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Listening Sessions garner feedback from residents

Area residents discussed opportunities and challenges in Broadwater County at several “Listening Sessions” last week.

The sessions hosted by the Broadwater County Development Corporation (BCDC) included a stop Wednesday afternoon in the “Wheatland” area at Headwaters Livestock Auction in Three Forks. Among the top concerns of residents and business owners in attendance were water, wastewater, and emergency services.

According to MSU Broadwater County Extension Agent Allison Kosto, a listening session is a facilitated discussion to help better understand the opportunities and challenges in the county.

Kosto told the residents in attendance the BCDC is putting together a community review called “Building a Better Broadwater .”She said the current community assessment was completed in 2004 and is fairly old, and they wanted to get out into the southern part of the county to evaluate the priorities of residents.

Kosto said information gathered from the listening sessions and survey would be funneled into a report to set priorities for future community projects.

Session Facilitator Craig Erickson, a Senior Funding Specialist at Great West Engineering, stressed the importance of the listening session exercise, adding it would be hard to get funding for future projects without the community review.

During Wednesday’s session, residents were asked to answer three questions, the first being what they do not want to see in the county over the next five years. Answers included residents not wanting to see too fast of growth, losing access to rivers and BLM lands and overdevelopment of the area.

When asked what they would like to see in Broadwater County over the next five years, a consensus was for centralized water and wastewater. Residents and business owners in attendance also said they would like to capitalize on the growth in the area.

Emergency services and response time were also a massive concern for those in attendance. Traffic control, road infrastructure, and streamlining of county processes were also listed as things people would like to see over the next five years.

As a final question, residents were asked by Erickson what it is that makes them want to live in Broadwater County. Answers included the small-town lifestyle of Montana, the outdoors and sportsmen lifestyle, views, and a centralized location close to places like Helena, Bozeman, and Butte.

The community review is made possible through the collaboration between BCDC, Montana State University Extension in Broadwater County, the Montana Economic Development Association, the University of Idaho Extension, and Montana Business Assistance Connection.