“It was a busy and productive year for the City of Hamilton,” states Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf at the beginning of his 2019 Mayor Report to the City Council. His report offers a month by month account of the City’s accomplishments which he attributes to the efforts made by the City Council, City Employees, County Officials, Community Partners, Hamilton Schools and, of course, himself. Some of the mayor’s highlights are as follows:
January 2019 Appointment of City Council President, Planning Board Representative and Zoning Commission Representative: At the January 2, 2019 City Council meeting, the City Council voted to appoint Councilor Travis Martinez as the Council President. As Council President, Councilor Martinez ran the Committee of the Whole meetings after setting the agenda. The Council President met weekly with the Mayor to discuss upcoming meeting agenda items. Their weekly meeting allowed for both to be more prepared for Committee and Council Meetings. Councilor Rod Pogachar was voted in as the Planning Board Representative. Councilor Joe Petrusaitis was voted in as the Zoning Commission Representative. They will attend those prospective meetings and report back to the City Council.
February/March 2019 Snowstorm: The large snowstorm began on Monday, February 25th. The snow accumulated very quickly and by early afternoon the mayor had declared a snow emergency and sent most City employees home before the roads became impassable. The Hamilton Police Department called in a little extra help due to call volume, accidents and to get notifications out for moving vehicles in the designated routes identified by the snow emergency. The Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department equipped their vehicles with chains and kept the access to the firetruck bays clear. They encouraged residents to keep their hydrants and gas meters cleared of snow. The City, County and School District consulted to consider and declare school closures. The City and County agreed to communicate throughout the storm. City street crews worked until 8:00 pm, plowing streets and emergency routes. The street crew returned to work at 4:00 am on Tuesday to resume plowing. The city reopened at noon on Tuesday, February 26th. In the following weeks, the street department had two or three workers from 4:00 am to 5:00 pm (60-hour weeks). They ran plows, snowblowers, dump trucks and a loader. They loaded and removed snow as best as they could, but the large volume of snow and the expansiveness of the City created quite a challenge. The City did not contract with private contractors, but some private property owners did. There were individuals, and groups who helped their neighbors remove snow. The Hamilton Christian Academy used one of their snow days as a service day to clear snow and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formed shovel crews to help City residents in need. Jerry Wessels Les Schwab Tires also dispatched a crew to help dig people out. Many youth groups and private individuals became better neighbors and helped each other get through the extreme winter weather by shoveling and digging out cars and fire hydrants. The snowstorm was certainly a challenge and the mayor believes that everyone did the best that they could under the circumstances… and we did eventually get through it all.
April 2019 Governor and First Lady Cooking Contest: Hamilton High School freshman, Sidney DeLong, hosted a cooking competition to bring awareness to childhood hunger in a simple and fun fashion. With the help of 20 classmates, DeLong hosted a cooking competition that showed how to create a healthy meal using simple ingredients. The teams used meat, vegetables and spices to create an affordable meal that would also provide several servings. Ravalli County Commissioner Jeff Burrows, the mayor and some Hamilton High School teachers helped the teams make the different dishes that were then judged by school officials.
May/June 2019 Fireworks Fundraising: The Hamilton community again rallied together to privately fund the Annual City of Hamilton 4th of July Fireworks Display. Through donations made by individuals and businesses, donations dropped in buckets placed at various locations, pint nights, the mayor’s dunk tank and Uncle Sam shenanigans and a contribution from the County all of the $12,000 needed to fund the fireworks show was raised.
June 2019 Police Bike Rodeo: The Hamilton Police Association put on their annual Bike Rodeo at Hamilton Middle School. Young cyclists learned safety tips, rules of the road and navigated an obstacle course. The Hamilton Fire Department grilled hot dogs for participants and their families. Prizes were awarded to all participants and the mayor ran the raffle ticket prizes. Easton Fryer was the grand prize winner. He won a Giant XTC24 bicycle from Valley Bikes.
July 2019 Hired City Planner: In July, Mathew Rohrbach was hired as the City Planner. Matthew has over a decade of experience in the community planning field. Before working for the City, Matthew was a community planner with a private planning firm where he worked with cities and counties throughout Montana on addressing issues surrounding land use, transportation, and economic development. Matthew has an undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Montana and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University. Matthew’s door is always open to discuss planning matters in Hamilton. His office is in the City Public Works building (920 New York Avenue) and he can be reached at [email protected] or (406) 363-6717.
July 2019 Grand Opening of the Justice Center: On July 1st the City held a ribbon cutting at the grand opening of the new Justice Center. Tours of the Justice Center were provided. The Justice Center houses the City Police Department, the City Court and the City Attorney. The City posthumously honored Ken Bell for his many contributions to the City as City Attorney and as a City Councilor. A shadow box in his honor was placed in the lobby of the Justice Center.
July 2019 Skate Park Grand Opening: On July 6th the City of Hamilton Skate Park had its Grand Opening celebration. After years of hard work, fundraising, finding a location and other details, Circle 13 saw its dreams of a skate park realized. This dream was made possible by a culmination of donors, volunteers, skaters and many community members who combined their resources and brought this incredible feature to the City’s Claudia Driscoll Park. The mayor, some City staff and some City councilors attended the grand opening.
August 2019 Dunk Tank: In August, the mayor operated his dunk tank to raise money for many non-profits at the Ravalli County Fair. With the help of volunteers and representatives of the organizations that benefitted, their efforts paid off. The non-profits featured were: S.A.F.E. of the Bitterroot, Rez-cue Dogs, Emma’s House, Linda Massa Youth Home, Ravalli County 4-H, Bitterroot Humane Association, Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department and Velocity Gymnastics.
September 2019 Agents of Discovery: In September, the mayor was joined by students of the Keystone After School Program and played The Agents of Discovery game on a downloadable mobile device app. They met at River Park and discovered the history of the Nez Perce on the National Historic Trail Mission. Agents of Discovery is a free app that features historic trail missions. In our area: River Park, Lake Como, St. Mary’s Mission and Travelers Rest have missions to complete.
October 2019 Trick or Treat: The mayor hosted trick-or-treat at City Hall on Halloween night. There was candy available for trick-or-treaters and City hall was open so people could use the public restrooms if necessary. The concept was popular (especially for parents with small children) and will continue in the future.
November 2019 Community Builders Visited Hamilton: Early in 2019 the City of Hamilton received a technical assistance grant from Community Builders to examine how the City can enhance the area around the Highway 93-Main Street intersection to be more welcoming and to better balance the needs of bikes, cars, and vehicles. Community Builders staff visited Hamilton in November for an initial site visit and to meet with community members to hear their concerns and ideas were for improving the Highway 93-Main Street intersection. Community Builders will be back in Hamilton February 3rd- 5th for a series of community design workshops to dive into some of the specifics of what improvements to this intersection might look like. Meeting dates and times will be posted on the project website www.connect93hamilton.com.
December 2019 Evergreen Kids Corner/Santa visits: In December, the students of Evergreen Kids Corner created decorations for the Christmas tree at The Justice Center. The students also met members of the Hamilton Police Department, who introduced themselves to the children and taught them that police officers are sworn to help citizens in need, including them. The mayor dressed as Santa Claus and visited a party for Child Bridge (a foster care program) and a party for Child Protective Services.
Newly elected council members Dan Mitchell, and Robin Pruitt were sworn in on Monday by Mayor Farrenkopf as Hamilton City Council members.
City Council meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. The Committee of the Whole meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. Meetings are held at City Hall 223 South 2nd Street in Hamilton. All meetings are open to the public.