Creek
Sunday, July 9 saw another major single-vehicle wreck, this time at approximately mile marker 30 near Trout Creek.
A married couple in their early 60s from Missoula was traveling along the road when their small pick-up veered off the road into a side ditch.
It is suspected that when the male driver attempted to pull the truck back onto the roadway and overcorrected, which resulted in the vehicle rolling.
The female passenger was ejected from the vehicle, suffering severe head and body injuries. She was life-flighted to Missoula, with life-threatening injuries.
Celebrating 4th of July
Independence Day 2018 was a county-wide party as locals converged on a number of events to celebrate the birthday of this great nation.
The west side of the county held celebrations in Noxon, which saw a great parade and some fun games for kids while everyone was able to get out and enjoy the great weather.
Paradise Center unveiled in open house
Every small community is rich in history, and the town of Paradise is certainly no exception.
A new chapter in the Paradise history book was written last Thursday through Saturday, July 19-21 with the fifth annual Artists in Paradise event in what was the gymnasium of the old Paradise Elementary School and now called the auditorium. The event featured about 11 of Sanders County’s talented artists, and artwork provided by students from the Summer Arts Camp.
To cap the three-day celebration, the Paradise Elementary School Preservation Committee hosted the opening of the Paradise Center during an open house Saturday, with excellent support from the Sanders County Arts Council.
Huckleberry Festival logo finalized
Each year, Trout Creek’s annual Huckleberry Festival goes on the hunt for a new logo; one created by a Sanders County local that encompasses the spirit of the festival.
This year, the winning logo was created by Kelley Torquemada. She is originally from Missoula, where her parents worked for the U.S. Forest Service; she later moved to California before returning to the northwest parts of Montana.
All historical festival artwork can be viewed at huckleberryfestival.com.
Chicken Jamboree in Thompson Falls
Thompson Falls played host to the annual Chicken Jamboree under a warm summer’s day last Saturday.
This year marked its 28th celebration of the picnic cookout for residents and all who wished to attend.
PHS’s Paulsen second in VFW contest
Earlier this year, Plains High School student and artist Malachi Paulsen entered the local Patriotic Art Contest sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary.
Paulsen won the local post contest, and his pencil drawing art was sent to the state competition — where it once again impressed judges.
Now Paulsen has become the first Sanders County resident to compete in the annual art competition at the national level, and he earned a second-place finish and $5,000.
Cool Summer Nights in Trout Creek
The 2018 Cool Summer Nights Car Show at the Lakeside Motel and Resort in Trout Creek last weekend pulled out all the stops for this year’s event.
Jake Rostker, owner of the local resort, said this year’s turnout was the largest for the number of vehicles since its inception.
This year saw 54 entries for the local car show and it wasn’t just the classics that turned up, but also some newer modeled cars were on show.
Sheep Gap Fire Project approved
Last week, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte applauded the Forest Service on the signing of the Sheep Gap Fire Salvage Project in Sanders County.
“Last year’s fires harmed communities and devastated forest landscapes in places like Sanders County,” Daines said. “This critical project will restore areas on the Lolo National Forest impacted by last year’s Sheep Gap Fire while supporting good-paying Montana timber jobs.”
Under the approved Emergency Situation Determination, the Lolo National Forest is able to expedite timber sales for the Sheep Gap project during the fall of 2018.
Garden Creek Fire triples in size
The Garden Creek Fire burning on tribal land near Hot Springs took a drastic turn Tuesday night, growing from 500 acres to nearly 1,800 acres, making it the largest fire in the state so far this season.
Fueled by high western winds and temperatures lingering around 80 through Tuesday night, the rapid spread prompted the evacuation of one outlying home. Protective efforts include fire retardant drops and burnout operations to help keep the fire from reaching the structure, according to public information officer C.T. Camel.
Huckleberry Festival in Trout Creek a hit
The 39th Annual Huckleberry Festival in Trout Creek last weekend was a hit for locals and tourists as the tiny Sanders County town once again celebrated.
This year’s Huckleberry Festival looked considerably larger as plenty of people lined the street for the annual parade before hitting the festival in the park.
This year’s Huckleberry Festival Grand Marshals were Pat and Lloyd Austin.
Stage II fire restrictions in Sanders County
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, enforcement of Stage II fire restrictions across west central Montana went into effect. Emergency responders at the city, county, state, tribal and federal levels have been plagued by unattended campfires this fire season.
With unseasonably high temperatures and high winds in the immediate forecast, fire managers need to limit the numbers of wildfires in the area.
Avista golf scramble raises $21,000
It was a record-breaking day at the River’s Bend Golf Course just outside Thompson Falls on Saturday, as more than $21,000 was raised during the Avista’s 10th Annual Charity Golf Scramble and Silent Auction. Golfers from 18 teams enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the cause, and savor the camaraderie that comes with a day on the links.
Benefactor of the charity tournament this year is Western Montana Mental Health Center of Sanders County.
Riverside Park restrooms vandalized
Riverside Park located at the bridge next to the fairgrounds in Plains is falling victim to vandals.
Zach Whipple-Kilmer of the Sanders County Parks Board along with Chris McGuigan, manager of the Sanders County Fairgrounds, are urging the public to look after the popular park.
“The public restrooms are taking a big hit, and it’s costing a lot of money each week to keep up with the unsanitary trashing of the inside,” Whipple-Kilmer said.
Plains Library celebrates centennial
The Plains Public Library celebrated its centennial in style last Saturday, Aug. 18 with a book sale, raffle, silent auction and kids’ games just outside the facility on West Railroad Avenue.
Everyone who attended the open house celebration received souvenirs to mark the centennial. Commemorative mugs were also available.
Sanders County Fair in full swing
The judges for the Sanders County Fair were in full swing Tuesday morning, Aug. 28 as they began to judge all entries for this year’s fair.
Though the judges said entries were down in numbers overall this year, the quality of creations that were submitted for the Arts, Crafts, Photography, Sewing and Needlecraft were outstanding.
“We really do get some great entries here at Sanders County, I only wish we had more to look at,” said one judge.
Rattlesnake Fire at 64 percent containment
The Rattlesnake Fire, located 10 miles northeast of Hot Springs, measured at 1,374 acres and was 64 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, according to The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire.
In a press release Tuesday, DOF shared that 179 personnel are assigned to the Type-3 incident.
The fire, which suspiciously began Thursday, Aug. 30, is burning in grass and timber along a steep, west-facing slope.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation.
Multitude of crashes, one fatality in county
Last week saw emergency responders extremely busy with a number of call-outs, including multiple vehicle wrecks with one fatality.
Wednesday, Sept. 5 saw two separate wrecks, one in Thompson Falls that required some persons involved to be transported to Clark Fork Valley Hospital.
The second crash was within an hour of the first and occurred along Highway 200 at milepost marker 79.6, where a motorcycle drove off the road in a single-vehicle wreck.
The male rider, who was a resident of Plains, did not survive the accident and was pronounced deceased on scene by emergency responders.
T-Falls students inducted into NHS
Twelve Thompson Falls High School students from grades 10 and 11 will be inducted into Blue Hawk Chapter of the National Honor Society during a formal ceremony on Monday, Sept. 17 at the high school.
Those students to be inducted are: Megan Baxter, Jolia Buchanan, Cody Burk, Jody Detlaff, Faith Frields, Sierra Hanks, John Hensley, Justin Morgan, Josey Neesvig, Nathan Ostwald, Gabriella Pallister, Riley Wilson and Erick Melendez.
Lions Club making ‘world of difference’
One of more than 48,000 Lions Clubs in 200-plus countries worldwide is the local Plains Lions Club. And members are striving to do their part to be part of that “world of difference” — by providing vision correction for Sanders County students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The Plains Lions Club has taken the next step toward providing the most modern vision screening by purchasing a plusoptix device earlier this month. Five club members were on hand for a training session on how to use the plusoptix last Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Plains School library.
Jehovah’s Witnesses to pay $35M to abuse survivor
The Jehovah’s Witnesses must pay $35 million to a woman who says the church’s national organization ordered Montana clergy members not to report her sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a congregation member, a jury ruled in a verdict.
A judge must review the penalty, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ national organization — Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York — plans to appeal.
The Montana case is one of dozens that have been filed nationwide over the past decade alleging Jehovah’s Witnesses mismanaged or covered up the sexual abuse of children.
The case that prompted Wednesday’s ruling involved two women, now 32 and 21, who allege a family member sexually abused them and a third family member in Thompson Falls in the 1990s and 2000s.
NRA fundraiser banquet successful
The annual National Rifle Association’s fundraiser banquet returned to Sanders County last Tuesday night with an even bigger event.
NRA State Rep. Joe Crismore said he was very excited about this year’s event, and by the number of pre-sold for tickets he expected it to be a packed house.
Fatal shooting near Dixon
A fatal shooting near Dixon last week is still under investigation.
William Conco Camel died as a result of the shooting, which occurred in Agency.
According to the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office, the Sanders County Dispatch Center received a call at 11:16 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, reporting that a person had been shot.
Upon arrival, law enforcement found Camel, who was deceased, Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel confirmed in a press release.
Three individuals have been identified as “people of interest.”
CNSC Extravaganza raises $18,000
A live band, silent auction and scrumptious meal topped off with a live auction and some raffles, this year’s Cancer Network of Sanders County (CNSC) Fall Extravaganza was a big hit.
CNSC pulled out all the stops for their annual fundraising event that took place last Thursday night at the Plains VFW Hall.
A total of $18,000 was raised on the night and proceeds will be split and given to those within the network to help with medical bills, transportation costs and what ever they need to help make their lives easier while seeking treatment.
CFVH hosts Women’s Health Fair
The Clark Fork Valley Hospital 2018 Women’s Health Fair once again returned for women from around the county to provide information to gain a full and healthy lifestyle.
This year, the fair set up in the Plains High School gym, as women from all around converged to the event that not only indulged in a gathering of empowered women’s health, but also get a chance to chat to professionals should they need some guidance on any issues regarding health or healthy living.
Traffic stop yields illegal drugs
On Friday, Oct. 26, Sanders County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Roy Scott stopped a vehicle on Highway 28 in Sanders County for a traffic violation. During the course of the stop, Scott observed indicators that the vehicle may be transporting illegal drugs. Further investigation revealed that there was methamphetamine, along with illegal marijuana in the vehicle. The driver was arrested and is being held in the Sanders County Detention Facility.
Goodwin benefit raises $20,000
Sanders County folk, and many others from outside the area, turned out in droves for a Spaghetti Benefit Dinner last Saturday evening, Oct. 27 at the Plains VFW.
The event was a fundraiser to support the needs of Cole Goodwin, a 25-year-old Plains resident who was seriously injured in a car crash Sept. 28 on River Road West. He is currently confined to a wheelchair.
Lacy assumes position as T-Falls mayor
It’s a very familiar face in the position as new mayor of Thompson Falls.
Jerry Lacy, who retired in September as T-Falls Public Works Director after serving for 27 years, replaces Sheets as mayor and he was sworn in during a special council meeting Monday, Nov. 5. Lacy was to preside over his first meeting, held this Monday.
Sheets, who began serving as T-Falls mayor in January 2016, submitted his resignation at the Oct. 8 council meeting.
Lacy plans to serve as mayor until the term ends in December 2019. An election in November next year will be held for the mayor’s position.
Hot Springs Artists Society raises funds
The Hot Springs Artists Society (HSAC) annual Silent Art Auction, featuring wine, cheese and chocolate tasting, was held last Saturday evening, Nov. 10 at Symes Hot Springs.
The evening featured a raffle with more than 20 items given away during periodic drawings — including artwork, gift certificates and a basket of “goodies.”
Hot Springs Artists Society member and event organizer Leslie Smith that about $2,500 was raised in the silent auction during the artists society event.
Eearning totals for the cheese and wine tasting had not yet been determined.
Net proceeds from the event go into the HSAC general fund.
Hot Springs Lions Club hosts fundraiser
Lions Club International chapters around the world have a great reputation for serving communities in need, and the Hot Springs Lions Club got excellent support during their OGNIB fundraiser Sunday, Nov. 19 at Hot Springs School. The multi-purpose room was filled to capacity as game players vied to take home items that filled the stage.
New Town Pump in Plains to open
Construction is wrapping up on the new Plains Town Pump and Lucky Lil’s Casino.
The newly completed store — open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — will offer more than 10,000 square feet of retail space, including a larger deli service area, wine department and a greater product offering.Featuring Conoco fuel, the new facility will have 14 fueling stations and three high-flow diesel stations.
Tree of Hearts program
Fruit grows on trees, in season, all around the world. But the tree that is now in season in Sanders County is the Tree of Hearts.
The Sanders County Sheriff’s Office is again sponsoring the popular and giving program. According to coordinator Theresa Milner, office administrator at the sheriff’s office, trees went out to 14 locations last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Posters are at locations in six Sanders County towns.
‘Christmas in the Old West’ celebration
It was a day and evening of celebrating the holiday season last Saturday, Dec. 1 with Thompson Falls Christmas On Main Street was in the spotlight. This year’s theme was “Christmas in the Old West.”
Dozens of volunteers made it a weekend to remember, highlighted by a record number of 42 entries in Saturday night’s lighted parade. Grand marshall honors were shared by Robin Hagedone, Kathy Conlin, Linda Rocheleau, Rita Lundgren and Penny Torgrimson. The Beautification Days Committee was the sponsor, and Joanne Burk was the parade organizer.
Thompson Falls High School was the site of the 40th annual Thompson Falls Christmas Bazaar, the largest each year in Sanders County, according to organizer Janie McFadden.
Pies erects first ‘Wild Horses of Plains’ statue
It’s an ongoing, five-step process for Kenton Pies, whose Wild Horses of Plains project has cleared the first hurdle.
Over several years, Pies planned to do a sculpture of the “Wild Horses of Plains.” While compiling a list of 42-plus interested locals who thought this sculpture would be a very good addition to the Plains landscape, he got the approval of the mayor, City Council and Montana Rail Link. The railroad owns the property upon which the horses will reside.
Over a period of eight months and 300 hours Kenton built a prototype of a life-size horse out of steel — covered with expanded sheet metal to start the herd. The group of wild horses will be installed in the greenway across from the old Plains Elementary School, now the MTWest Dentist business. The first pinto was erected Friday, Dec. 7.
Trout Creek man facing five felonies
A Trout Creek man remains in the Sanders County Jail on $100,000 bond while facing several felony charges in relation to a recent incident where he is accused of arson and firing a gun at a Trout Creek motel.
According to court documents, West Bowen Flockerzi was recently charged with attempted arson, assault with a weapon, two counts of criminal endangerment, and assault on a peace officer.?If found guilty on all counts, Flockerzi faces a maximum of 62 years in the Montana State Prison.
Hot Springs’ Byrns casket bearer during Bush’s interment
Anthony Byrns is only 22 years old and already has one of those memories that will last a lifetime.
The 2015 graduate of Hot Springs High School and U.S. Navy seaman served as one of the eight casket bearers during the interment of the 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush in College Station, Texas, at his presidential library grounds last Thursday, Dec. 6. Bush served as president from 1981-89.
Byrns and the other ceremonial honor guards were dispatched from the Anacosta Joint Base. They carried the casket from a presidential hearse that arrived at the library across the bridge on the Texas A&M campus to the private Bush burial ground. They were also involved in the flag-folding ceremony presented to Bush’s son, former President George Bush, the nation’s 43rd president.
Toys for Tots serves 175 kids in county
U.S. Marine Corps League, Detachment 1041 out of Polson, has completed its 2018 Toys for Tots drive in Sanders County.
County coordinator Mauri Morin and his wife Barbara — and other volunteers — were on hand last Saturday, Dec. 15 at Gospel Mountain Assembly of God Church in Thompson Falls to accommodate the pickup of toys by Toys for Tots applicants.
Barbara said Toys for Tots served about 175 youngsters in Sanders County this year — with an age range from toddler to 18 years old.
While Mauri is the coordinator, Barbara is the application record keeper and heads up the toy distribution. She said Mauri would retire as coordinator at the completion of the 2018 Toys for Tots program.