City Council considers witches, streets, ballfield plan

Debbie the Good Witch of the Northwest took her annual broom ride to the Dillon City Council Chambers last Wednesday, a night when the Council addressed a number of street issues.

Representing the Beaverhead Business Builders group she has long served as a leader of and spokesperson for, The Bookstore owner Debbie Sporich showed up at the Sept. 18 City Council meeting in a full witch’s outfit to urge the city to close portions of a pair of downtown streets on October 5 for the annual Oktoberfest Street Fair in downtown Dillon.

Sporich reported that this year’s Oktoberfest would include, among many other things, a pumpkin painting contest instead of a pumpkin carving contest.

“We really don’t want children wielding knifes on the streets downtown,” Sporich explained.

At the end of her presentation on the Oktoberfest street closures, Sporich, who has come before the Council previously on behalf of downtown events, asked, “Is there any further discussion or questions?” She then stopped, looked to Dillon Mayor Marty Malesich and exclaimed, “Oh, wait, you’re supposed to ask that.”

The Council responded with unanimous laughter at Sporich’s faux pas and with unanimous approval for the Oktberfest street closures, which include Idaho Street from Center to Glendale and Bannack Street from the alley at King’s to Montana Street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 5.

The Council also approved the other street closure request that came before it—Poindexter Street from Atlantic to Pacific, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on September 27. The request was made by the University of Montana Western Foundation for Friday’s dedication of the Emerick Art Studio. The Foundation’s request prevailed on a unanimous vote, though no one dressed as a warlock, werewolf or zombie came to lobby on its behalf.

The City Council also gave unanimous approval to keeping the street maintenance fee at $1.60 per linear foot instead of hiking it to $1.85 — an idea pushed by City Hall but rejected by the Council’s Street and Alley Committee earlier in the month.

The fee, which was doubled by the city in 2011 from 80 cents to its current rate, is collected every year from all city property owners to fund street maintenance projects and snow removal.

City Director of Operations J.S. Turner reported previously that this year’s street maintenance budget from the fee totals $316,082 and that over half of that will go to cover the approximately $188,000 payment due for last year’s Glendale Street renovation project.

With not enough money remaining to bankroll any more big projects, Turner said most of the rest of the street maintenance fee funds would go toward minor projects, like patching and alley improvements in the downtown area.

The Council was not unanimous in its views on the Final Plat of the McVeigh-Sorrels Minor Subdivision, which sits directly east of the Beaverhead High School parking lot on Thomsen. 

Councilperson Lynn Westad requested that the item be tabled so she and other Council members could have time to visit the site and gather information for a more informed vote. But her motion was voted down, 4-3, with that same vote going a few moments later for approval of the McVeigh-Sorrels Minor Subdivision Final Plat.

The Council also heard about plans from the Dillon Cubs to develop a new baseball field at Ray Lynch Park.