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Buena Vista Community Recieves Grant to Update Sewer System

January 23, 2017

The Montana Department of Commerce has announced a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $373,770 to Missoula County to support the development of a replacement sewer system at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located one mile west of the Missoula International Airport. This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) award will be combined with Montana Department of Natural Resources and additional Missoula County funds to support the $469,885 project budget.  The new sewer system will replace an outdated wastewater system that was initially installed in the 1950s.

“The County applied for a State CDBG grant twice and the applications were rejected – not because the project was not worthy or the proposals were not good, but because there were other more pressing and urgent needs in other parts of the state,” Sindie Kennedy, Missoula County Grant Administrator said. “After the 2016 application was rejected, the State offered a ‘second opportunity’ to Missoula County to re-apply. The second opportunity resulted in an award. This successful application was due to the cooperation and assistance from two County government agencies—the Grants and Public Works Departments—as well as the nonprofit NeighborWorks Montana and, of course, the residents themselves.”

Originating as an RV park, Buena Vista gradually became permanent housing with 36 units of fulltime residents. In November 2013, with the assistance of NeighborWorks Montana, the residents organized themselves into the Buena Vista Community, Inc., purchased the property on which their homes sit and became a Resident-Owned Community (ROC).  Since, Buena Vista community members have enjoyed the pride of ownership and have worked tirelessly to improve their community.

“Through resident ownership the residents at Buena Vista gained stability in the ownership of their land and have made many improvements to their property using their own resources.” Kaia Peterson of NeighborWorks said. “The sewer will be a major and much needed improvement that would not have been possible without the support of the County and CDBG. We are thrilled that this funding is being awarded, water quality is being protected, and the community will continue to be affordable to low-income people.”

The antiquated wastewater system at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park flows to an unlined lagoon system at the bottom of a draw that once served as a tributary to La Valle Creek. The mobile homes within the park are each connected to an 8-inch main that sends the sewage into the lagoons. The lagoon system is likely leaking and discharging wastewater to groundwater. It is suspected that leakage of untreated, or inadequately treated, sewage is occurring directly into the natural drainage with eventual discharge to the Clark Fork River. Updating and improving the sewer system will mitigate the natural resource and public health and safety problems associated with the continued operation of the lagoon system. As proposed, a lift station would send the flows to an existing sewer line along nearby Training Drive. The line would then carry effluent to the main sewer line on Airport Road.
 
“This is a common situation where the cost of improvements is beyond the means of the affected community, but the dedicated support from Buena Vista residents to address the problem was instrumental to the pursuit of funding.” Amy Rose with Missoula County Public Works said.
 
Seeing a modern sanitation project come to fruition has been a high priority for the community members and Missoula County.
 
“Since we have taken ownership of this community, we have made many improvements,” said Terry Hauter, Buena Vista Board President. “The pride in ownership is evident. Updating our wastewater system will increase that pride because we will know our water is safer and we are not contaminating our community.” 


Fairgrounds Revamps Rental Pricing

January 20, 2017

As part of the ongoing efforts to revitalize the Missoula County Fairgrounds, staff have developed a new pricing structure to better accommodate renters of the facility. The Board of Missoula County Commissioners approved the rates during their administrative public meeting on Jan. 18, 2017. Rates are effective immediately.
 
“The previous rate structure was very complex and required calculating the cost of every aspect of the rental, including utilities, vendor fees, and services from our staff,” Tom Aldrich said. “These new rates should be much more attractive for current and future renters as we now have everything built into a fixed rate, making planning and budgeting much easier. We are also doing away with the vendor fees we used to take from renters. We know very well that food and beverage sales make many events possible, so we are helping to maximize the potential of every event held at the Fairgrounds.” 
 Western Montana Fairgrounds Lawn
Fairgrounds staff reviewed past years’ attendance of each space and divided the overall costs/revenues by the usage to determine a fixed rate for each structure. Rates and facilities rental information are now clearly available on the Fairgrounds’ website, including building features and usage suggestions. 
 
Rental revenues and the number of events hosted at the Fairgrounds continue to increase. From 2015 to 2016, the Fairgrounds experienced a 21 percent increase in rental revenues, bringing in $78,778. Additionally, more than 100 events were held across 231 rental days in 2016. This was a 23 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.
 
The Fairgrounds hosted an estimated total of 94,472 people in 2016, during all events. The 2016 Western Montana Fair saw 67,287 attendees, the highest in a number of years. 
 
Fairgrounds staff expect to see even more events at the Fairgrounds as a result of the new, and more simplified, pricing structure.

Congratulations, Jennie Dixon

Each January, Missoula County's Chief Planning Officer presents an award for outstanding public service to one of our non-management CAPS staff. Previous recipients were Jamie Erbacher and Mitch Doherty who set the bar very high. This year's recipient is Jennie Dixon, a Planner IV who has now raised the bar once again with her commitment and approach to public service.

Jennie Dixon being presented the Outstanding Public Service Award

On a daily basis Jennie demonstrates her value as a professional to other staff, elected officials, the County in general, and on a daily if not hourly basis, to the public. She is deeply committed to public service, is a tireless worker who also brings warmth to County interactions with members of the public. Jennie is an excellent and caring listener who takes whatever time is needed to help the public, elected officials and staff understand the technical and practical aspects of the County's daily business. Her commitment to her profession and the County and those she serves sets an example that all Community and Planning Office staff strive to replicate.

Please join us in congratulating Jennie on receiving the Outstanding Public Service Award for her work in 2016.


Edgar S. Paxson Paintings Reinstalled in Missoula County Courthouse

 

January 4, 2017

 

After taking a four-year leave of absence during the Missoula County Courthouse renovation project, the historic Edgar S. Paxson paintings have been framed and reinstalled in the Courthouse. The iconic paintings were removed in 2012 as one of the final preparations for the renovation project. During the time of construction, the Paxson paintings were on temporary display at the Missoula Art Museum and later moved to secure storage. Jackson Contractor Group and the Missoula Art Museum went above and beyond in their efforts to make this initiative a success our community can be proud of. A time-lapse video of the installation is above.

In addition to being reinstalled, the murals gained dark custom frames from Burnich Frame and Molding and now have appropriate lighting, thanks to Dennis Wright with Maxus Consulting Engineers PC. After renovating and repainting the historic courtroom, local painter Amanda Bielby was able to repaint decorative numerals under each painting that correspond with interpretative literature for visitors.

“At first I was headed with a Victorian design to go with architecture in the building, but after a meeting it was obvious that the design should be a tribute to the Native American influence of the paintings,” Bielby said. “I just felt lucky to be able to get my eyes so close to the paintings and take a moment to study how they may have come together.  I wondered if maybe Paxson had some of the feelings of honor and achievement  that I do being able to be a part of the history in this building,” Bielby said.

The Courthouse contains eight murals by E.S. Paxson, which were finished in 1914.  Edgar Samuel Paxson is probably best known for his painting of "Custer's Last Stand," finished in 1899. In 1906, he moved his studio to Missoula from Butte and in 1912 began a group of murals depicting early Montana history.

“I was able to work on the murals’ conservation reviews, documentation and research efforts during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial,” Missoula Art Musuem’s Registrar, Jennifer Reifsneider said. “Reframing the Paxson murals – literally and figuratively – always makes me feel part of a unique community and proud of how we collaborate and engage with our visual and cultural histories.”

As an added and wonderful surprise, the underpaintings were uncovered during the renovation process. According to the Missoula Art Museum, the underpaintings, now hung in the north stairwell between the second and third floors of the Courthouse, depict wagon trains, an infrequent subject but in line with Paxson’s depictions of Indian trails and people in the landscape. While the draftsmanship is strong, the coloration is only blocked in, using the characteristic light, pastel colors that Paxson used as underpaint.

Paxson’s large-scale paintings depict in a grandiose manner some of the historic events that occurred in the area: Father Ravalli arriving at Fort Owen, the signing of the Hellgate Treaty, the Salish people leaving the Bitterroot Valley for the Flathead Reservation, three paintings featuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The paintings capture the spirit of the time, a nostalgic yearning for the bygone days of the heroic west, rendered with Paxson’s typical painstaking attention to detail of costume and accoutrement.

This is not the first time that the Missoula County Commission has invested in the murals. In 1980, Commissioners Wilfred V. Thibodeau, Barbara Evans and Joseph Boyer signed a re-dedication proclamation resolving that the week of April 21 – 25 would be observed as E.S. Paxson week, and April 25, Paxson’s birthday, would be recognized as Paxson Painting Appreciation and Dedication Day. A copy of the resolution is attached with this email.

More information about each of the eight depictions and Paxson’s biographical account from the Missoula Art Museum is included.

We encourage members of the media and the public to visit the Courthouse to view the installation.