Football, swimming, rodeo gain Advantage Butte help

By Bruce Sayler

Four Advantage Butte Executive Committee funding recommendations were approved, including one already completed, during Tuesday’s September meeting of the organization held in the Butte Plaza Inn.

Two of the requests were for swim meets and the others were for football and rodeo events. The football request was to cover facility expenses at Naranche Stadium as an alternate site for the Glasgow-Whitehall and Great Falls High-Missoula Sentinel football games earlier this month. The Whitehall-Glasgow game was held at the Butte High stadium because the Whitheall facility was still in renovation of its grandstands. The Great Falls-Sentinel game was moved to Naranche due to heavy smoke from wildfires in the Missoula area. Three other — Browning-Hamilton, Polson-Corvallis and Thompson Falls-Eureka — games were approved for Advantage Butte financial support, if the smoke continued to create need for the games to be played in Butte. However, the smoke lifted enough for those games to be held at original sites.

The Advantage Butte Executive Committee paid $1,250 for the Glasgow-Whitehall and Great Falls-Sentinel games to be played at Naranche Stadium. Tuesday, the committee presented the request to the membership.

Bill Melvin of the Butte Civic Center moved for approval, Brandie Jensen of the Hampton Inn seconded the motion and it carried on a voice vote.

Ron Davis of Butte Broadcasting and an executive committee member, said being able to offer the teams a place to play was “a real positive for our community” and added that plans were talked about readying Bulldog Memorial Stadium for use if more teams found the need to come to Butte to play their games those smokey weekends.

“It was an opportunity to open our arms to welcome others to use our facilities,” Rody Holman, president of Advantage Butte and PayneWest Insurance delegate, said.

Ray Ueland, who is involved in several Butte businesses, but said he was representing one, the M&M, Tuesday, pointed out that the artificial turf installed last year at Naranche Stadium made it possible for such an undertaking and validated spending the money for the turf.

“The school administrators would’ve been rightfully more parochial about protecting the field if it was natural grass instead of the sprint turf,” Holman added. “There is no impact to that turf.”

Davis and Holman said the gesture created a lot of good will around the state and response has been complimentary, putting Butte at the front of consideration for future, similar projects.

The executive committee also recommended giving $2,000 for each the Nov. 3-5 Mining City Classic and the Jan. 12-14 Snowball Classic swim meets to be held at the Butte Family YMCA. Ueland made the motion for approval, at-large representative Hoot Gibson seconded and the motion carried on a voice vote.

Philip Borup, executive director of the Butte Family  YMCA, said improvements have been made for the pool, which, he said, will see more entries for its meets this season due to landing the state meet in the spring.

“Usually, being awarded a state meet doubles your entries for your other meets,” he said.

So, much more tourist business related to the swim meets should be felt in Butte. Borup said new starting platforms and lane ropes have been added.

“That actually makes us a faster pool,” he said  and noted that six to seven meets total are expected to be held at the Y this season.

Another $2,000 amount, this one for rodeo, was also approved at the meeting. It will pay arena rent at the Civic Center for putting on the Northern Rodeo Association Finals Oct. 6-7. Davis made the motion, Ueland seconded and it carried on a voice vote.

Melvin said it will be the seventh straight year for the NRA Finals in Butte, “and we’d sure like to keep it.”

At the start of the meeting, Advantage Butte Treasurer Brad Spear of Anderson Zurmuehlen and Co. reported $31,926 in the checking account with $12,600 committed to projects already this school year. Davis reminded that the group put out more than $41,000 last year for bringing events to Butte for the benefit of community economics. Spear said membership renewal invoices have been mailed. Fee payments will increase available funds.

Butte-Silver Bow Parks & Recreation Director J.P. Gallagher said work is on schedule for the pool going in at Stodden Park. He said several other projects are on the park menu and added the Stodden tennis courts will not likely be available for the 2018 spring season, but the courts at Father Sheehan Park, and Whittier and West elementary schools will be ready. Butte is being mentioned as a potential site for a Class B Divisional tennis tournament in May.

Gallagher said more details about the new Stodden Park playground and entrance will be part of an update presentation to be given soon.

“Lots of good things are going on,” he said.

Melvin said he will start trying to lure more volleyball events to the Civic Center after Butte-Silver Bow bought portable sports courts for the facility and broke them in at the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge college volleyball tournament held in late August. He said he will likely enter a request for funding help for the Western A Divisional basketball tournament set for February in the arena.

Don Peoples Jr., president of Butte Central Schools, said the Maroon Activities Center has two larger volleyball tournaments on its agenda. The Maroons’ Blocktoberfest high school tournament next month will involve 12 teams, then the Western A Divisional tourney is set for Nov. 2-4.

Borup said the Y’s soccer and flag football programs for Butte grade schoolers will start Monday and a decision was made to hold one basketball season this year, rather than two, and have a two-week break midway through. He said the Y is investigating ways to help the participants improve their skills.

Borup also said the Y’s Active Teens program has been renewed by the Washington Foundstion for another year. He said it began with a goal of serving 350 kids and is now up to an enrollment of 600. He said the summer swim lessons program taught more than 300 students.

Butte 100 owner Stephanie Sorini lauded the efforts of outgoing race director Gina Evans for her leadership in growing the event to a major competition for mountain bikers. Evans announced she is leaving the position to pursue other opportunities as a business owner and medical study rep. Sorini said the search for a new director will soon be underway and that the date for next year’s race has been set as July 28. She said registration will be held on Jan. 9 and is expected to sell out about half an hour after opening.

Gallagher said the first baseball season for 3 Legends Stadium at Miners Park on the grounds of Copper Mountain Youth Sports Park proved to be successful. It was the site of the Southern A Divisional tournament for American Legion baseball in May. Gallagher said the facility was the subject of many compliments from visitors.

“And, despite what some people have been saying, the grass is growing there,” he said, responding to earlier criticism over how turf was planted in an area outside the ballpark.

Holman slated the next Advantage Butte meeting for Oct. 17 at the Butte Plaza Inn.