Community, Wildlife

On the Road and Around the Pond

Oh the Road & Around the Pond

This is an exciting time of year as we await the appearance of babies. We have does with rounded bellies. We have yet to see a fawn.  The fall burning of tree stumps around the yard resulted in holes and burrows that were not always filled before winter set in.  An opportunistic skunk moved into a burrow created by the removal of a tree root. Looking out the kitchen window we spotted 4 baby skunks. The babies are really cute but not particularly welcome.

He goslings are starting to color.  The ducks paused to finally get their portraits. We have spotted only a handful of tadpoles. Those tadpoles are steadily growing. The turtles are on the move and on the road. We noticed a neighbor stopping to carefully remove a turtle on the road to the safety of a grassed area.

A pair of whopping cranes are occasionally stopping to hunt in the field. The coyote is hunting in the field and along the road. The feral cats are making regular treks along the road. -Patches

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Community

Mobile Bookstore Donated Books to Trego School

Trego Elementary school recently received a donation of books from Saint Rita’s Textual Apothecary. Trego School is continuing to expand its library- and its filing system.

The school has been working to expand the library and replace the card catalog with a more modern system, in conjunction with the school’s reading program. They are still hoping to acquire more books for students of all ages.

This week marks midterm of the fourth quarter- the last day of school (and end of the year picnic) will be on June 3rd.

Our thanks to the mobile bookstore for helping to foster a love of reading in our community.

Community

Trego Civic Center Membership Now Open to all TFS Fire District

This past Friday evening (March 26, 2021), the Trego Civic Center had its annual meeting and membership drive.

Attendees received an update on the raffle, new board members were appointed, and the bylaws were amended to change the requirements for membership, opening it up to a much wider area. Now, anyone living in the TFS Fire District can become a member. Previously, membership had been restricted to residents of Montana School District 53 – Trego and Stryker.

There was a proposal from the North Valley Foodbank to use the Civic Center to achieve more efficient food distribution. Then, there was a discussion on maintenance of the hall. Finally, the evening concluded with suggestions for activities and fundraising that could take place at the hall.

New Board Members:

Two Positions were up for vote: those held by Lindy Smith and Donna Todd Lowery. Todd Swan (of the Trego Pub & General Store) and Erica Ness were voted in as their replacements.

Amended Bylaws:

*** Current Bylaws, under the membership eligibility section, state that to be a member you must live in or own property in Trego. *** We would like to amend that to state that to be a member you live in or own property in the TFS (Trego, Fortine, Stryker) fire district.”

The sheet handed out to attendees, stating the meeting agenda.

North Valley Foodbank:

Lauren Jarrold from North Valley Foodbank arrived to discuss a proposal to use the Civic Center as a satellite food pantry. Biweekly food distributions from the mobile food pantry at Trego have served an average of twice as many families than at Eureka. (Trego has an average of 100 families, peaking at 160 last fall. Eureka averages 50).

Having the Civic Center as a place where food could be stored, boxed, etc. could potentially increase the number of distribution times a month. It would also mean that someone with a sudden need for food assistance could call and get food, even if it wasn’t a set distribution day, without having to make a trip down to the Flathead.

Lauren also briefly spoke about the BackPack program, which North Valley Foodbank is assisting with, noting that the mobile pantry will be bringing the food up, and that the program is fully reimbursed by the state. She mentioned the possibility of continuing the program on into the summer months.

Maintenance Needs:

  • Repair of recent damage.
    (Upon further inspection, this appears to have been done by a raised vehicle. Yes, county vehicles parked nearby have been considered. Snow plows have not yet been examined).
    Ken Smith has volunteered to do the repairs.
  • Replacement of the current wood stove with a propane heater on hand.
    (This would substantially lower insurance costs, which are high due to the fire risk inherent in wood heating).
  • Hooking up a wonderful commercial propane stove that was donated.

Suggestions:

Later, talked turned to the future of the Civic Center, the need for fundraisers, and how to better serve the community. The consensus seemed to be that more events were needed, but that to make that happen, more volunteers would be needed as well.

Speaking of volunteers, that’s one way to earn membership. Like-kind service is acceptable instead of the membership fee; Otherwise, it’s a $25 fee per household.

Some suggestions for activities and fundraisers were:

  • Bringing back the Fireman’s Ball
    (this was mentioned at the TFS Fire Department Meeting as well)
  • T-shirts, mugs, and other little reminders of the Civic Center
  • Public Educational Talks by community members.
  • Science Fair (open to all kids, both public and home-schooled)
  • Community Potlucks.

Community

Trego School-More About the Building

Since the state was kind enough to go through every K12 school in the state (back in 2008) and evaluate the condition of the buildings, there’s a fair bit of information to play with.

The general facts- as taken from the Facilities Condition Inventory.

BuildingYear Constructed (according to the state’s report)Deficiency RatioRenewal Cost (estimate as of 2008)
Trego School (the school building proper, including the portable classrooms on the East end)196730.1%$594,743
Teacherage19675.1%$7,152
Bus Equipment Shed19601.8%$104
Fuel Storage Unit19601.8%$104
While it might seem a bit odd that the last two are exactly the same- since the complaint (paint peeling) was identical, the identical deficiency ratios and renewal costs make some sense.

Evidently, then, the problem was (and given the comparatively low costs of the other repairs, surely still is) the school itself, with a deficiency ratio of 30.1%. With the report estimating the total cost of repairs of the school building at $594,743, the school board will have to prioritize the necessary repairs (surely some of them have been addressed since 2008).

Many of the complaints in the report were reasonably straight forward; Windows should be double paned rather than single and window frames should have thermal breaks. Simple, though the renewal cost is quite spendy ($86,107 in total for windows). Another big ticket item is the two “portable” classrooms on the east side of the school. The report observed “Floor sagging or showing other similar such failure”, and estimated $88,058 to renew.

While the school board did pass a permissive levy which will amount to around $25,500, that’s not going to be sufficient for some of the costlier repairs the school is going to need. With the budget tight (enrollment has gone up, but the funding received from the state is based on a three year average), the school board is going to have to prioritize spending very carefully.

Community, Wildlife

My Goose Neighbors Are Back

First, Gander came by to check.  He and Goose are beginning their 7th year nesting on the island in the pond.  It’s a good spot for a goose nest because the water surrounding the island protects it from the coyotes and egg-raiders while the tall grass of the island makes great aerial camouflage for the nest.  He wasn’t happy, because there is still ice in the pond, and it seems that you really do have to be the first nesting goose to validate your claim.  He brought Goose along the second day – over the past seven years she has became a bit frail – so it is good to see them back again.

Living in the flyway, I became accustomed to huge flocks of migrating geese – probably an appropriate way for a demographer to view a species.  Here, I watch a pair of geese, and their offspring, through the season.  Frankly, there are some lessons in morality and responsibility to be learned from my goose neighbors.

Gander does the first recon alone anymore.  When they were young adults – call it the newlywed stage – they were inseparable, and hard to tell apart.  Gander has continued to grow, and is now an average size lesser-Canadian, Goose shows her frailty, and he works at minimizing her risks and exposure.

Courting Geese- one of the goslings and a visitor

With the nest unavailable, the two are hanging out in the Salina Wild Rye – good cover, close to the nest site, and, as soon as the ice melts, Goose will be back on her nest, hatching out another group of goslings.  Her first year, she led the flock on a hike around the pond, straight through the grass into an eagle that was dining on a road-kill cat.  Since 2015, Gander has taken responsibility for leading all the land trips.  That first year, as two eagles flew over the nest, Gander took to the air to divert them, then flew over me low, and made a couple circles as the eagles flew on away from Goose.  The next Spring, he decided to use me as part of his threat to a larger pair of geese that wanted the nest site.

I’ve watched the Fall departure delayed and delayed for a gosling who could almost fly – working at getting four or five feet above the ground for 100 yard flights, but unable to soar like her siblings.  My floating dock is taken over early in the flight lessons to teach water landings before the goslings can fly.  I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn from geese this year.

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Community

An Obit that Brought Good Memories

I knew I would one day read Freddie’s obit.  Few are granted long-term cancer survival.  Each of us went on with our own lives after high school – but I remember Jay Penney dragging me to a restaurant in Kalispell.  Jay was one of those half-generation older friends and coworkers who help you grow into a capable adult.  That day, because he was the type of man who shared friends, he had decided that Freddie and I needed to meet.  She knew our introduction was coming, and briefly kept a straight face – finally explaining to him that we had known each other from grade school as she poured coffee.  I’ve known two tremendously competent women who earned their livings as waitresses – and Freddie’s obit brought back good memories of Flo as well.

I don’t know how she convinced me that it was a good idea to head up Deep Creek to observe a beaver dam baptism.  I do  know that when our surreptitious observation failed, she was in the center seat of the pickup, encouraging more speed as I drove away.  My junior year, I think.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We met at Trego grade school.  Christened Fredricka Louise Osler, she referred to her formal name as “Freddie and contraption.”  I’ve always felt that, had Bobby enlisted her help instead of grabbing the jump rope and running, we would have succeeded in capturing the bear cub and moving it into the kitchen.  Probably just as well we failed.

I recall that Freddie was walking along the highway with Alvin Rongholt when he was hit by a vehicle and died.  My memory of Alvin is of a kid who showed me his parody of “The Ballad of the Green Berets” that morning, who left only an out-of-focus photo in the school yearbook.  I guess he also left me an appreciation for parodies of Sergeant Sadler’s song, and a wish that people’s lives be remembered.

Obituaries that bring good memories are rare.  Thanks for the memories.

Community

Damage to the Civic Center

This newest hole isn’t the only damage to the entry- that post alongside the ramp is pretty twisted as well. It’s a common place to back vehicles up to when events are happening, and that puts the entrance at risk of damage.

Trego’s Civic Center is due some expensive repairs- with insurance premiums already high, filing a claim with the civic center’s insurance may cost more in the long run. Since the damage appears to be associated with backing up towards the hall (odd, since there were no events held at the hall near the time the damage occurred), the Civic Center is considering how to keep this type of damage from happening again.

The hole appears deceptively small!
May be an image of text that says 'TREGOCIVIC TREGO CENTER TICKETS $5.00 EACH OR 5 FOR $20.00 SAVAGE AXIS 6.5 CREEDMOOR WITH WEAVER SCOPE OR FLANNEL RAGGED EDGE AMERICAN FLAG QUILT OTHER PRIZES AVAILABLE BY DRAWING DATE OF MID MAY 2021 DONATIONS BENEFIT UPGRADES OF THE TREGO CIVIC CENTER TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM ANY BOARD MEMBER AND SEVERAL LOCAL BUSINESS'S'

How can we help? Buy Raffle Tickets. The Civic Center is still selling raffle tickets for the upcoming drawing. Win an American Flag Quilt or a Firearm (see picture).

Rent the Civic Center. The Civic Center is allowed to open for events once again. On a related note, Bingo should be resuming soon -keep checking the Civic Center’s Board.

If anyone has any extra sonotubes for pouring concrete, the Civic Center can use them!

Community

Trego School Ice Fishing Trip

Last week, students and their families made their way to Murphy Lake for an Ice Fishing trip. It was a warm, pleasant day with chili dogs grilled beside the lake. A successful trip, since all but one student caught fish.

Where are the kids now? Spring break runs throughout the rest of this week. Classes will resume on the 15th and we can expect to see the buses back on their usual routes.

Adults planning similar trips should remember that Fishing Licenses expired February 28th- be sure to get a new one.

More information about school field trips can be found on the school calendar.

Photos by School Board Member Michelle Linden

Community

Trego School -Why have a building reserve fund?

As we wrote about earlier this year, the school board had decided to use a permissive levy to establish a building reserve fund. One of the requirements of the permissive levy is that “The projects must be listed and the priority for projects are listed on the Facility Condition Report under their deficiency categories. Those need addressed first.”

Not a fan of permissive levies? The school board election is coming up in May.

To find out what that means, we have to go to the Facility Condition Report. Back in 2008 the state of Montana arranged for every k12 building in the state to be inspected and its condition reported on. While these reports are theoretically public information, and publicly available, chasing down anything the government did over a decade ago is a bit of a challenge. A few government agencies and several emails later, I obtained copies of the original reports.

Looking at the 2008 report makes the need for a building reserve fund obvious. The school building proper has a deficiency ratio of 30.1%. The statewide report considered buildings with deficiency ratios greater than 20% to be in poor condition, and those greater than 50% to be in such bad shape that replacement might actually be preferable to repair.

The classrooms on the right side of the school entrance were originally portable classrooms and rest atop a “walkout” basement.

While some of the items in the report are minor- things that need paint or other simple repairs, not everything is that straight forward. The report describes the stair treads/risers as 100% deficient, stating that “Stair flight is settling or the under-structure physically failing”. On the same page, another description remarked that “Floor strength integrity of portable structures is questionable”. Trego School was constructed in response to the large flood of people associated with the tunnel, and included several portable classrooms, two of which remain in use today.

The roof system also included a 100% deficiency rating; “Condition observed: History of leaks; seams separating, punctured, or lifting at edges”. The estimated cost to repair, back in 2008? $29,365.

The school board will be meeting Wednesday, March 10th, at 4PM. The meeting can be attended long-distance. The Agenda (available in the post office) includes the building reserve. Those interested in attending can do so via the Gotomeeting App.

Want to see the school facilities condition inventory for yourself? I’d be happy to share what I received from the state- otherwise, Richard Knatterud (rknatterud@mt.gov) of the department of commerce was the person who provided me with copies.

A Science for Everyone, Meteorology

Snow Pack on March 1

The long-term average for snow surveys were dated for the first of the month when I started measuring snow 45 years ago.  The old guys did it the hard way – up Burma Road early, skis or snowshoes to the Weasel Cabin, build a fire, sample the snow course, then overnight.  The next day they would head down the creek, then climb Stahl, build a fire, sample the snow course, then hike out the next morning, sample the course at Grave Creek, hike the rest of the way out and finish the job driving the pickup out.  As a modern, I drove a snowmobile and did 3 snow courses in a day.  Now I click a link on the home computer, and can look at the whole basin’s information in minutes.

The numbers from March 1 were kind of sacred – there had been enough winter that Jay Penney felt safe projecting the data – enough was in that he would comment that the snowpack was light, normal or heavy.

These are some of the snow courses I measured in those middle days, when we thought a snowmobile was absolutely modern, and were experimenting with measuring snow water at Noisy Basin with a radioactive source and receiver.  We were state of the art back then.     

ElevationWater EquivalentPercent of Average
Banfield Mountain5600 feet13.1 inches88%
Hawkins Lake6450 feet18.9 inches94%
Garver Creek4250 feet8.4 inches101%
Stahl Peak6030 feet24.4 inches86%
Grave Creek4300 feet13.1 inches87%
Poorman Creek5100 feet29.4 inches95%
Bear Mountain5400 feet45.6 inches87%
Hand Creek5035 feet9.2 inches102%
Noisy Basin6040 feet31.5 inches106%
To get to the data – and the map – you just click https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow/ . Making the data so available makes hydrology a science for everyone.