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Looking Back: Cost of land leases cause 'battle of the dollar'

| June 5, 2024 1:00 AM

A look back at past Pilot articles by Julie Engler

50 Years Ago

June 6, 1974

Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Smith became the new owners of the Sears Catalog Store in Whitefish. The Smiths lived in Whitefish for a year after moving from Bryan, Texas. “We hope we can provide the service people expect from Sears and we'll do our best,” said Smith. “Maybe we'll do even a little better. Taking care of customers is our aim.” The new owners took over from former owners, Bill and Marie Sandstrom. A grand opening was planned with specials, giveaways, prize drawings, coffee and cookies.

40 Years Ago

June 7, 1984

In 1976 John Morris exchanged his role of Whitefish High School principal for that of assistant superintendent. In 1984, he would reverse direction and take charge of the high school again. The Board of Trustees selected Morris to fill the vacancy at the high school after a four-hour meeting. After talking with the administrators and discussing the situation at length, the board voted 4-1 to transfer Morris. Morris said that he was really looking forward to running the high school. “My strong suit and main interest is working with teachers and the programs,” Morris said. “An administrator has to be flexible to go where the need is. The high school has the best physical plant in the country. a good staff and the public supports the high school financially and morally.”

30 Years Ago

June 2, 1994

The city council discussed the purchase of more than three blocks of Burlington Northern property north of Railway Street with the hopes the site would be used as a new community center. The council would consider taking Burlington Northern up on their original offer of $262,000 for the land with the condition Burlington Northern pave three blocks of a new street between Railway and the depot, landscape much of the area, and create two new parking lots. A new library, theater, parks, ball fields and possibly a swimming pool may be built on the land. The city would purchase the property and provide the infrastructure but private groups would be called on to raise most of the money to fund the projects, according to Whitefish City Manager Dale Ennor.

20 Years Ago

June 3, 2004

Dramatic increases in state trust land leases threatened to force local residents, many of whom had maintained lots for several decades, off the land unless they could pay additional funds. The typical lease increased from $712 to $5,405 annually, though the final increase would be phased in over five years. “Locals can't compete against big out-of-state dollars. It's the battle of the dollar,” lamented June Munski-Feenan, volunteer director of the North Valley Food Bank. Though she leased her site of Beaver Lake for many years, the increasing cost may drive her and her neighbors off the lake.

10 Years Ago

June 4, 2014

The City of Whitefish's proposed budget included an increase in spending of about $4.8 million to bring the total budget to $41 million. No increase in taxes was anticipated in the fiscal year 2015 budget. The budget called for giving most city employees a 3.8% pay raise. A new position of human resource director could be added to city staff, and an engineering technician position could be bumped from part- to full-time.