Pine Hills Park in works

Janelle Grant, left, of the Keep Miles City Beautiful committee, explains plans for the new Pine Hills Parks to Ginny Bricco, of the Miles City Beautification committee. Because there are few of the Beautification committee members still in town, the group decided to disband and donate all its remaining funds to Keep Miles City Beautiful to help make the new Pine Hills Park a reality. (Star photo by Steve Allison)


The big cottonwood tree on Pine Hills property that people often park under while eating lunch has been jokingly referred to as Pine Hills Park. Starting this spring, a genuine Pine Hills Park is under construction as part of the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility’s efforts to give back to the community.

Jeff Lee, unit manager at Pine Hills, is coordinating the construction of the park along with Janelle Grant of Keep Miles City Beautiful and a large number of other individuals and organizations. Grant of KMCB has been writing grants and providing ideas for park layout and how to deal with recycling and other issues.

Additionally, semi-retired, part-time employees Pete Lemelin and Bob Cremer have put in many hours to assist.

The actual design of the park was created by Pine Hills students, who will help build picnic tables and park benches. According to Lee, “a couple of ideas are still being tossed around” to decide how those will be built, depending on funding and other considerations.

Work started with Oftedal Construction donating culvert to reroute an old irrigation ditch along one side of the property. Doug Nelson Trucking donated a flatbed, and manpower to collect and deliver the culvert was provided by Pine Hills students. John Muggli Construction donated the work to dig out for the culvert, and Doeden Construction provided fill dirt after the culvert was laid. Student labor installed the culvert, which allowed them to learn a skill as they worked.

Many of the projects are designed to teach students skills as well as provide improvements for what has been an empty lot for many years.

Star Structures provided plans for no charge, and Bloedorn and ProBuild donated lumber for the construction of an 8x10 shed which will be placed on the park. Fastenal provided tools to build the structure. Once the shed is in place, Montana-Dakota Utilities will provide power and light. 

Ground work has been done in cooperation with Custer County Fire, which has provided heavy equipment for tilling and leveling. Ag Partners provided chemicals for weed control so that grass can be planted.

While the ground was being worked, some metal detection was done. While most of the material found wasn’t terribly interesting, an old black powder bullet was dug up and identified by Ben Rentschler as being from the late 19th century.

Clarence Huschka and Ray Peaslee were involved in the well work, with participating students being fascinated by the work required to clean out and set up a well. 

Eventually, a sprinkler system will water the park.

Holy Rosary Healthcare Foundation has donated funding for a horseshoe-shaped walking path that will connect with the existing sidewalk on South Haynes. 

MCI2 is raising money for playground equipment.

Funds for the park have also been donated by Stockman Bank, The Nefsy Foundation, The Nibs and Edna Allen Foundation, First Interstate Bank, Dairy Queen, Mac’s Frontierland, Aaron’s, Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn Express of Miles City, M & C Beverage, Gary Matthews, Integrity Reality, and Riverside Marine and Cycle. Pizza Hut held a fundraiser with a portions of a night’s proceeds donated. 

According to Lee, “The goal for this summer is to place the shed, get power and lights installed, the sidewalks done and grass planted.” Playground equipment and a small dog park enclosed in a 30x60 chain link fence may be done this fall. Tree and flower planting will be done when suitable.

A parking lot will complete the project, although probably not until next year. 

Individuals or organizations interested in contributing can contact Lee at Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility.

Lee noted, “We see half a dozen vehicles parked under that thing [the big cottonwood tree] whenever we are working out there.” 

Next year, Pine Hills Park will be official.