By Bruce Sayler
A county grant will pull Advantage Butte’s checking account back ahead of expense commitments, it was learned Tuesday during the group’s February meeting held in the Butte Plaza Inn.
The Butte Silver Bow Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) fund, commonly known as the bed tax for lodging establishments, will allocate $12,500 to Advantage Butte when the approved acceptance papers are signed and delivered back to the county, Ron Davis of Butte Broadcasting and a past president of Advantage Butte, told the meeting.
Davis presided in place of president Rody Holman of PayneWest Insurance, who had to cancel his attendance at the last minute because of another pressing issue, Davis said.
Treasurer Brad Spear of the Anderson ZurMuehlen Company accounting firm had said the Advantage Butte checking account stood at $13,985.60 with $21,555 committed toward underwriting coming events.
The group is still waiting on an unknown amount to possibly come from the Butte Silver Bow Economic Development Fund, decided on by the board of commissioners.
The TBID board then might match the Economic Development Fund allocation for further Advantage Butte money in its procurement coffers, Davis said.
The TBID grant was approved “for continuation of bringing sporting events to Butte for economic development,” Davis said, attributing the phrasing to the notification letter from the board.
Bill Melvin, manager of the Butte Civic Center, moved that Advantage Butte accept the allocation and Ed Heard Jr., of Butte Silver Bow Parks and Recreation, seconded the motion. It passed decisively on a voice vote.
The turnout for the meeting was smaller than usual, but business was still conducted.
Davis said that the Advantage Butte Executive Board, having learned that TBID money was coming available, agreed to provide money to cover tournament hospitality room expenses with the amount yet to be confirmed. Money for such next year will be raised by the return of the Southwest Montana Basketball Classic all-star games planned for March 15 at Montana Tech’s HPER Complex. The event showcases the area’s top high school boys’ and girls’ basketball playershe in a doubleheader. It has not been held since 2019 because of the Covid-19 pandemic precautions.
Davis said Advantage Butte may be given back the hospitality room responsibilities by the Butte Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce, or possibly be part of a partnership on them between the two functions.
He said a request from organizers for $4,000 toward expenses to put on the Advantage Butte Classic club volleyball tournament in April has been forwarded to the executive board for consideration.
Melvin’s Civic Center report included the Cyclops Invitational and state junior high wrestling tournaments to be held in the arena this weekend. He said about 1,000 wrestlers are expected to participate.
He said the state middle school basketball tournament is to be held in late March prior to the volleyball tourneys. He added that a bull riding event is on the docket for April 8-9.
Melvin said Butte and the Civic Center received good reviews from the Western B-C Divisional high school wrestling tournament held February 4-5. He added Butte now has a good chance of being part of a three- or four-community rotation to play host to the annual tourney, a qualifier for the state tournament.
Butte High Activities Director Chuck Merrifield was absent from the meeting but messaged through Davis that planning is in full motion for the state Class AA-A track meet to be held at Bulldog Memorial Stadium May 27-28. He and Butte Central Athletic Director Chad Petersen are chairing the project, which will mark the first time since 1997 that Class AA and Class A teams have held their track championships at the same time in the same place.
Bob Lazzari, director of parks and recreation for Butte-Silver Bow, said expectations are good for a strong debut of the Uptown Hoops three-man basketball tournament planned for Butte in mid-June. The tourney is being offered by Keegan and Kayla McCarthy and entry forms are available for several age groups in male and female divisions.
“I think it will be a lot bigger than they anticipated,” Heard said, noting that the tourney will precede Spokane Hoopfest by a week and organizers from the Spokane tourney have been helping the McCarthys with the preliminary planning.
Lazzari also said a kids mountain bike race is being planned for June 18 at the Big Butte recreation area.
Lazzari and Heard both said participation in county recreation leagues remains high with full registration in the recently completed adult volleyball leagues, and high attendance for pickle ball play in afternoon and evening leagues in the Civic Center annex.
They confirmed high school baseball, to join the Montana High School Association slate of state-sanctioned prep sports next school year, will have use of 3 Legends Stadium at Copper Mountain Youth Sports Park.
Lazzari reminded that the county will be holding a summer employment job fair at Butte High School on February 23 for students to apply for summer work with the parks and recreation. He said it will include positions at the Ridge Waters pool and water park.
Stephanie Sorini, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, was also absent, but messaged the group through Melvin that the Chamber will be providing hospitality stations for the Butte 100 mountain bike race in July. She said 400 cyclists have registered, so far.
Discussion was held within the group about a possible training session for basketball table workers so that more help can be found on scorebooks, scoreboards, public address announcing and the new 35-second clock to join the dais next season. Dates and details will be told later.