The I-O looks back at 2011

37_foxLOOKING BACK  — Here’s to bringing in the New Year with this little Red Fox which was captured on camera in the outskirts of Conrad.  Photo courtesy of Jason Berg





By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor and Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter

The year of 2011 was full of good times and some not-so-good times. The I-O presents its annual look back at some of the events and stories that had an effect on our   lives, either directly or indirectly.

JANUARY: Newly elected county officials were sworn into office by Commissioner Cynthia Johnson. They included Bill May Public Administrator, Janis Hoppes Clerk and Recorder, Sheriff Tom Kuka, Treasurer Jeanne Moon, Superintendent of Schools Jo Stone, County Attorney Mary Ann Ries, Justice of the Peace Audrey Brown and Commissioner Sandy Broesder.

The city needs to expand their present office and is looking at the alternative of moving offices to Norley Hall at Blue Sky Villa. Estimated cost would be approximately $343,000.

Betty Olson, a main stay at Olson Drug retired after 35 years on the job.

Breilla Rhean Stordahl was the New Year baby. She joined our world on Jan. 6. Her parents are Randy and Anne Stordahl of Conrad.

The county commissioners, following the swearing in of Broesder followed a pattern of rotating the board chairman.

Johnson was appointed as chairman of the commission with Joe Christiaens being the vice-chairman.

In what was to become a regular feature on the front page of the I-O, John McFarland, owner of the Conrad Building Center was the featured business in Spotlight on Business.

It was discovered by Brad Huffman that one acre of his farm property had been deeded to Conrad High School, way back in 1921.

The school board decided to complete the paper work to award the land back to Huffman. Mitch Hauer, president of the Community Cancer Foundation accepted a check for $2,500 from Gerald Miller of the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce. The proceeds came from the annual Christmas Tree Auction during the Christmas Stroll.

Pondera County dispatcher Bev Anderson has retired after 24 years of service.

FEBRUARY: The Home Café started by Harry and Lola  Arvidson over 50 years ago and run, today, by their son Scott and his wife Pam was the Spotlight on Business in February.

Cub Scouts put on an “Air Band” concert in the Orpheum Theatre/Wiegand Auditorium to raise funds for June Sasek and Gerry Walter.

The Conrad Speech and Drama team under the direction of Wayne Reynolds and Rick Moss placed fourth at the state meet.

“Little Cheers” were ready to strut their stuff during the halftime of the Conrad-Choteau basketball game. They were under the direction of the CHS cheerleading squad.

A search for a new District 10 Superintendent of Schools has been narrowed to three, Craig Barringer, Dave Selvig of Scobey and Larry Markuson of Hot Springs.

Mark Gage was named the Unsung Hero at the annual CofC awards banquet.

Jamey Byrnes, IGA manager, was named as both the Business Person of the Year and Outstanding board member.

Cowboy Luke Schlosser, wrestling at 112 pounds, became a three-time state champion at the state meet in Hamilton.

Conrad is hosting the District 10C West girls’ and boys’ basketball tournament.

Calvin Schlepp, former CHS student, was off to Africa as part of a medical rotation program. He is a fourth year med-student and the son of Rollie and Jennifer Schlepp.

Courtesy Ford was another business featured in the Spotlight on Business segment.

A water seepage in the basement of the library caused almost $1,500 in damage to their heater. The city made a request to help pay for the damage but was informed that the county did not have any extra money to help out.

The city passed a resolution for an early bond redemption for SID-68, saving taxpayers $468,398.65.

MARCH: Stockman Bank was the featured business in the I-O's Spotlight on Business.

This year, the Conrad Christian School will be using Norley Hall to host a Science Fair.

The city was named Outstanding System of the Year at a convention in Helena, gubernatorial candidates Rick Hill, Jim O’Hara and Ken Miller highlighted the annual Reagan-Lincoln Day banquet held at the Pondera Golf Club.

Dave Moritz retired after 42 years of service at K’s Auto Store.

Mayor John Shevlin caused “a stir” when he submitted a letter of resignation.

The school trustees moved to stay local and tapped Elementary School Principal Craig Barringer to be the next Superintendent of Schools.

The Pondera Title Company, doing business since 1989 was sold by owners Ramsey and Betty Offerdal to a holding company in Idaho. The named has been changed to First American Title Company.

The Karaoke for Cancer fund-raiser was moving into its third week of competition with all proceeds going to the local Community Cancer Foundation.

Centenarian plus; Pearl Kauk celebrated her 102nd birthday at the PMC-Extended Care Unit with family and friends.

The Conrad FFA Alumni hosted the 24th annual Crops and Mechanics Seminar at CHS.

Grace Brown, a sixth grader from Valier won the annual Pondera County Spelling Bee. Hailey Yeager of Conrad was in second place, Michael Bender was third, followed by Mariah Moulton and Raylynn Spotted Eagle.

Councilwoman Wendy Judisch made history when she was appointed Mayor of Conrad. She had also made history earlier, being the first woman elected to the city council. She took over for John Shevlin who had reigned.

APRIL: Businessman Ron Widhalm was appointed to fill the council seat vacated by Wendy Judisch when she was appointed mayor.

It was a super run! The Community Cancer Foundation tallied up over $16,000 from Karaoke for Cancer competition.

Jessica Klein from Great Falls was the grand prize winner in first followed by Andrea Boehmler and Cary Combs.

The DEQ is investigating contamination in the city, mostly coming from pre-existing gas stations and bulk fuel plants. They are looking mostly for Benzene that is a known carcinogen and an additive to gas to increase octane.

Country Charm, in business for 34 years, was in the Spotlight as a featured business.

Darrell Swanson of Apex Angus in Valier and Paul and Clark Jones of 4J Farms were named Conservationists of the Year.

Tara Thielman was named UMS principal for 2011-12.

Esther Turk celebrated her 100th birthday at the PMC-Extended Care Unit. She was born on April 24, 1911 in South Dakota.

Carole Jones, Brian Fladstol and Craig Broesder were candidates for a school trustee position and held a candidate forum in the new auditorium at CHS.

MAY: Barb Brownell, a third grade teacher at Meadowlark School was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year and Carol Johns was named the Outstanding Classified Employee of the year.

It is spring time in the Rockies and guess what? It was snowing during the Conrad Challenge girls’ softball tournament. The tournament was played out, a little snow never hurt anyone.

School Superintendent Lynn Utterback was honored for his years of service. He is retiring at the end of the school year.

Lions Club member Dan Wilcox presented a check for $500 to the library to purchase large print books.

Nu Body Retreat opened their doors in the old Arnot building on Main Street. It is run by Jennifer Marsicano, a licensed massage therapist and Andrea Colesworthy, a licensed esthetician.

Joe Russell, a school trustee, was tapped to be the school board chairman. Carole Jones was named as vice-chairman.

The Spotlight on Business for May featured the House of Charles beauty salon which has been on Main Street for 21 years.

In a ‘take back’ of unused prescription drugs, spearheaded locally by Brittany Greyn and Erica Grubb, 81 pounds of various drugs were turned in at Olson’s Drug.

The 71st celebration of Whoop-Days was right around the corner and Harold Olson was selected to be the Grand Marshall of the general parade.

The hospital is raising funds to repair the walkway into the Pondera Medical Center.

Justice of the Peace Audrey Brown is now able to have people pay fines via a computer.

Sam Larson, Ben Moerkerke and Sam Carroll were CHS delegates to Boys’ State at Carroll College in Helena.

Courtney Anderson, Kelli Fagan, Amanda Lee and Lexi Arellano were vying for Whoop-Up Queen honors.

JUNE: Connie Hanson and Shari Richter are opening doors for sellers and buys and have opened the doors of their new business location inside the Pondera Village Shopping Center. They were the Spotlight on Business for the month of June.

Forty-five CHS seniors received diplomas at the 101st annual commencement exercise for the high school.

Wilmot Collins, a Naval Reservist from Helena was the main speaker, honoring veterans on Memorial Day.

Creative Addictions, owned by Melody Campbell and Kit Finlayson, is a new business on Main Street.

Two days of near perfect weather helped make the 71st annual Lions Club Whoop-Up a tremendous success.

At PVS school, Clint Judisch won the Shawn Mellinger award for athletics and Andrea Russell won the sportsmanship award.

Students Sidney Anderson, Darin Mecham, Tristin VandenBos and Mariah Moulton won awards for perfect attendance for the school year.

Bonnie Poser and her business, The N’ Thing, which opened 36 years ago was the Spotlight on Business for the month.

There was a minor train accident in Valier with some grain cars tipping over and off the tracks.

Maybe it was a sign of the times, but County Treasurer Jeanne Moon announced that property tax payments are slow coming into her office.

There were 23 Model-T’s and four touring cars that rolled out of Conrad in the Montana 500 Model-T road race.

Colby Ophus placed third in the State Junior High Division rodeo finals.

Debby Perry, a Meadowlark and UMS school counselor has been named Montana School Counselor of the Year.

Conrad golfers defended their title in the annual Rider Cup 54-hole event played over two area courses. The competition is between Conrad, Shelby and Cut Bank.

CHS graduate Amber Stenson was one of 13 students awarded a MSU-Bozeman Presidential scholarship. She plans to major in accounting and minor in Ag-business at MSU.

JULY: A Shear Happiness celebrates five years of business and is featured in the Spotlight on Business. Building codes continue to stall work in finishing the new community center. The Montana Supreme Court puts an end to the disagreement that residents of Brady could switch to the Conrad school district from Dutton-Brady. Brady residents must continue to pay property taxes for the Dutton-Brady school district.

An entourage of 22 bicyclists rode through town while participating in the Texas 4000 and stayed the night. Stockman Bank is recognized as one of the most efficient bank holding companies in the nation by the American Banker publication.

The 4-County Marias Fair gets underway with many local 4-Hers in the midst. Republican governor and lieutenant governor candidates Neil Livingstone and Ryan Zinke stopped in Conrad on their campaign trail. Coaches Corner is recognized for their 40 years in business in the I-O’s Spotlight.

The annual co-ed softball tournament returns with a three-day event to benefit Christy Kulpas. A total of 10 teams participated in the annual PMC scramble and the four person team of Rylan Hanson, Mark Jones, Kyle Kavanagh and Dustin Erickson won the men’s division. The mixed team champions were Todd Truscott, Dr. Jay Taylor, Monica Taylor and Dr. John Taylor.

AUGUST: Longtime resident and business owner Daniel L. Stokes passes away from cancer at age 61. A string of child abuse shocks northcentral Montana, and peaks awareness and prevention.

The City of Conrad and the Montana Department of Transportation sign a Memorandum of Understanding that spells out the rules  and responsibility of the two government entities in their pursuit of constructing a new rest area in the new Industrial Park on the east side of I-15.

The Pondera Tavern Association presents a $1,000 check to the Conrad DUI Taskforce to go towards training and law enforcement detection and prosecution equipment for the Taskforce. Willy and Pam Marsh are in the Spotlight on Business for their local Closet Consignments store.

CHS senior Calvin Ophus takes second place at the National High School Rodeo Finals. Valier business owner, Bob Kovatch, creates a handmade bronze sculpture that is accepted to be part of a memorial at the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Long-time resident Jay Castle passes away at the age of 78 at the PMC extended care facility.

The Conrad Swimming Pool is temporarily closed due to an infestation of Saskatchewan Water Beetles. Conrad’s National Night Out is a large success with more participants and activities than ever before.

The City of Conrad begins accepting credit cards as payment for city bills. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program builds and/or renovates three houses that become available to Pondera County residents who meet the financial eligibility.

Extension Agent Dan Picard receives the Distinguished Service Award at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents 96th Annual Meeting in Overland Park, Kan. The Main Drive In is the Spotlight on Business for the month end of August.

Cope Graphics and Printing adds western apparel to their new showroom in the old Arnot’s Building. A&W and Gary and Leo’s IGA host Bike Night in the Pondera Village Shopping Center. They attracted a crowd with great music by local band Slim Cognito and delicious food from A&W.

SEPTEMBER: America will never forget the events of 9/11 after 10 years. The CHS put on a special program of remembrance for students and the local Conrad Volunteer Fire Department and law enforcement agencies.

Craig Barringer begins his new position as School District Superintendent. Sheriff Tom Kuka is recognized for his 28 years of service with the Pondera County Sheriff’s Department. Local hardware store G&D Hardware closes its doors.

Shari Gianarelli, attorney at law, graduates from Trial Lawyers College in Dubois, Wyo. Agnes Fowler is honored for maintaining her Certified Public Finance Administrator credential by the Association of Public Treasurer’s of the U.S. and Canada.

A new year of school begins for Conrad students and volleyball and football are underway. Over 35 classic cars and rods came from Great Falls and the surrounding area for The Main Drive In’s Cruize Day.

Custom Crop Care is in the Spotlight after their 35 years of family owned and operated business. Sunset Dental welcomes new dentist Veronica Montgomery who specializes in pediatric and family dental care.

Pondera County’s self employed and agricultural workers were able to receive disaster unemployment assistance due to flooding. Brady residents see a 20 percent hike in per parcel maintenance assessment for street lighting. A new weed ordinance causes displeasure to some unkempt yard owners. Work begins on the NuKeil Park.

The Conrad Veterinary Hospital is in the Spotlight on Business in recognition of over 30 years in business. Cynthia Ries, insurance agent for Stockman Insurance in Conrad, recently passed the third and final exam of the Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist certification.

Parents and teachers of Conrad Schools organize the second ever PTA in Conrad. A centennial dedication commemorated 100 years for the Conrad Masonic Lodge.

Longtime I-O Editor Buck Traxler undergoes triple bypass surgery. He begins his six-week recovery.

OCTOBER: Harvest Festival kicks the month off to a good start with Pondera County Deputy Robert Skorupa earning the honor of kissing the pig. Other events for the weekend included the chili cook off, pie making contest, a rubber duck race, a harvest dance and various concerts and performances.

The City of Conrad adopts state building codes. The Conrad Community Education Foundation hosts an Evening of Art and raises around $11,000 for education in the community. The Harlem Ambassadors came to town and took on the Chamber Challengers.

Volunteers are recognized for their work on the restoration of the town clock. UMS eighth grader Talia Stephens designed the “Save the Clock” plaque that is now mounted below the clock.

Montana Sweetgrass Etc., located just outside of Brady, attracts students all the way from Harlem to see the Made in Montana products sold all over the world. Grateful Nation Montana, a private not-for-profit organization based in Conrad, unveils a larger-than-life bronze memorial on UofM’s main campus. The memorial honors the sacrifice of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and serves as a symbol of hope and patriotism for future generations.

Homecoming sizzles with a fast food restaurant theme. Meagan Breding and Clay Winters are crowned homecoming queen and king for 2011. The Cowboys came out with a much needed victory on Homecoming against the Shelby Coyotes.

A new class trip for juniors in high school looks to compete with the traditional Close Up trip. The issue is tabled until springtime.

Building Permit fees are set to go up in November. Kenny Newmiller is recognized by the councilmen and park/recreation board members for his 31 years on the board.

The Montana Rural Education Association awards Llew Jones with the Legislative Leadership Award for his work during the 2011 legislative session.

In Line Chiropractic is honored as the Spotlight on Business for October. They have been in business since 1993. Adrian Doucette is promoted to President of North Central Montana at Stockman Bank. He oversees bank operations and more in six of Stockman Bank’s north central locations including Conrad.

The I-O staff and the Conrad community rally together to host a Halloween party fund-raiser for I-O Editor Buck Traxler.

NOVEMBER: Election Day is held by mail only for the City of Conrad and the Town of Valier and is held on Nov. 8.

The First-ever Ghost-Out spooks kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol as well as texting and driving. The Ghost-Out was mainly sponsored by the EMS team but was also sponsored by First Liberty Credit Union, Hot Stuff Pizza and the DUI Task Force.

The Conrad Post Office reverses its decision not to deliver mail door to door to Blue Sky Villa residents after one female resident falls near community mailboxes. PMC hosts its annual Ghost Run and is successful at raising $255 for the Pondera Food Pantry.

Comedian Norman Foote performs with Prairie View students for the entertainment of all. A special concert put on by Wylie Gustafson and his brother Erik “Fingers” Ray generates over $3,000 for CASA.

The Kids’ Karaoke for Cancer competition starts and brings in more money than ever before, over $10,000. The winners of the competition were Ali Wakkinen and Sheridan Johnson in the 11-17 age division. The winner in the 10 and under division was Nyssa Welker and later it was revealed that Shariden Richter was also the winner. Three IPADs were awarded to the winners.

The Lobby is called ‘the gathering place’ and is honored as a Spotlight on Business.

Gary Olson retires after 34 years with Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Alice Garman retires from Stockman Bank after 47 years. The Pondera County Health Department, County Sanitation Department and the North Central Area Agency on Aging begin moving in the newly named Pondera Center.

Sheridan Johnson, an UMS seventh grader, is awarded $400 as the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Speech Contest winner in the Junior Division. State CofC president, Webb Brown, speaks at Conrad Chamber meeting.

LaVern Keil celebrates his 100th birthday with family and friends and his wife Vivian at the PMC-Extended Care Unit.

DECEMBER: City Council moves to raise water rates. Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce raises over $10,000 at annual Christmas tree auction.

Hilton Utterback, long-time Conrad educator passes away at age 95. Enrollment in Conrad Schools discovered to be down 30 percent since 1997.

Melinda Russett begins work as the new Chamber of Commerce secretary. 3 Rivers Communications awards the PMC with a check for $2,500 to help fund the repair to the front entrance of PMC. Terry and Rachel Kinnamon are recognized in the Spotlight on Business for Cowboy Designs.

Two Times New moves to its new location on Main Street. Laura Erickson, RN, is named the PMC Employee of the Year.  Dave Totdahl bowls the second ever 300 point game at the Branding Iron Lanes. He is presented a $300 check for his achievement.

A unique carving from the 1930’s is found to be worth over $10,000 in the CHS library.

Councilmen and the mayor, Wendy Judisch, are sworn into office. New to join the city council is Wayne Anderson. Others to be sworn in were Ron Widhalm and Sandy Syvertson. The Conrad Lions Club presented a $1,000 check to Front Range CASA that was raised from cooking their famous Whoop-Up burgers.

As 2012 starts a brand new year, the staff at the I-O wishes to each and everyone a very safe, happy and prosperous New Year.  We look forward to another year of exciting news and pictures.