Lighter Advantage Butte meeting is mostly about updates

By Bruce Sayler

The Southwest Montana All-Star Hoops Classic has been scheduled for March 15 at the Montana Tech HPER Complex, it was announced Tuesday during the January meeting of Advantage Butte.

The meeting was held at the Butte Plaza Inn. Dorea Wilmoth, Advantage Butte secretary and Butte Comfort Inn representative, made the announcement on behalf of Marko Lucich, executive director of the Butte Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce. Lucich was absent due to recovering from surgery related to injuries he suffered in a fall late last year.

The Classic is a boys’ and girls’ basketball doubleheader involving stars from the high school hoops seasons now in progress. A media panel will select the team members. The doubleheader is a fundraiser for Advantage Butte and the Chamber with proceeds going toward expenses associated with hospitality rooms held at championship tournaments and meets the sports procurement organization helps bring to town.

The meeting was light with several of those persons who usually attend absent from Tuesday’s gathering. Advantage Butte Vice President Kami Johnson presided. She represents the Butte Plaza Inn and the Butte Copper Company.

Montana Tech officials were among those absent, but forwarded that the Green-and-White Spring Game ending spring football drills will be held on April 23. Wilmoth noted the college athletics program will also hold its dinner/auction the same weekend on campus. She added it will be a Las Vegas-themed affair called “Copper Nugget.”

Don Peoples Jr., representing the Maroon Activities Center (MAC) said the out-of-town entry list for the facility’s annual Holiday Hoops kids’ basketball tournament was down to 18 teams from the more than 60 usually registered. He said Christmas being on a Thursday created a longer weekend than usual and so was told that many families took advantage of the extra time to travel longer distances to see relatives during the break instead of participating in basketball tourneys.

The tournaments are traditionally held on the weekends.  “Christmas is on a Sunday next year, so I don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Peoples commented.

He added that the MAC has often been the venue for Frontier Conference, Class A Divisional and Class C District and Divisional basketball tournaments since it opened in 2005, but will not have any for the first time this year.

Butte will, however, be host to the Western A SuperDivisional tournament at the end of next month. It is scheduled for the Civic Center.

Gina Evans of the Butte 100 mountain bike spectacular said the entry lottery has started and will continue through Feb. 28. She said entries are coming in from all over the nation for the race set for this summer. Racers will learn in early March whether they were drawn for spots in the race. The lottery cost is $5 per entrant. Represented states so far include California, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Texas, along with others, she said. Leftover proceeds from the lottery will go toward the Butte Trails project or Mariah’s Challenge.

Butte Parks and Recreation Director J.P. Gallagher updated the group on the fast-approaching winter festival. The inaugural Butte SNoFLINGA is slated for Jan. 29-31 and is to include a variety of winter activities.

“The first day, we’ll be at the U.S. High Altitude Sports Center,” Gallagher said. “The Wilson Brothers will present a videotaped introductory speech and Dave Silk will be there.”

Bryon and Brad Wilson are United States Olympic freestyle skiers, specializing in moguls and currently competing on the World Cup circuit. Bryon Wilson earned a Bronze Medal at the 2010 Winter Games. Silk, a Butte doctor, competed as a speedskater in the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics and was the 1986 World Cup overall champion.

Gallagher added that cross country skiing at Homestake Lodge is planned for Jan. 30 along with a family day at the Original Mine yard and rail events at the Mountain Con site. A mini-luge course and a snowman building contest are among the family day events planned. The rail slate is to involve speed skiing, freestyle tricks, snowboarding and such, accompanied by live music.

Activities on the final day, Gallagher said, are to include a 10-kilometer run from Montana Tech to the Granite Mountain Memorial and back, and a dog jog at Skyline Park.

“Hopefully, it will bring some people to town and they can see what we have here,” Gallagher said.
He also said the Tour of Montana bike race will go near Butte this summer during Evel Knievel Days. He reminded, too, that a vote on whether to proceed to the ballot with any of the outdoor pool options presented to the public will be held at Wednesday night’s Council of Commissioner meeting in the courthouse.

Advantage Butte Treasurer Brad Spear of Anderson ZurMuehlen and Co. reported that the group has $61,165 in the bank and that $19,900 of the total is already committed to coming events. He said mid-year invoicing is also taking place now for owed membership dues.

Johnson said she, Wilmoth, Advantage Butte Past President Ron Davis of Butte Broadcasting, and Civic Center Manager Bill Melvin all represented the organization and the city at the Montana High School Association meetings held Saturday through Monday in Billings. She said 222 persons attended the meetings and the Butte group was able to converse with some of the attendees, though the turnout was lower than expected.

Wilmoth, relaying information for Melvin, reminded that the Civic Center will be the site of a professional boxing card on Saturday, and a bull riding event the following weekend.

Philip Borup represented the Butte Family YMCA and its new Riptides Swim Team. He said the ongoing Lighten Your Load weight-losing contest has drawn a record 450 teams and the participants are being encouraged to patronize local restaurants providing associated specials. He said the contest goes on until the end of March.

Borup said 188 competitors participated in the Butte Tarpons’ club swim meet held last weekend in the Butte YMCA pool. the Riptides are in the process of replacing the Tarpons as the Butte club team for swimming.  “Everybody was happy and all went well,” Borup said of the meet. “Nobody even complained about the white water the city had for awhile. We added 4,000 gallons of water (to wash out the white).”  The city water connected to new equipment last week, which city officials said, caused some airy, white water in the lines.

Borup said the Y is looking to put on more club and high school meets and is going to offer training for officials. He said high schools nearby looking for a pool to serve as a venue for a meet may contact him. It was the site for a Helena-hosted meet held earlier this winter season due to the closing of the Carroll College pool, which Helena prep teams used as their competitive venue.

Borup said he is hoping the Butte Y pool will be able to play host to a regional meet for YMCA teams soon.  Some upgrades are needed for the facility to be in the meet-hosting business, he added. He said the Riptides will receive the $15,000 raised by the Tarpon club to go toward the $35,000 needed for buying and installing new starting platforms. He said a new urethane-based floor has been put down in the locker rooms and that he has hopes for locker upgrades.

The next Advantage Butte meeting is scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Butte Plaza Inn.

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