2022 was another excellent year for the Headwaters Trail System.
In his yearly report to the Three Forks Council, Headwaters Trail System Director Gene Townsend highlighted the work completed from a $54,000 Montana Trail Stewardship Grant (TSP) and plans for later this year.
In early 2022, Townsend applied for two grants and, in May, was informed the Trails System received the TSP grant. He said the TSP is a newer program that has raised a considerable amount of money from license plate renewals, adding each grant recipient around the state was fully funded.
Townsend began working with an engineer in June to get the bid ready to go out in August. He also detailed a lot of work going into getting permits and easements that would eventually complete the Trail System from the Drouillard Fishing Access Site to Headwaters State Park.
Townsend said work on two miles of trail Maintenance from 7th Avenue East out to the Madison was completed in October, and all that portion of the trail was crack-sealed and seal-coated. He added on the bad areas of the trail, where tree roots were coming up, they put in new asphalt and eliminated hazards. Work was also completed to crack seal and seal coat the parking lot at the ponds area.
“They really did a good job,” Townsend said.
Along with the trail maintenance, Townsend reported they installed a couple of benches purchased with an AARP grant they received two years ago. He added they also installed a couple of bike backs and will be installing eight signs this spring when the ground thaws out. Work this spring will also include painting crosswalks. An American Rails to Trails sign will also be installed later this year.
According to Townsend, the annual Headwaters Bank run numbers were down in 2022, but he thinks this will increase next year.
Townsend reported he and City Treasurer Kelly Smith put together some figures, and there have been around $1.4 million in grants awarded to the Headwaters Trail System in the last 25 years. He also thanked Magris Talc for their donations. He said through about four different administrations at the facility, they have also been a great partner in providing matches to grants received by the Trails System.
Townsend said while he gets a lot of money through grants, the people of Three Forks also donate a lot to the trails system.
When he started the system over two decades ago, Townsend said he was unsure if people would utilize them, but they have.
“People use them, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
In her annual report to the Three Forks City Council, Library Director Fawn Venzor highlighted some of the great things going on at the local facility.
Venzor reported that in the fiscal year that ended in June of 2022, 24,992 patrons came to the library.
Along with the fiscal year numbers, Venzor also provided information about some of the recent programs happening at the library. She said during the summer reading program, which took place from June through August, they gave out 3,441 tickets for every 20 minutes of reading, which accounted for over 1,400 hours.
Venzor said at the recent Three Forks Christmas Stroll they had 451 people come through the doors, and the annual gingerbread house contest had 40 entrants.
Venzor also highlighted the recent success of a Harry Potter event in October.
“We’re growing everywhere, and it’s a good thing. We appreciate all the city does for us,” she said.
While pleased with the numbers visiting the library, Venzor said the biggest hardship right now is they only get government funding from the City of Three Forks while patrons come in from five different counties. She discussed the possibility of starting a 501 3c to help generate grant money for the library.
Townsend said there is a town about the size of Three Forks sitting out in Broadwater County with around 800 houses and asked Venzor if they had considered forming a joint district similar to the fire district that would require an election.
Venzor said they had previously looked at the idea, but a lot of footwork would need to be done, adding they have started to charge $10 a year for out-of-county library cards.