MONEY TREE — Molly Gianarelli holds up the Montana Lottery Scratch Ticket Tree for folks to view for the auction. The Lottery Tree was donated by Custom Crop Care and Bev Widhalm plunked down $275 for it. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
If ever there was a night for a building to shine, it was Saturday evening at the Pondera Shooting Sports Club (PSSC) Open House.
What began as a dream is now, arguably, the finest indoor small shooting building in the state.
It has expanded in scope and now supports 4-H shooting sports, Hunter Education, archery shooting, not to mention a wide array of meetings, a predator coyote calling seminar, league shooting, a women’s archery and trap league and shooting tournaments.
The grounds outside are now complimented by a new set of trap shooting houses, handicapped accessible lanes and voice activated pat traps.
Kurt Cunningham of Fish, Wildlife and Parks commented in part about the new site; “It’s great to see all these young people here. I go to shooting sites all over the state and the one thing I don’t see is young kids, everyone did a great job.”
The evening festivities got started with Jayne Ratzburg, her son Richard, along with Sheridan Johnson and Dania Jones singing the National Anthem.
Randy Brenteson and crew prepared a roast beef meal that had to fill up, if not one, close to 300 people.
Brenteson also noted what great support the community gave to the project. He also echoed the notion that what helped make “the building” such a success was its diverse use.
Jimmy Greer was the M/C for the big party and kept the evening moving along, while Tim VanDyke and Zane Drishinski ran the auction.
Drishinski started his stint as auctioneer selling a semi-load of gravel donated by Ray O’Brien. “It shows you what they think of me,” the county clown quipped, “I get to sell some rocks.” And he did, to Trish McKinley for $475.
Pushing a six-person Dutch oven dinner by Dr. Dick Kinyon, Drishinski commented, “It’s hard to sell food right after dinner.” Nevertheless, he got Dan Bitney to plunk down $475 for it.
Not to be out done with the zingers, Greer told Scott Johnson, who bid $125 on a teeth whitening session at Sunset Dental, “Most people have 32 teeth Scott, but you can go 32 times.”
Late into the auction when a Wing Master 12 gauge shotgun came up for bidding, Brian Garnett made a bid which prompted Greer to say, “Just right on for Linda (Brian’s wife who is a teacher at Meadowlark School), just what every teacher needs, kids aren’t what they used to be. She can be a shotgun packin’ momma.” The gun eventually went to Lyle Doty for $550.
The building has put Conrad on the map so to speak, as it is known all over the Big Sky for what dedicated volunteers have accomplished and even out of the state in shooting sports circles, it is known what was accomplished.
Proceeds from the live and a silent auction will be used to pay off an existing debt on the building. The Open House auction raised a little over $14,000.