By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Small windmills big topic at CofC
POLE UP — A wind turbine pole goes up in the backyard of Don and Wanda Bollinger at 218 S. Michigan this week. The home turbines are designed for small businesses and homes and will help reduce energy bills. The city council is using this turbine, the first to go up in Conrad, as a test case in formulating a policy and ordinance for putting up “personal” wind turbines. I-O Photo by Barb Endler
   Residential and small business windmill power was a big topic of discussion at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.
   Scott Palmer of Wind Power of Montana was on hand to talk about  small energy systems of windmills.
   Before he spoke, there were several reports given.
   Bonnie Berthelson noted that it was National Library Week and a number of activities would be going on there.
   Superintendent of Schools Lynn Utterback reported that the spring sports were well underway.
   He announced that workers were putting steel up on the roof of the new gym building, they are pouring concrete at the north end and laying in blocks in the walls and the floor of the mezzanine.
   Some construction time was lost due to rain and material loss, but it is fast being made up.
   Pondera Medical Center CEO Mark Jones reminded everyone that the 10th annual fish fry was on Friday and that the PMC Auxiliary was having a bake sale and hoped everyone would stop by the PMC for that.
   The clinic has increased hours to include Saturday. “This has been very popular and the weekend day is doing real well,” he said.
   Jones was happy to report that the PMC finished the month of February, posting a $40,000 profit for the month, “that’s a first for a long time.”
   From the city, Mayor John Shevlin informed those at the luncheon that Conrad is going to buy a fire truck from the county for $49,500 and is working on a grant of $7,400 going toward that purchase. A new truck of the same type would be about $250,000.
   Pipes at the swimming pool were modified, meeting a mandate by the government, and the city entered into an agreement with the schools on emergency services. They are also working with the county on a Community Development Block Grant. He also introduced new city judge Al Farnstrom.
   The county is looking at different avenues for $149,000 to help with the remodeling of the new Senior Citizen Center.
    Harold Olson of the EDC (Economic Development Corporation) said they have tabled the meat-processing center for now and are seeking a new project.
   They have been contacting wind-manufacturing companies to see if there is interest in putting a plant in the area.
   He also reported for the Pondera History Association, noting they are doing well with the clock restoration and that the glass facing had arrived and is being worked on by Dan Brown, Wayne Anderson, and Aaron Bliss.
   Brad Bowman of Sun River Electric was on hand to promote the “connections card,” a business discount card that has special deals both locally and nationally.
   Palmer, the windmill man, said he was, “Here to help people not hurt them and help you save money,” in talking about a small windmill designed for homes and small businesses.
   He noted that it converts wind into clean electricity one can use and is quiet, clean and operates in very low winds.
   Palmer says the” Skystream” can provide anywhere from 40 to 90 percent of a household’s total energy needs.
   A Skystream windmill is in the process, the first in Conrad, of being installed at the Don and Wanda Bollinger residence.
   There are three to four other individuals who may be putting up mini-mills after the Bollinger one is erected and working.
   Presently there are some nice federal and state tax credits available for having a unit installed.
   For example there is a federal energy tax credit of up to $2,000 and for the state, there is property tax break of up to $5,000, a credit for up to $500 for installation, a $1,000 rebate for married couples and $500 for singles.
   The city is in the process of working up a windmill ordinance and policy and sees the Bollinger residential power appliance as a test case.
   For more information on this, contact Willie Stubbs, a local sales representative at 406-576-7248 or  Palmer at 406-868-8573 or visit their Website at .