Richland Economic Development (REC) Executive Director Leslie Messer was invited to be a member of the Coal Country Coalition (CCC), made up of 15 counties from central to eastern Montana.

“Because we have a small little coal mine in Savage, they wanted to have a representative of Richland County be included because of the effects of the closure of the Savage mine and how that’s going to domino through the community,” Messer said. She requested permission of REC to become a member.

There is no monetary requirement to be involved with CCC and it would mostly be a participatory basis for meetings with other coal communities who are facing or have faced facility closures.

“The most fascinating thing is to hear how these communities are adapting and how they are strategically looking at this vacant building and what they can do with it,” Messer said. “It’s fascinating to see how Colstrip is doing that and Musselshell County, Lewistown and all of those different areas. To hear them talk about what we are only on the precibus of is quite staggering.”

The board agreed it was a “no brainer” to join CCC. Messer said there may be grant dollars in the form of training dollars for former MDU employees that Richland County could benefit from.

“This is one way we can be plugged into opportunities to help our families and our economy,” Messer said.

The board approved Messer’s membership.

Sidney Young Professionals

Katie Dasinger, president of Sidney Young Professionals (SYP), reported to the REC board that Sidney was selected as the location of the 2021 Montana Young Professionals (MYP) Summit. The summit will be June 9 — 11, 2021. The theme will be “Exploring New Fields: Where Energy Meets Sustainability,” focusing on the area’s agriculture and oil field industries.

The summit will draw an estimated 100 people, as laid out in the bid submitted by SYP to MYP. Planning is still in the infancy stages, but potential activities included in the bid are a tour of OneOk, a trip to the Fairview bridge, golf at the country club and a tour of a feedlot. The summit will include breakout sessions like grant writing, fundraising, effective communication, marketing and mental health/stress management. There will also be keynote speakers, who will be announced further into planning stages.

“We are really, really, really excited,” Dasinger said. “Our first planning meeting will start this week.”

She said the group is prepared to fundraise and promote the event. SYP just returned from MYP Summit in Kalispell, where Dasinger said besides Billings and Kalispell, Sidney had the most people there, with eight young professionals attending. For 2020, Helena will host the summit.

“Sen. Tester was the wrap-up keynote speaker,” Dasinger said. “His message was continue to harness the Montana work ethic and don’t expect somebody else to solve your problems because you have every tool in your toolbox to do it if you work at it.”

SYP will host a back-to-school bash on Thursday, Aug. 8, from 6 — 8 p.m., at Pizza House.

“Sidney has something like 20 new teachers coming in,” Dasinger said. “We really wanted to approach that as well as our normal young professionals. It’s going to be a back to school networking event.”

In other news:

Tami Christensen from Sidney City Council told REC while Family Dollar has not applied for any building permits, they are still planning on adding a location in Sidney. For now, the new store is expected to be open in December of this year.

Shane Gorder from Richland County Commission said he will be representing Montana at the National Association of Counties in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Thirty-two new horse motel box stalls have been added at the fairgrounds and fair board is still working on long-range grounds improvement plan. The board will meet with commissioners on Aug. 7.

County commission was asked by Fairview City Council to help with the new ambulance barn, which is largely funded on donations. Commissioners agreed to fund the design of the new barn by Mike Stevenson, who also designed Fairview’s senior center and fire hall.

Campgrounds around town are currently full with pipeline crews. There are three major pipeline projects going on in the area.

Messer told REC the census for 2020 was of particular importance because Montana is on the brink of getting another House seat, which equates to $20,000 federally per head over the next 10 years coming to the state. Every single person counts, whether here transitionally, renting, homeowners or those with a criminal record. Messer said it is vital each person is counted. People can complete the census online or on the phone. If the census is not completed in that manner, a door-to-door survey will be available.

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