The Appearance of a Major Shift in Gardiner

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 12:53:08 03/07/21

In researching a different topic, I wandered by the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce website. I had some familiarity with that organization back in the 2000/2001 timeframe, when I lived in Gardiner, and my wife, Cathy Millis, was one of the Chamber's officers. She was either the Secretary or the Treasurer. I can't remember which at this point.

My recent peek at their board of directors revealed that their has been a fundamental shift in the makeup of the leadership team. When Cathy was on the board, most of the members were conservative, ultra-pro business long time Gardiner residents. Those were fractious times. Wolf reintroduction had just happened in 1995/1996, and the issue had the gateway towns divided on the topic, as well as other issues, like whether to introduce the local option sales tax as authorized by the state legislature and pro-growth/anti-growth subjects.

Here is today's Gardiner, but first, let me start at the Park County level. Super conservative former County Extension Agent and former county commissioner Marty Malone was beaten in his attempt to gain a third consecutive term as commissioner, in 2016, by Bill Berg, former YPSS employee and founder/operator of the Cool Works website, which provides intel to people the world over on employment opportunities in national parks and other "cool" places.

Now, on to the Gardiner Chamber Board of Directors: I know several of these people, one of them very well. They almost all, and possibly all, have strong Yellowstone National Park backgrounds. There may be some diversity, in terms of political persuasion or socio-economic leaning, but the commonality that they have all spent a LOT of time in Yellowstone National Park, in one role or another, means that they know which side Gardiner's bread is buttered on. They appreciate the value that resource protection brings to the table. I do not think we are likely to see some of these folks side with a crackpot like Bob Beatty on the subject of his wanting to put a gold dredge in the Yellowstone River (like he wanted to back in the early 2000's) or the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT) wanting to do geothermal drilling, and risk damaging the heat source beneath Yellowstone National Park (which they were contemplating back in the 1980s/1990s).

I am going to post a link to the web page that showcases the Gardiner Chamber's leadership. If you have much of a connection to Gardiner, you may recognize some of these names. Even if you do not, you will see, with a casual reading of their bios, that these people are likely to embrace a reasoned approach to issues that emerge, that might pit the interest of Gardiner versus the interest of Yellowstone National Park. As a former citizen of Gardiner and a former National Park Service employee in Yellowstone National Park, I see both sides of many issues that surface. I am thrilled that the Gardiner Chamber Board is populated with people that are likely to have a similar perspective.

Two other quick things: One is I read the Gardiner newsletter weekly as it is published by the Gardiner Chamber. I continue to be amazed at all the impressive work being done by the Electric Peak Arts Council, which brings all sorts of creative talent to Gardiner, and sponsors an array of cultural events. It was an embryonic organization when I lived in Gardiner. It is so much more these days!

The Park County Community Foundation is doing impressive things. If anyone is curious, you can Google their website. Check out their leadership's credentials. Quite a few retired and semi-retired "imports" from elsewhere, but their commonality is a shared love of this corner of Montana.

OK, I had to add one more item: The local option sales tax in Gardiner is producing significant community benefits, much like the one in West Yellowstone did for that community.


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