Wednesday, January 13

Neighborhood Council 7 2010 Goals

Neighborhood Council 7

Goals and Priorities for 2010

Public Safety

Downtown Police Officer

The downtown of Great Falls has been without the services of a dedicated, community-based policing officer for over a year and the result has been increased crime and an overall detriment to public safety. Neighborhood Council 7 strongly insists that this position be replaced and that the City ensure that this position is fully funded.

Community Based Policing

Neighborhood Council 7 is the most urban part of Great Falls. The challenges faced on the lower North and South sides of town are very different from most of our City’s other areas. Most of the residents of Great Falls come to the downtown at least once per day, and many residents of other neighborhoods come here to work and play. Unfortunately, as the most urban part of town, we have more crime than other neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Council 7 is convinced that community-based policing is the only way to effectively combat crime is areas like our lower North and South sides. We are very concerned that budgetary concerns have led the city to abandon community-based policing for traditional policing and we believe that the City should re-fund these efforts.

As we will discuss below, we feel that the Police Department should not be tasked with functions outside of its main mission. We feel that taking on additional responsibilities, like Animal Control, have been a detriment to the public safety budget and a distraction from the GFPD’s core mission.

Neighborhood Watch

The neighborhoods of the Lower North and South sides of Great Falls are communities. Here in the downtown, it is more likely that we know and socialize with our neighbors. We celebrate this part of life in our community.

This familiarity with our neighbors should be able to make Neighborhood Watch a vital part of our community public safety effort. Unfortunately, all of us must to a better job pulling together. Neighborhood Council 7 is committed to supporting Neighborhood Watch efforts and will do anything necessary and possible to lend its influence to the Watch.

For the past several years, our Council has met with the lower Northside Watch in an effort to spur increased attendance at Watch meetings. If this initiative is a benefit to the Watch, it should be continued. However, our Council needs to do a better job coordinating with Watch representatives prior to meetings.


9th Street

9th Street has become a North-South throughway that unfortunately bisects an existing neighborhood. Children must cross that street each day to attend school at Longfellow and Whittier Elementary Schools. Pedestrian residents cross it each day to do their daily grocery shopping.

It is a priority for Neighborhood Council 7 that traffic on 9th Street be better controlled and slowed down. In the past few years, we have initiated conversations on this issue that have resulted in the pedestrian median at 4th Avenue North and the turning lane at 6th Avenue South. We continue to supports any efforts to control traffic on 9th Street.

School Zones

Traffic around the school zones at Whittier and Longfellow Elementary Schools remains a significant concern for Neighborhood Council 7. We believe that the recent enactment of Senator Tropila’s SB 88 by the Governor and Montana Legislature give the City of Great Falls additional resources to control traffic around these schools.

The School Zone at Whittier Elementary should be extended for a full city block around the school. We understand and applaud that this extension will mean that 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues North will be part of a school zone.

We are also very concerned that uncontrolled traffic around the Longfellow School Zone may have contributed to the injury of a 5 year old Longfellow student as he was walking home from school (11/17/2009). We can and must do better to ensure the safety of our students.

We call upon the Great Falls Police Department to permanently increase their patrols and traffic enforcement efforts around Whittier and Longfellow Elementary Schools, especially around the times that school starts and ends for the day.

Park Drive

We are astounded that anyone thinks it reasonable for a 30 mph speedway to be located alongside the playgrounds of Gibson Park. Neighborhood Council 7 is committed to cutting through any necessary layers of bureaucracy to see this speed limit reduced.

We also suggest that most pedestrians and cyclists entering the park do so at the park entrance at 4th Avenue North. It is worth noting that 4th Avenue North is a recognized bicycle route, which connects to the River’s Edge Trail through the Gibson Park entrance. The crosswalk on Park Drive should be moved to this location with whatever traffic controls are necessary to ensure the safety of pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Gibson Park Lighting

We are very excited that the Great Falls City Commission has voted to fund the initiative to light Gibson Park through a CTEP grant. As one of our premier initiatives over the last several years, we will continue to be part of the process to ensure that Gibson Park is lit and becomes a safer and more attractive resource for the City’s residents.

Parks and Recreation

Gibson Park

Walking Path

The status of the walking/jogging path around Gibson Park is abysmal. This path presently constitutes a tripping hazard that is dangerous to users and leaves the City open to lawsuits. The Path should be re-accomplished in such a way to minimize future disruptions from growing roots. City needs to maintain its resources. We understand that the City is applying for a grant for funds to repair the path. Neighborhood Council 7 stands ready to support this effort in any way necessary. At a minimum, we are very willing to write letters of support and to solicit letters of support from our neighbors.

Park and Ponder Restaurant

We believe that it is a significant detriment to the City that the City’s rental restaurant in Gibson Park has been empty for over a year. We believe that the City should redouble its efforts and actively try to find anew tenant. The City should write a clear and comprehensive lease with this new Tenant to ensure that the obligations of both parties to the agreement are clearly delineated.

Sprinkler System

It is our perception that this system has significant problems. The water that pools behind the bandshell each June almost becomes an additional City pool. In addition, it is our perception that much of the grass in the park become dry and dead by mid-August each year. The City needs to maintain its resources and fix these problems.


Lap Swimming

Neighborhood Council 7 is thrilled to see such extensive use of all the City’s aquatic resources by residents throughout town. We support swimming as a lifelong activity that improves health. We believe that daily lap swimming periods should be set aside at all city pools.


Physical Plant

The current Maroney Natatorium is now over forty years old. Many parts of the Natatorium’s physical plant are in poor condition due to age and deferred maintenance. The pool’s boiler is in poor condition and needs to be replaced, the decking is cracking and the bathroom plumbing can best be described as quirky.

The City needs to maintain its resources. In addition, creative ideas must be considered to maintain indoor swimming resource for residents while minimizing expenses. One option that deserves further study could be to eventually abandon/demolish the existing Natatorium and enclose the Mitchell Pool. The decking and boiler in the Mitchell Pool have been replaced in the last two years. We believe that implementation of this idea could reduce overall assets and expenses while leaving year-round swimming resources at almost the same level. While we do not yet endorse such an idea, we believe it is deserving of additional study.

Annual Maintenance Closure

For many years, it has been the City’s practice to close the Natatorium each December for maintenance. We submit that this closure; which annually falls during the School’s Winter Break; leaves lower-income City residents with virtually no recreation options at a time when they would be very welcome.

We submit that it would be a far better use of the City’s resources to annually close the Natatorium for repairs in July or August, when the outdoor neighborhood pools are available.

MItchell Pool status as Neighborhood Pool

The Mitchell Pool is a neighborhood pool. The children of the lower North and South side have historically used this neighborhood pool. The City’s decision to place the Flow Ride attraction next to the Mitchell Pool shouldn’t penalize lower-income residents from using this resource. Pricing decisions for the Mitchell should reflect this consideration. However, there is no reason that the Mitchell’s pricing should be required to be identical to the other neighborhood pools.

Electric City Water Park Pricing and Policies

The Electric City Water Park is an incredible city resource. We believe that this facility is generally well run, enjoyed by our residents and has become a a draw for badly needed tourist dollars.

However, we believe that this facility can be enhanced by some policy and pricing changes. In particular, we are very interested in the success that the City of Missoula is seeing with policies for their new outdoor water park. We believe that Great Falls should follow Missoula’s example here and enact several of those policies. These include:

One all-inclusive entrance fee for all attractions

The current wristband system for the three attractions at the Park creates a policing nightmare for Park staff that just fosters resentment on the part of users. This system should be abandoned in favor of one all-inclusive price for access to the entire facility. Missoula charges residents a $5 fee for one time access. This fee, which is higher than the current base fee for Mitchell Pool, is reasonable and the incorporation of such a rate structure may increase both use by residents and total revenue received.

Sale of season passes

Many residents, especially children, use the water park almost daily. The city should sell season passes for these residents. We understand that the City has had a negative experience with season passes at its golf courses. However, as use of a swimming pool does not depend on a pre-determined tee times, we suggest that any comparison between golf and swimming here is sophistry.

Resident v. non-resident pricing

The citizens of Great Falls paid for our facilities. There is no reason for the City to extend its subsidy for its aquatic resources to our tourists. The city should follow the example of municipal water parks throughout the United States, including the City of Missoula, and have resident pricing at subsidy and non-resident pricing at a reasonable, higher level.

Reform of concession stand to include healthier food and more options

Obesity is becoming a nationwide scourge. Childhood diabetes is becoming less of a tragedy than it is an expectation. At our water park, we do not allow outside food and only sell greasy, fat-laden and sweet concessions. As long as we do not allow outside food in the concession stand, a wide variety of menu options should be explored. As an idea, it may be valuable to discuss the water park concession menu with the nutritionist at the Great Falls School District.

Marketing of Park to local hotel guests

We believe that we are missing out on potential municipal revenue by inadequate marketing of the Great Falls Water Park to hotel guests. The City of Great Falls could try to maximize water park revenue by allowing local hotels to sell water park passes and/or include them in a guest’s hotel bill.

Use of Free Internet Marketing Tools

Our Electric City Water Park is a great draw for tourism and tourist dollars. We believe that the City could increase revenue at the Park by creating free Facebook Pages and marketing the park through regular Twitter posts.

Dog Park

Neighborhood Council 7 is thrilled with the success of the new Dog Park, and will do anything it can to support the efforts of animal lovers throughout Great Falls to continue to make the Dog Park a great place for our canine companions.

Economic Development

Support for Overall Economic Development Efforts

Many of the challenges facing the residents of the Lower North and South sides can be traced to insufficient employment opportunities. We support the efforts of the Great Falls Development Authority and other agencies to bring additional primary sector employment to our area and our City. We stand ready to support these efforts in any way required or necessary.

Parking Fees

We can not revitalize the retail sector of our downtown as long as the general public believes that it is inconvenient to shop on Central Avenue. We should remove all possible obstacles from those that may wish to spend their retail dollars downtown.

We believe that our downtown parking meters keep retail dollars away from downtown shops. We believe that these fees should be reduced or eliminated. In order to keep downtown employees from using shopper’s parking places, the fines for leaving a vehicle in place for several hours should be substantially increased.

Other Issues

Overnight Train Noise

Over the past several months, we have received increasing numbers of complaints about the train whistles blaring through town in the middle of the night. Safety on the tracks is and should remain our primary concern.

However, we are encouraged that other Montana cities, Billings in particular, has managed to maintain public safety and still turn their downtown into a “no-whistle” zone for train traffic. Neighborhood Council 7 is committed to beginning the process to see if changes can be made to our crossings and other areas so that a similar designation can be made here in Great Falls. These changes may include the erection of a fence along the train tracks next to Gibson Park. This may become an area where our council will have to work on fundraising.

Animal Control

As discussed above, we believe that part of the funding shortfall for the Police Department can be traced to the ongoing expenses and efforts that the department must make to run the City’s animal control efforts. We believe that this experiment has gone on long enough, and that the City should immediately issue a RFP for operation of animal control and award a contract to the best value offeror in order to divest the Police Department of this responsibility.

Whittier Staff Parking

Whittier Elementary has a staffing that fluctuates between 35 and 50 employees, depending on the time of day. It has only been able to secure 15 parking places for staff. Several of these spaces are located across a dark alley at the Heisey Memorial. We thank the Montana Diocese for making those spots available.

The staff at Whittier are predominantly young women, many of whom are justifiably concerned about walking through downtown alleys in the dark. We think that the City should make parking spaces at the Great Falls Recreation Center available to the Great Falls School District for the use of Whittier staff. We believe that GFPS should pay a reasonable fee to the city for the dedicated use of those spaces during school hours.

City Ordinance Enforcement Policies

We suggest that we have a fundamental problem in Great Falls with how we go about enforcing ordinances. Virtually all ordinance enforcement in Great Falls is complaint-driven.

The problem with this is that the City does not currently have the resources to enforce an ordinance without first receiving a complaint. This leads the situation where the exact same activity will either result in an ordinance violation letter or not, depending on whether a neighbor decides to complain about the activity. This effectively becomes selective enforcement and is unfair.

We should not have ordinances that are not universally enforced. We suggest that the City needs to reform its ordinance enactment and enforcement process to ensure that all of our residents are subject to the same rules.

In addition, some very valuable ordinances (such as snow removal) have effectively been repealed without a vote of the commission as a result an executive decisions not to enforce them. City staff should not have the option of enforcing some ordinances and ignoring others.

Monday, June 23


It is now official; the rumors you have been hearing are true.  The downtown grocery store, formerly Albertson's, has been purchased by the owner of the Cut Bank IGA.

The new downtown Great Falls IGA should be open by August 20.

Thursday, April 24

Is the 80-20 Policy part of the problem here?

It is my perception that criminal activity is rapidly spiking in urban areas throughout Montana. So, I find myself asking why?

It isn't just Great Falls, although we have a healthy share of the problem.

I submit to you that it is now the policy of the State Department of Corrections that only 20% of the individuals "in" the Department to be incarcerated. Too many criminals are being wholesale released from prison so that the DoC can meet this threshold.

If this is going to be our Governor's policy, he needs to provide our communities with extra funds for more parole and police officers.

Crime and Violence

No, this blog is not off hiatus. I have made the mistake of taking on too many obligations lately, and I just do not have time to blog. However, I would like to solicit opinions on how we all should begin to deal with vexing problems that continue to crate problems throughout the lower North side.

Just to give proper attribution, this post is based on a comment I made on GF Girl's blog here.

As you might have read in the paper today, Neighborhood Council 7 facilitated a town hall meeting for the residents of the 500 block of 5th Avenue North yesterday. The violence and drug activity there are unacceptable and we need to take steps to address those problems.

Neighbors on that block raised a lot of concerns at the meeting. Both 515 and 521 5th Avenue North are single family homes that have been converted into multi-family rental properties.

Both properties are in significant disrepair, and tenants often live in the properties for only weeks or months at a time. Residents of properties like these are responsible for much of the crime in the lower North and South sides of Great Falls.

As you can imagine, these properties are rented by those that are extremely low-income. What can only be regarded as a ramshackle slum is often their last resort before homelessness.

Anecdotally, the neighbors of those houses continue to observe activity consistent with the dealing of drugs. One neighbor said that she often observed dozens of cars stopping by 515 5th Avenue North in a period of one or two hours.

Most of the people at the meeting placed the blame on non-responsive landlords who "will rent to anyone" and "do not care what kind of illegal activity they do there."

Discussion turned to rental property standards and landlord licensing.

We have a problem on the lower North and South sides of Great Falls. By God, does it take finding a dead body in the street to wake us up?

We will clean up our downtown. I welcome your thoughts and ideas for the best way to do so.

Thursday, January 17

Indefinite Hiatus

As may be obvious to some, this site is on indefinite hiatus.  There is a lot going on in Great Falls that deserves attention and analysis, but unfortunately, I find that I do not now have time to devote to my blogging hobby.

Sites like Electric City Weblog, Firefly, Greaterfalls and Cataract City are doing a great job and I salute these writers.  I hope to be back soon.  

Friday, December 7

Neighborhood Council 7 December Agenda

Monday, December 10, 2007
Longfellow School Library, West Entrance
6:30 p.m.

Please note: This agenda format allows citizens to speak on each issue prior to Council discussion. We encourage your participation. In the interest that all parties can be heard, please limit your comments.

  • Appointment of Secretary for December meeting
  • Approval of November minutes
  • Installation of Ole Johnson as interim councilor
  • 9th Street Left Turn Safety Issues
    • -->Deb Little and Principal Cal Gilbert
    • -->Jim Rearden
  • Problem Properties
    • -->512/516 6th Street North -> neighbors’ report of unauthorized tenancy
    • -->916 3rd Ave North -> court action in November
    • -->1021 5th Avenue North -> complaint by neighbor of trash in yard
    • -->116/112 12th Street North -> complaint between neighbors
  • Downtown Street Conversion -> Letter from Jeanne Wilson
  • Resurgence of Graffiti at Skate Park
  • Status of City Water Main replacement on Lower North Side
  • Other Old Business
  • Zoning at Quality Exhaust Building, 812 15th Street North -> Kevin Willems
  • Absentee Landlord Regulation--discussion
  • Confirmation of time and date of next meeting
  • Swearing In and Neighborhood Council Orientation--Patty
  • Neighborhood Concerns
Weed and Seed
Downtown Task Force
Police Advisory Board


Friday, November 9

Agenda for Neighborhood Council 7 meeting on 11/12/2007 at Heisey Memorial

Monday, November 12, 2007
Heisey Center, 313 7th Street North
6:30 p.m.

Please note: This agenda format allows citizens to speak on each issue prior to Council discussion.  We encourage your participation.  In the interest that all parties can be heard, please limit your comments.


Approval of October minutes
Pedestrian safety assemblies at Whittier and Longfellow Schools
Problem properties
512 & 516 6th Street North
916 3rd Avenue North
Others ?
Northside bicycle thefts
Replacement of Councilman Gaskell

Animal Foundation update—Melanie Lattin
Code violations on her block—Gudrun Linden
December meeting location
Carlie Boland—Montana House of Representatives
Neighborhood Concerns

Police Advisory Board—Donna Sadler
Weed & Seed—Jayci Braaten
Downtown Task Force—Erin Tropila
Council of Councils—Aaron Weissman

Next meeting December 10, 2007  

Wednesday, November 7

Thank you for your vote!

I was pleased to finally learn this afternoon that I had been re-elected to Neighborhood Council 7.  Thank you for your vote and support.

Great Falls First has Election Results; Congratulations Mayor Stebbins

These results come from Tim Austin's site.  100% of precincts reporting; it looks like most of the absentee votes broke to Susan Kahn.  Congratulations to Dona Stebbins, Mary Jolley and Bill Bronson.

Tim also bemoans the lack of any published Neighborhood Council results.  Why the dearth of news?


Great Falls, Montana - Election Results

Great Falls Tribune - Montana Election Results - VIDEO
KRTV - Great Falls, Montana - Montana Election Results
Beartooth NBC - Election Results - Montana Election Results
Fox News - Election Results
ABC News - Election Results


Includes votes cast at the ExpoPark: 10,344
About 100% of total votes counted.
Updated: 5:00 a.m. - November 7th, 2007

Dona Stebbins: 4,100 - with 40.7% of the votes
Ed McKnight: 3,824 - with 38.0% of the votes 
Susan Kahn: 1,404   - with 14.0% of the votes
Larry Steele: 704 - with 7.0% of the votes

Bill Bronson- 4,150 - with 21.3% of the votes
Mary Jolley- 5,148 - with 26.5% of the votes
Diane Jovick-Kuntz- 3,582 - with 18.4% of the votes  
Stuart Lewin- 3,445 - with 17.7% of the votes 
Elna Hensley- 2,069 - with 10.8% of the votes 

We are unable to find any information from any news source.
Hard to believe that elected council members cannot
find out who won in their Neighborhood council districts.
How do we change this???

Thank you for Voting - Great Falls

Why Not Publish Neighborhood Council Election Results?

My paper just arrived at my door.  I eagerly looked inside for the results on the Neighborhood Council races (there are six people running for the five spots on council 7).

For all the talk about Neighborhood Councils being a bright spot in our community, don't you think that they should rate some mention in our paper?  At least some results, buried and a font size of only four points?

I mean, c'mon ...

Initial Election Observations

As of the insanely early writing of this post (yes, I am an election junky), the Tribune is posting some early election results.  Right now, the following information is available;

7,164 votes have been cast, which represents about 79% of the total.  A little basic extrapolation, and we see that about 9,068 votes were cast in this election.

The votes for Mayor recorded thus far are as follows:
  • Dona Stebbins; 2,867 votes
  • Ed McKnight; 2,697 votes
  • Susan Kahn; 985 votes
  • Larry Steele; 455 votes
The votes for City Commission recorded thus far are as follows:
  • Mary Jolley; 3,561 votes
  • Bill Bronson; 2,981 votes
  • Diane Jovick-Kuntz; 2,427 votes
  • Stuart Lewin; 2,404 votes
  • Elna Hensley, 1,465 votes

Now, tempers ran hot in this race, and everyone seemed to have an opinion.  This number isn't so different from two years ago and two years before that.  I was expecting a higher number of votes cast, especially due to the wonderful weather yesterday.

Why is the vote so low?  I submit to you that a lot of that blame can be placed on the boneheaded decision of the Cascade County Clerk and Recorder to combine the voting locations at the Expo Park.  While it might have made her job easier to count the 4,000 votes made at the polls there, there could have been more votes to count if she had decided to do the job we elected her to perform.

So, I will fire the first shot for the 2008 elections; Lance Olson's job for county commissioner will be up for re-election next November.  My vote will go to a competent candidate that will vote to give me back my local polling place.  I hope that this becomes an issue in that race.

Now, of the 7,164 votes counted and published by the Tribune, the race for City Commission seems to be a pretty done deal.  There is a 500 vote gap between Bronson and Jovick-Kuntz; I don't think that Lewin or Jovick-Kuntz are going to be able to overcome that kind of vote gap with only 2,000 votes left to be counted.  I could be wrong, but I think that we can safely say that we have winners in that race, and they are Jolley and Bronson.  I don't think this result is a real surprise to anyone.

However, look to the 3,561 votes achieved by Jolley.  As the most level-headed coal plant opponent in this race, I think that those votes most cleanly represent the side of our electorate that want a change in our city government.  With that in mind, look to the mayoral race.

You can see that McKnight and Kahn, together, represent about 3,600 votes.  That voting block would have been enough to catapult any single candidate to the mayoral position.  However, as GeeGuy observed last week, as two candidates they split the vote.  McKnight is the clear choice of that bloc; and the 985 votes siphoned by Kahn make her the spoiler in this race if McKnight doesn't pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Don't get me wrong; this is still a horse race.    There are only 170 votes separating Stebbins and McKnight.  Let's see what news the morning brings.

Wednesday, October 31


I went a bit overboard in an earlier post about the October 20 candidate's forum.  I used a word, jail, that was not mentioned by any candidate.  However, to be fair, at least one candidate, Stuart Lewin, did talk about referring "stuff" to the Attorney General.

Mary is right.  Neither she nor any other candidate specifically said that they wanted to put people in jail.  That was only my inference.  So, I apologize.

Tuesday, October 30

Revised Cost Estimates for One Way Conversion

I just got back from the Council of Council's meeting. Andrew Finch,
the senior transportation planner for the city, gave a presentation
on the BID's proposal to convert downtown one way streets to two way.

I will spare you from the entirety of the discussion. However,
remember the city's original estimate of $500,000 to perform the
conversion? Mr. Finch told me that the State transportation
department added some requirements to any conversion that will push
the cost of the conversion to the range of $1.5 Million - $2.5 Million.

Anybody still think this is a good idea?

Logically Critical shutters its doors

One of my favorite podcasts is Logically Critical.  It is funny, thought provoking, intelligent and extremely well-produced.  Unfortunately, as of October 28, it is also no more.

Great Falls Citizen Council Agenda and Minutes

TSJ's notes:  Does anyone find anything interesting about the list of attendees at the last meeting?  Or rather, by who is not on this list?
Council of Councils Meeting

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Gibson Room—Civic Center—7:00 p.m.

Please note:  The Great Falls Citizens Council agenda format allows citizens to speak on each issue prior to Council discussion.  We encourage your participation.  In the interest that all parties can be heard, please limit your comments.

CALL TO ORDER—Chairperson Ron Mathsen—Neighborhood Council #1

 Approval of minutes from the last meeting

Disaster Preparedness—Asst. Fire Chief Steve Hester & Emergency Preparedness Officer Sarah McCafferty (15 minutes)
One-way conversion—Sr. Transportation Planner Andrew Finch 
(15 minutes)

Council information sharing

Great Falls Citizen's Council
Council of Councils Meeting Minutes
May 29, 2007

Delegates and voting members of the Council of Councils present were: Ron Mathsen, Neighborhood Council #1; Phyllis Hemstad, Neighborhood Council #2; Tim Austin, Neighborhood Council #3; Tawny Newth, Neighborhood Council #5; Matt Ott, Neighborhood Council #6; Aaron Weissman, Neighborhood Council #7; and Gary Schoenthal, Neighborhood Council #9.  

Others present were Brandyce Berg, Emily Costea, Shelby Lilley, Ashley Lilley, Shannon Newth, Betty Stimac, Larry Stimac, and Patty Cadwell.

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by acting Chairperson Gary Schoenthal, Delegate for Neighborhood Council #9.

The one order of Old Business was a discussion, and subsequent consensus of opinion, on the proposed Neighborhood Council boundary changes.  All delegates present agreed that leaving the boundaries as they are would be best and several commented that "if it's not broken, let's not try to fix it."  All agreed, also, that a goal of trying to match Council boundaries to voter precincts would be unattainable, now and in the future.  Matt Ott, NC #6, and Phyllis Hemstad, NC#2 both expressed their concern about the already small size of their Councils.  Gary also reminded everyone that the County has decided to have the single voting location at the Montana Expo Park, but for those who can't or don't care to vote there, absentee ballots are available for any reason.  Aaron commented that he believes the single voting location will present a hardship for many of the citizens in his Neighborhood Council area.

The only item of New Business was a presentation by General Deltoro, Commander of the Montana Air National Guard (MANG).  He was accompanied by and introduced Colonel Mike McDonald who will soon become the new Commander of the 120th Fighter Wing of the Guard.  He stated that MANG also oversees the 219th Red Horse Squadron.  He explained that MANG's responsibilities are to uphold the Constitution of the United States and to uphold the Constitution of the State of Montana.  The members of the Guard are local people who stay here to protect the citizens of Montana.  They all have been or will be deployed to Iraq, acting to protect the Constitution of the US, but they work for the Governor of the State of Montana all the time.  He pointed out that concern for new missions at Malmstrom may not be GF citizens' highest priority—that building on the capacity of both MANG and Malmstrom would be the best benefit locally.  Currently, MANG is working to implement a program where experienced MANG pilots will work with inexperienced Air Force pilots for the benefit of both.  Other things MANG has done recently include development of a wireless system that enables MANG, GFPD, and Great Falls Fire Rescue to communicate, and chemical and biological detection and containment systems for disaster response.  Future training for the Guard includes a train derailment exercise in August and a FEMA level exercise next year.  General Deltoro also made a recruitment call to anyone in the audience who might be interested.  Ron Mathsen and Phyllis Hemstad addressed the General on their concerns around the airplane noise containment issue which affects both of their areas.

In Other Business, the Council Delegates commented on their thoughts concerning the upcoming Animal Appeal process and their involvement in same.  Aaron Weissman offered his displeasure with the City Commission for "dropping this in our laps," referring to each Neighborhood Council's option to hear the appeals of Neighborhood Council area citizens denied or revoked the permit to own multiple animals.  Gary Schoenthal saw no problem with the appeal process but did have concerns about the fee schedule that goes with the new Animal Ordinance.  Ron Mathsen pointed out that each Council has the privilege of opting out of hearing appeals.  Tawny Newth was concerned that the Council members would not have clear instructions on how to hear the appeals and Tim Austin also wants training.  Patty Cadwell mentioned that Kory Larsen did indicate that he would do a training prior to the Animal Ordinance's effective date.  Aaron Weissman anticipates problems with hearing some appeals and not hearing others.  Ron Mathsen thought that hearings at neighborhood levels would be positive measures.

Also in Other Business, the Council Delegates expressed concern over the City Commission's lack of response to their February letter requesting that the Commission put in place funding for capital improvements to the City parks.  Patty said she would follow up on that.  Tawny talked about the New Neighbor Packets that were being developed by the members of the ACTION Team.  Also mentioned was an upcoming Leadership training opportunity and the Councils' involvement in Riverfest.

Gary adjourned the meeting at 8:35 p.m.    

Saturday, October 27

0-3-1?? Worst Season Opening in Memory ...

I can't remember a worse October for my Terriers.  However, this looks like it was a good game.

Michigan's goaltender, Billy Sauer, turned away 27 shots on goal in just the first two periods, and held BU scoreless.  I would say that this guy has a future.

Here's hoping to a better November ...