By Bruce Sayler
Casting a line for the Western B SuperDivisional high school wrestling tournament was one of the major actions Advantage Butte took during its March meeting held Tuesday at the Butte Plaza Inn.
The monthly gathering was held a week earlier than usual so as not to conflict with this year’s St. Patrick’s Day local celebration.
The group also granted money to hold a volleyball tournament and heard reports and updates on sports matters pertaining to Butte.
Advantage Butte president Rody Holman, of PayneWest Insurance, and Butte Civic Center manager Bill Melvin said a request was entertained from Jefferson High School administrators Tim Norbeck and Mike Moodry, both of whom are Butte Central graduates and former Butte Central administrators, teachers and coaches, to bid on the 2021 Western B tourney.
Melvin said he entered a bid of $3,000 for the two-day meet, which the Class B membership deemed too expensive. Holman said he was then approached to help on the project and that he met with the Advantage Butte executive board. The result was a recommendation to allow Advantage Butte to foot the Civic Center bill and advance a zero-dollar bid on the tournament to bring it to Butte.
Brought to the body at the Tuesday meeting, Ray Ueland, past Advantage Butte president and current delegate for The Metals Sports Bar & Grill, moved to OK such a funding for the tournament. Butte-Silver Bow Parks and Recreation director J.P. Gallagher seconded it. The motion carried in the membership voice vote.
Anaconda, Cut Bank and Shelby are also expected to bid on the tournament, it was said. Holman and Melvin said the tournament will involve 23 teams and bracket 246 wrestlers, projected to draw 2,000 fans for the February 5-6, 2021 dates. Melvin added it might be possible that the Civic Center would then become part of a tournament rotation and play host to it every second or third year. The selected venue is to be announced at a later date.
The volleyball tournament is more immediate. Holman said the Advantage Butte executive council met and OK’d a request from the Velocity Volleyball Academy of Butte to spend $3,000 on Civic Center rental for the tourney, slated for March 28-29. The 40-team club volleyball tourney is to be held on four Civic Center courts, including the hardwood in the annex, and at the Montana Tech HPER Complex. Gallagher moved that the Advantage Butte membership follow the board’s recommendation and Maria Pochervina of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce seconded. It passed easily on a voice vote.
It will be the second holding of the tourney, started by Butte High head coach Jeni Hope last March.
“It is a nice event and looks like it will be growing some legs,” Holman said about the prospects of the tournament enduring success.
Treasurer Brad Spear, the representative for the Anderson Zurmuehlen and Co. firm, reported $19,977 rests in the Advantage Butte checking account, and that $24,200 has been committed this year with another $2,000 already earmarked for expenses next school year. Midyear dues and possible development grant monies will replenish the treasury, he noted.
Extra preparations are in place for the state Class B high school boys’ and girls’ basketball tournaments to be held in the Civic Center Thursday through Friday. Melvin said bus shuttle service will be available to tournament patrons. The buses will run on the half hour between the arena and the motels.
Reclamation excavation in the Civic Center parking lot has further limited parking availability and is hoped the shuttle service will help compensate.
Melvin also said extra cleaning help has been hired to keep counters, railings, etc., sanitized as a precaution to the coronavirus outbreak that has spread internationally, but not yet discovered in Montana. He reminded that hand sanitizers have been stationed in different parts of the Civic Center for quite some time.
A roller derby on March 21, the March 28-29 volleyball tournament and a bull riding event now scheduled for May 15-16, postponed from the end of January, are other sporting events coming up on the Civic Center calendar, Melvin said.
Gallagher said his crews are waiting only on thaw before jumping on the tasks of readying the Stodden Park softball fields for this spring’s season. Three straight weekends of tournaments in May will end the high school softball season in Butte with Butte Central’s annual LaVerne Combo Invitational, followed by the Western AA Divisional and the state Class A tournament.
Dorea Wilmoth of Town Pump is leaving the secretary post she has held for Advantage Butte in recent years. Holman said a successor is being sought, adding that Wilmoth “has done a remarkable job” and finding someone to fill the role will be difficult. Work-related reasons are why Wilmoth cannot continue in the office, she said.
The Butte 100 mountain bike spectacular will be held on July 25 this year and planning is proceeding as usual, Wilmoth said event owner Stephanie Sorini updated in an electronic message.
Pochervina reminded that the Southwest Montana All-Star Basketball Classic will be held on March 18 at the Montana Tech HPER Complex. High school basketball stars from the Southwest Montana area will play in a doubleheader, girls at 6 p.m. and boys at 7:30. Three-point shooting contests will also be held, and bands, cheerleaders and a dance school will perform. Tickets are available in advance at the Chamber of Commerce office, 1000 George Street, or online the Chamber site. Costs are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and $5 for those accompanying dancers. Prices will increase $2 day of the games and at the door.
The Advantage Butte membership held an informal discussion after the meeting about the possible needs of finding more funding avenues in the face of rising expenses associated with putting on events, and a much fuller slate of events scheduled for Butte next school year.
The next Advantage Butte meeting is scheduled for April 21.