I wanted to take some time and let you know some of the things I’ve been up to regarding my Legislative district from Huntley and Lockwood to the other end of my district to Briarwood. I wanted to give you an update on some things that affect you and other things that I’ve learned while visiting other locations that relate to our area.
But first, I want to thank all those who spend many hours, resources and time on behalf of the community to help make it a better place. There are those who spend many hours behind the scenes trying to make our communities a better place. I have been fortunate to associate myself with great people and citizens who care about their communities, schools and families and are willing to lend a helping hand from the county level down to the individual citizen. As I’ve walked and talked to folks, Lockwood has had some positive things going for it and I wanted to make you aware of it.
As I’ve been your State Representative the last 1 ½ years and attended the local monthly meetings; I’ve seen some positive changes and opportunities at our fingertips in the area. From positive campaigns focusing on the family to updated roads that help with traffic, take a moment and see what is being done. At times, it might seem slow but don’t forget that great things start by small and simple steps. For instance, I attended a meeting last year where after much discussion; it was expressed that maybe a Lockwood community center might be something that ALL districts, citizens and county officials might be willing to support.
About three months ago, I was asked to help put together an online community survey and get some more input from the community regarding a community center. I met with the committee regarding their questions and how we can hopefully best present the option to the community. We ended up with a 10 question online survey that was sent out to all the districts in which they sent out to their members to take. I was encouraged that we ended up with a total of 186 people that took the survey regarding a community center. We didn’t know if this is something the community would support but I was encouraged to see the feedback. All in all, Lockwood residents expressed an interest in a community center or something else but staying the same was not an option. The feedback to the online survey was appreciated so thank you.
Not sure if everyone is aware but Cal Cumin, Chairman of the Yellowstone County Park Board presented an opportunity to the Lockwood Steering committee of using Hillner Park as a place to build a possible community center. This is a step in the right direction for Lockwood as I see all residents in the Lockwood area being able to help in this endeavor. I see a great opportunity at this time for the Lockwood folks to come together in a cause to start to build their own future city. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to get Lockwood incorporated or have it become a city but there is so much that needs to be done before that idea could even be accomplished, but it’s by the small and simple things once again that add to the whole and a community center might be one opportunity to take advantage of at this time.
The reason I’m addressing this option is due to the recent trip I took to Gillette, Wyoming and toured the area. The city and infrastructure there took years for them to plan, build, and execute. Then the Black Thunder Coal Mine (which is the biggest coal mine in the world) opened and Gillette exploded with increased businesses, roads, schools, products, infrastructure and more. If it wasn’t for the small and simple things that Gillette accomplished beforehand, it wouldn’t have been as easy to expand when they really needed it.
As for Lockwood, if there is a need to start preparing for the future, it’s now! Someday, Lockwood will become its own city. It might be 10, 15 or 20 years down the road but if nothing is being done but maintaining status quo, then it will only be longer before a community center, High school, chain restaurants, More Hotels, Shopping centers, or Johnson lane crossing of the Yellowstone River will be completed. I encourage everyone at all levels, from County and State to the individual to get involved, attend meetings and contribute as your ability provides. I’m grateful to be able to help as I can and hope that others will also see the vision and future of Lockwood. I’d like to invite you to attend the Lockwood Steering Committee meetings and become involved in your community and be in the know. If there is anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to call me or email. My number is 406-672-5941.
Jonathan McNiven is a State Representative for the Montana House of Representatives in District 44.