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Plains celebrates Independence Day

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| July 10, 2024 12:00 AM

Plains celebrated the Second Continental Congress’ unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4,1776 with a full day of activities for all ages.

The nation’s birthday started early Thursday morning with a free pancake breakfast sponsored by the Plains-Paradise Rural Fire District on Airport Road in Plains. Fire trucks were moved out of the fire station, tables were setup, grills were fired up and volunteer firefighters/cooks Una Stowers, Braeen Starika and Tim Kinsinger went to work flipping pancakes that eventually served over 250 people.  

Carl Benson, driving a 1939 Ford fire truck, offered rides aboard the historic vehicle. Two young fire truck enthusiasts, 3-year-old Rafe Bache, and 4-year-old Briggs Bache, climbed aboard for the ride of a lifetime. The only thing missing was a dalmatian sitting on the seat beside Benson. Benson shuttled people between the fire station to the fly-in at the airport. 

With breakfast winding down, preparations at Fred Young Park started with live music from the Northern Lights Band based out of Missoula. Plains VFW Post 3596 once again, was offered a free community barbecue picnic at the park. 

VFW post member and state Sr. Vice Commander Heather Allen introduced this year’s readers of the Declaration of Independence. Starting off was 98-year-old World War II veteran Tom Carlton Sr. followed by Jim Gillibrand, Connie Foust, Paul Nowatka, Roy Brown, Ken Matthiesen, Don Moore, and ending with Dennis Munson.  

Plains’ VFW Post conducted three raffles this year with a $500 prize being picked Nov. 9, a one-half beef raffle, and a .22-caliber rifle. The national VFW origination is offering a national $2,500 raffle. 

As the noon hour approached, Fred Young Park was the location to honor Plains-Paradise Rural Fire District Fire Chief James Russell. He was chosen as this year’s Montana Fire Chief of the Year American Legion Montana Firefighter of the Year Award. Russell was chosen from six nominees throughout the state.

 The award was presented to Russell by American Legion Kalispell District Four Commander Bob Leman and Local Thompson Falls Post 52 Commander Steve Rogue. Plains Mayor Joel Banham thanked Russell for his dedication and professionalism as fire chief. 

As the events at Fred Young Park were winding down, activities were getting started at the Sanders County Fairgrounds. 

A mechanical bull, owned and operated by Bubl, Idaho, resident Brandin Steiner, was set up to test the skills and the flight and landing abilities of both the youth and the occasional brave adult. Plains youth 14-year-old Utah Butler tried his skills on the Bull only to experience a very graceful dismount after a few seconds.

Butler said, “I want to be a bull rider when I grow up.” 

The Plains Bible Church supplied a bounce house for the kids. Live music was from Pixelated Fauquier’s with band members Tron “Mr. Wizard,” Jake Ballangee, and Albert Gonzalis. Their genre ranged from country to gospel. Face painting was a big hit thanks to artist Bethany Volora from Superior. Mary Halling from Clearwater Properties donated American Flags and water for fairground goers. With over twenty venders on hand there was something for everyone during this year’s Fourth of July celebration.  

Making its debut at the Sanders County Fairgrounds Freedom Festival was a new internet and over-the-air radio station Clark Fork River Radio. Owned and operated by Raf Viniard, a veteran of the Air Force. Viniard voice sounds like he was born to be a radio announcer. He comes with a deep baritone southern voice.

“I started Montana Woods and Water," he said. "I have done a little bit of TV back when the Outdoor channel and all that stuff was real poplar. I dabbled in making outdoor television shows. I got involved in the construction here with the Huckleberry Contracting Company that I have. It took over my life.” 

He continued, “With the state of our world and I’m watching Plains change, our whole valley is changing. The world is changing. I felt like we needed something to bring us together and that is what Clark Fork Radio is about. We need that back in America,” Viniard said. “I wanted something to give everybody a voice. It is a community radio. It’s owned and operated here in Plains, Montana.”

 Plans to expand the over-the-air coverage areas outside of the Plains Valley are in the works.  

His program will be from the 60s, 70s and 90s with classic rock, country and a little disco. His livewire program in the mornings between 9 a.m. and noon will be a community-based program that will include local events, farm and ranch reports, hunting and fishing reports. 

“It will be a program to bring the community up to speed on what’s going on or discuss things that are important to them,” Viniard commented. 

The Fourth of July celebrations ended with fireworks at the Sanders County Fairgrounds.

    Cooks Una Stowers, Braeen Starika and Tim Kinsinger at the Plains-Paradise Rural Fire District pancake breakfast. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    Berrio family children from left, 2-year-0ld James, 4-year-old Emilia and 6-year-old Sophia wait for their turn with Trout Creek Clown Skeeter. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    American Legion Post 52 Commander Steve Roque awards Plains-Paradise Rural Fire District Fire Chief James Russell the Fire Chief of the Year Award. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    Owner of the new Clark Fork River Radio Raf Viniard talks during a live broadcast from the Fourth of July Freedom Festival in Plains. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    The American Flag fly over the VFW's free barbecue at Fred Young Park in Plains. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    14-year-old Plains resident Utah Butler ends his time on the mechanical bull. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    6-year-old Alberton resident Lindy Anderson gets her face painted by artist Bethany Volora. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    98-year-old World War II veteran Tom Carlton Sr. reads the Delaration of Independence during the Plains Freedom Festival on July 4. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)