Work stalls in remodel of community center

12_amy-sunset_0453NATURE’S BEAUTY  — The vibrant hues of orange come to life in the clouds during a sunset captured recently. Photo for the I-O by Amy Salois

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

“In by Christmas, that’s our goal,” Dale Nelson of Nelson Architects in Great Falls told the county commissioners at a meeting in the last week of November, 2010.

That was in reference to the remodeling project being done at the new community/senior center on Virginia Street.

He probably should have added that it might be Christmas 2011 but even that may be a stretch.

Thursday, the commissioners met with Mark Blom of Nelson Architects and Cheryl Curry of the Pondera Regional Port Authority in regards to the “stall in progress” at the community center.

According to the commissioners, At Home Flooring needs to begin installing the flooring, however, the site has not been properly prepared. In addition there are several items of the project that need to be finished before flooring can be installed.


Cynthia Johnson, commission chairman, noted that the contractor needs to properly clean the building and subcontractors have projects to finish.


Yet another matter revolves around the adequacy of the hood in the kitchen and the difference of opinions between the state and the architects regarding fire suppression installation which has stalled work progress.

It was noted that the state has not yet returned communications which has caused the kitchen part of the project to basically stop.

Johnson also commented, “We don’t have a built-in completion date.”

In other news from the commission meeting, Mayor Wendy Judisch was on hand to present letters, one from the library board and one from the city.

The letters concerned the distribution of the regular mills levied for the Conrad and Valier libraries.

Conrad Library board member Janet Spears noted in her letter that as their budget is being finalized, “We are again faced with inadequate funding. We can appreciate the difficulty of budgeting in this poor economic climate, however, we continue to ask for equitable distribution of monies.”

She also noted that the Conrad library 2010 monies of $87,587 from Pondera County went to support 23,920 users, while Valier’s library monies of $62,487 from the county, went to support 8,104 users.

“Our issue is that the patrons of the city/county Conrad Library are not being given a fair and proportionally accurate distribution of funds.”

Mayor Judisch commented that the library budget for 2010-11 was $115,000 and after salaries and fixed costs, there is only $12,000 to provide library services to the 24,000 annual library patrons.

Judisch said the situation  is very frustrating and has caused ill will between the two libraries and while the Conrad Library does not wish to cause hardship to the Valier Library, they are simply requesting an equitable solution.

The mayor also noted that the Valier Library has a larger book and supply budget than Conrad, they also have an estimated $10,000  they can place in reserves annually.

The Conrad Library does not have the funds necessary to cover an unanticipated maintenance problem without cutting into their book budget, such as the recent furnace problem.

There was not enough to cover the entire expense and the book budget was dipped into. “That is the only place there is wiggle room in the library budget,” Judisch  noted adding, “and it is the one place that should not suffer.”

The commissioners, to a person, agree there needs to be a solution.

They had requested the two library boards mutually agree to a split, however, that has not been successful.

There was some discussion of funding the libraries solely on mills voted on by the taxpayers. But even if this proposal were to be decided on, it would not be in play for the coming fiscal year.

The commissioners took the matter under advisement.

The commission approved three abatements, one cancelling $217.40 on number 901 for failure to report placed on the parcel in error and to add $636.08 and $411.35 on two other parcels because they were not billed in 2010 as they should have been.

A task order for the Master Contract for Maternal and Child Health (MCH) for FY-2011-12 was approved. Under this grant the county will receive $7,153 for services to mothers and children. The motion passed on a 3-0 vote.

Also, an excavation agreement from Glacier Electric Coop for work on Robare Lane, installing an underground feeder line, was approved by the commissioners.

The commissioners meet every Wednesday at 10 a.m. to conduct a business meeting. The public is always welcomed and encouraged to attend these public meetings in the courthouse.