Plans proceeding for west end beautification project

At Thursday’s meeting of the Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) an update on the west end beautification project was given. The goal is to create a non-commercial area that draws people in from Interstate 94 at the Fort Keogh exit.

The west end is located west of the Tongue River, south of the Yellowstone River, east of Fort Keogh and north of the interstate. 

According to MCAEDC Development Committee Chairman Lew Vadheim, the committee is working on finalizing the details of the project.

The Development Committee has partnered with Sarah Pett’s writing class at Miles Community College to work on a promotional brochure to be placed at a kiosk planned as part of the project. 

“This is their semester project. Then the spring semester they want to do all the [other] stuff for the kiosk,” Miles City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Laney said about Pett’s writing class.

The brochures will feature the history of Miles City, Fort Keogh, horse culture and more. Information on area businesses available to visitors will also be provided.

The committee also plans on adding trail or walking paths, benches along the paths and a gravel parking lot in the project area. The committee has also worked out a deal with artist Jim Dolan for five steel sculpted horses to be placed on the property. Dolan is the creator of the Tongue River Horses that were displayed near the interstate this summer. 

“The next step is fundraising. I’m guessing we’ll need $100,000,” said Vadheim. “I hope we can raise all of it; grants are being applied for.” 

Also at Thursday’s meeting the council received an update on the MCAEDC Executive Director position, which was vacated by the retirement of Mike Coryell last month. A selection committee was created to handle the applications. 

“We’ve received one application so far,” said Paul Lewis, a member of the selection committee. “We decided not to move forward with a scheduled interview yet. We’re still trying to garner some interest.”

According to Lewis they had an open-ended deadline for the applications but the committee decided to attach an end date. 

All applications are due Dec. 9. The committee is hoping this will create a sense of urgency.

“We’re under the gun now. This our second, possibly third month now and with the holidays and weather starting to kick-in, interest will probably wane until after the holidays,” said committee member Jim Atchison. “So we need to find a good candidate and move forward with this ASAP.”

To submit an application send a letter of interest, resume and reference list to: Jim Atchison, PO Box 1935, Colstrip, MT 59323.

Because of having no executive director the MCAEDC office in the Custer County Courthouse remains closed. Currently, Atchison is handling all business loans while phone calls are being forwarded to the Miles City Chamber of Commerce. 

The council was also updated on current new business development in Miles City.

A new manufacturing plant is currently looking into funding for a business in Miles City. 

According to Kathy McLane, finance committee chairwoman, they are still working on their business plan. 

MCAEDC is currently helping the business get on their feet. McLane estimates they will be hiring 8-10 employees. 

Other than the manufacturing plant, two other Miles City businesses that MCAEDC has helped will be opening for the Christmas Stroll. 

Baker’s Cupboard and Vintage & Rustics in Montana will be celebrating their grand openings tonight during the downtown Christmas Stroll.