SANTA AT STOCKMAN — “Look Santa, we’re twins!” Santa listens carefully as Morgan Kersey Fuson gets ready to tell him her Christmas wish list. Santa was at Stockman Bank during the Christmas Stroll on Saturday and he most definately received an earful of Christmas ‘wishes and wants’ from the children. Over the next several issues, we will publish more ‘Santa and Me’ pictures that were captured by Adam Jerome with the I-O camera.
By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Mother Nature was not kind to Conrad on Saturday.
An uninvited Alberta Clipper roared down from Canada and played havoc with the annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Stroll.
It was almost a “Tale of Two Cities.” Some planned events went well despite temperatures that rolled off the table and fell to as much as -19 degrees (below zero) while others just simply had to be cancelled.
Never getting off the ground was the dedication of the new marquee at the Orpheum Theatre, the cardboard parade, wagon rides, and the traditional opening ceremonies and lighting of the Christmas tree at the courthouse.
A recital at the library never took place, the museum closed their doors early and crowds were sparse at times for the craft vendors at the Moose Lodge and the Pondera Village Shopping Center.
On the other hand, over 100 youngsters came to Stockman Bank to visit Santa Clause and impart their Christmas wish list on him.
While that was going on inside, Sablle Erickson, the daughter of Dustin and Mary Erickson braved the “Big Freeze” and was selling hot cocoa in front of the bank. She later moved her business to Meadowlark School where she could be in the foyer while the Kids Carnival was going on. Proceeds from her entrepreneurial enterprise went to the local Cancer Foundation.
Meanwhile, the kid’s carnival was going great guns with young people getting their faces painted, shooting hoops, tossing bean bags and having a lot of in-door fun.
The art show, upstairs at Joe’s Steakhouse had a number of folks viewing some nifty works of art. The Theatre still presented their movie.
This all leads up to the Christmas Tree auction held at the former location of G&D Hardware on Main Street.
There were 14 trees and 10 wreaths that went on the block, each and everyone decorated magnificencently.
Last year’s auction brought in $3,325, but this year on a nasty night, the trees fetched $5,795! Proceeds from the auction go towards the purchase of new Christmas street decorations.
Gary and Leo’s IGA provided meat and cheese trays and a wide variety of crackers, dips, chips, cookies and candies for bidders to munch on.
Taking a little editorial license here, even though parts of the Christmas Stroll weren’t able to be pulled off and people ventured out, only to get stuck in the snow, some more than once as they moved about, overall the Stroll was a success.
A lot of preparation and planning went into the Stroll and its new look, both from the CofC and merchants to arts and crafts people to all of the folks who braved the weather to take part in it, kudos and big pats on the back to all of you.
DRIFTING ABOUT — One of the by-products of the horrid winds and snow are drifts that pile up like this on Front Street. Drifts bunched up in front of businesses and homes as well making it difficult to get from here to there on Saturday. Although the photo has no relationship to the article, it was too nice a picture to not publish, we hope you enjoy it! I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
In mid-August the 4.7 million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted to lift the ban that prohibited sexually active gays and lesbians from serving as ministers.
Under the new policy each ELCA congregation will be allowed to hire homosexuals in committed relationships as clergy.
The change passed with 68 percent of about 1,000 delegates. The change makes the 4.7 million member group one of the largest U.S. Christian denominations to take the gay-friendly stance.
With the change there has been some worry that many Lutheran congregations around the country would consider leaving the organization for a more conservative alternative.
Since the decision in August, over 80 Lutheran Churches nationwide have taken an initial vote to leave the ELCA. Of the 80, around 20 churches have voted against the intitial proposal to leave the organization, leaving 60 to take another vote in the near future.
Included in that number are the two Lutheran churches in the Conrad area, Pondera Valley Lutheran Church and the Golden West Lutheran Church.
At the Pondera Valley the vote was 94 to 18 for continuing the process. At Golden West the vote was 32-10 for the same decision.
If the congregations decide to leave the ELCA there will be a few decisions left to make. For example, if they leave they will have to align with another Lutheran Church organization or they may lose their tax-exempt status.
Two possible alternative organizations include the Lutheran Congregation in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC).
The LCMC has been around for 10 years and the AALC was formed in 1987, the same year as the ELCA.
Pastor Michael Sculley, of both churches said, “One impact of leaving the ELCA would be that the decision would take us out of our comfort zone and force us to become more self-reliant.”
He went on to say, “The decision to leave the ELCA is not about gays and lesbians. To us it is a matter of scriptural authority.”
Another impact may be regarding the Flathead Bible Camp which is part of the ELCA. Although area children would still be allowed to attend the camp, area parents may lose their say on the board of directors which is something that will have to be worked out when the time comes.
The final vote to ratify the decision for both congregations will take place on Jan. 31, 2010.
In the meantime the area Bishop will be in Conrad for a question and answer session regarding the issue on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Pondera Valley Lutheran Church in Conrad.
Editor’s Note: More information will be forthcoming after the Bishop’s Q and A session
By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
With the passage of House Bill 488 the next step in the possible Dutton/Brady transfer is about to take shape.
Last Spring HB-488 was passed to allow residents of the old Brady School District (and other similar districts) to petition their land out of the Brady/Dutton School District under the laws that were in place when they consolidated.
Since the bill’s passage, Brady residents began to circulate a petition to leave the Dutton/Brady District in favor of the Conrad School District.
In order to move to a public hearing the land owners in the old Brady School district needed a Supermajority of 60 percent of the qualified voters.
It is important to note that the petitioned land will not exactly be the old Brady district. Instead it will encompass all of the land other than a three mile radius around the Midway Colony School. This was done, because the law states that land may not be petitioned within three miles of a functioning school.
The contested land contains 282 qualified voters. The petitioners gained 66 percent of the voters to move to the next step. The 66 percent is also a little misleading as only 20 voters declined to sign the petition, the rest of the 34 percent not included were not able to be reached, because they do not live in the area anymore.
One of the petitioners’ attorneys is Daniel Jones with Jardine, Stephenson, Blewett & Weaver out of Great Falls. Jones is also the son of Rep. Llew Jones who introduced HB-488 during the 2009 legislation.
D. Jones has been working on the issue since October when his firm was approached by the Brady land owners.
As it stands now, there are 36 school age children in the contested district, 26 of which already attend school in Conrad.
Jones commented on the issue, “The Brady residents want an opportunity to be on the board and have their taxes follow the school in which their children attend.”
In a school board meeting in Conrad on Nov. 10, the board voted unanimously to accept the petitioned land.
Conrad Superintendent Lynn Utterback commented, “The Conrad school system did not initiate and by law cannot initiate the petition, but we would support the transfer if it goes through.”
He went on to add, “We all ready have a majority of the kids in the Conrad schools, so it would be nice to have the tax dollars to support them.”
Brady land owner Cynthia Johnson continues the sentiment, “We own a farm 45 miles from where our taxes go. The kids out there have always gone to school in Conrad and we would like to have a say in their education and want our taxes to go to the school that educates our children.”
One question that has been asked is if the land transferred involves the new gym in Conrad. Are the people from the petitioned district responsible for a share of the cost?
The answer in short is no. The gym levy was attached to the property that was in the district at the time when the levy was passed.
They would though be responsible for their share of other educational costs going forward.
When approached with the issue the Dutton/Brady School Board tabled the issue on Nov. 17.
The next step in the process is a public hearing on Jan. 5, 2010. The hearing will be presided over by Pondera County Superintendent Jo Stone, Teton County Superintendent Diane Inbody, and Missoula County Superintendent Rachel Vielleux with a majority decision deciding the hearing. The hearing will take place at the Pondera County Court House.
The reason for Vielleux’s involvement is because the law stipulates that when two counties are involved in transfer issues they must choose a third superintendent to be a member of the hearing panel.
While any decision will be subject to the appeals process it will be very difficult to overturn.
Editor’s Note: The I-O will have further information available after the Jan. 5 hearing.