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Plains receives statewide award for wastewater system

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

The Town of Plains was recognized for outstanding performance during the May City Council meeting.

Ward one Councilor Lana Dicken presented two awards to Wastewater Operator Greg Dicken. The first award came from the Montana Water Environment Association and was the 2024 Small System Award for outstanding operation, maintenance and administration of a wastewater treatment system. MWEA is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization established in 1928 to protect health and the environment and increase awareness of the impact and value of water. 

The second award went to Dicken for Wastewater Operator of the Year for 2019. Montana Rural Water Systems Inc. sponsored that award. They are an organization that provides training and technical assistance to drinking water, wastewater and tribal systems in Montana.

The meeting continued with Mayor Banham’s report that started with the amount of water pumped and sold by the town’s water system. The month of April saw a 25% loss of water, mostly from a leak near the Town Pump. 

Plains beautification day preparations activities were also discussed. The town has purchased 200 house numbers for installation by the Plains Fire Department and the Plains Paradise Rural Fire District.

Larry Neilson and Jen Fratzke from Plains Community Ambulance were in attendance with the newly purchased ambulance for council members to inspect. The ambulance is still about a month away before it can be placed into service. They are still waiting for several more pieces of equipment to arrive and for the state to complete an inspection before it can be certified for service. 

There were two items on the unfinished business agenda. The parking of motor vehicles ordinance was tabled for next month’s consideration. The mayor asked council members to continue reviewing the proposed ordinance. The second item was the review of the chapter four Billing proposed ordinance. That item was also tabled. 

Under new business, Kim McMann gave a presentation on a Statewide Tourism Enhancement SB 540 grant program. The program is funded from the lodging facility tax and is offered to municipalities within Montana to enhance tourism in their respective areas. The funds, up to two and a half million dollars, can be used for rural tourism, including infrastructure, tourism-related emergency services, marketing, and promotional activities. Council members may consider applying for the grant in 2025.

A proposal to form a committee to investigate funding, designing and building new metal horses to supplement or replace the existing horses along the greenway was made. Further discussion is planned.

The Conservation District in Sanders County presented their upcoming activities. They will be offering free pollinator seed. Designed specifically for Western Montana, they will be handing out plot sizes of 100 and 700-squar- foot amounts to grow habitat. Location and times are: Hot Springs at the Farmers Market May 11, from 1 a.m.1-3 p.m., Trout Creek at the Green Mountain Conservation District from May 21 from 10 a.m.-noon, Noxon at Pilgrim Creek Park May 21 from 2-4 p.m., Plains Fairgrounds/Riverside Parking Lot May 22 noon-2 p.m., Thompson Falls at the Limberlost Brewing Company May 22 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. For further information contact Eastern Sanders County Conservation District at 406-830-8687 or email at easternsanderscd@macdnet.org. 

    Plains Community Ambulance Service EMT Jen Fratzke on the town's new ambulance. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)
 
 
    Kim McMann talks about available tourism grants. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)