In honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15th) and Police Week, the East Helena Police Department has lit City Hall blue. Police Week is an observance that pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty.

 

EAST HELENA HIGH SCHOOL GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY
MONDAY, MAR 18, 2019 ~ Photo courtesy Heather Lay

CLICK ON THE MAP TO VIEW FULL SCREEN

This map shows where the newly built Prickly Pear Elementary School is located in relation to the new high school and 319-unit residential subdivision. All three of these projects are lined up facing Montana Ave. / Valley Drive although it is somewhat hard to tell from the map.

East Helena High School to Open in 2020:
Acquisition of 35 acres at Dartman Field has allowed the EHPS to proceed with construction of the first-ever East Helena High School. It will be built near the newly opened Prickly Pear Elementary School, which is located on a 50-acre Dartman Field parcel that the Custodial Trust donated to the EHPS in 2016.

Planned 319-Unit, Single-Family Residential Subdivision:
The immediate proximity of the planned East Helena High School and the new Prickly Pear Elementary School helped motivate Gary Oakland to buy 100 acres at Dartman Field for development of the 319-home, single-family Highland Meadows Subdivision.

Make your voice heard in East Helena!

St. Peter’s Health Lifts Visitor Restrictions

As of April 16 at 12:00pm St. Peter’s Health has lifted visitation restrictions due to a decrease in the number of positive influenza cases in the community and across the state. The number of confirmed cases at St. Peter’s Health has fallen significantly over recent weeks. The visitation restrictions were put in place in January in response to heightened flu activity. So far this season, the St. Peter’s Health laboratory has confirmed over 900 cases of influenza.

Although there has been a decrease in influenza activity, the virus is still present in the community. St. Peter’s Health asks that people experiencing flu-like symptoms refrain from visiting the Regional Medical Center unless they are seeking care, and reminds the community to always practice proper hand hygiene to prevent the spread of illness.

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), there have been 12,727 cases, 737 hospitalizations and 19 deaths attributed to influenza this flu season.

St. Peter’s Health
St. Peter’s Health is a system of health care services including a 99-bed acute care hospital, physician clinics, cancer treatment center, 24-bed behavioral health unit, urgent care clinics, home health and hospice care, dialysis center and ambulance services. St. Peter’s Health serves the Helena region and southwest Montana counties of Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Meagher and Powell, with a combined population of approximately 97,000 residents. The mission of St. Peter’s Health is to partner with patients and the community to provide exceptional and compassionate health care. For more information, visit sphealth.org

This is the final image in the series for the photo-essay: 
Prickly Pear Elementary Construction
started on June 1, 2017

Montana Environmental Trust Group’s Creek Relocation Project Wins 2019 Engineering Excellence Award

EAST HELENA, MT – Montana Environmental Trust Group LLC, Trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, and its contractor Pioneer Technical Services received a 2019 American Council of Engineering Companies of Montana Engineering Excellence Award for the Prickly Pear Creek realignment in East Helena.

Montana Environmental Trust Group’s (METG) Prickly Pear Creek relocation project won the 2019 Environmental Category Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Montana. METG teamed with Pioneer Technical Services to realign more than a mile of Prickly Pear Creek in order to reduce water contact with soil contaminants and their potential migration.

The project protects human health and the environment permanently by reducing groundwater contamination and isolating the eroding slag pile on the East Helena site without need for future pumping or maintenance. The work has established a natural-functioning stream, created an enhanced habitat for fish and wildlife, and mitigated flooding for flood-prone areas of East Helena.

METG is the court-appointed trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, which was established in 2009 as part of the Asarco bankruptcy settlement. METG is responsible for owning, remediating and redeveloping thousands of acres once owned by Asarco. For eight years, METG has worked to address contamination in soils, sediments and groundwater left behind by more than a century of lead smelting.

The Prickly Pear Creek realignment is a cornerstone of METG’s remediation and restoration efforts in East Helena. The creek realignment was completed in four main phases of work. First, a bypass channel was created to temporarily divert the creek flow. The next phase included drainage and excavation of the creek, followed by reconstruction of the new creek bed and building an earth berm to stabilize the nearby eroding slag pile. Prickly Pear Creek flow was then diverted to the new creek bed. Lastly, the wetlands were reconstructed and the bypass channel was reclaimed.

METG’s Prickly Pear Creek project and other winners of the ACEC-Montana 2019 Engineering Excellence Awards were honored at the Montana Engineering Honors Banquet held in conjunction with the Joint Engineers Conference on Nov. 7, 2018.

For more information, photos, and videos, visit the METG website at www.mtenvironmentaltrust.org

This video filmed during the summer of 2018 showcases some of the transformative cleanup measures implemented at the former Asarco smelter in East Helena, Montana.

Established in 2009 as part of the Asarco bankruptcy settlement, the Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG), Trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, is responsible for owning, remediating and redeveloping thousands of acres of East Helena land once owned by Asarco. For the last eight years, METG has worked to address contamination in soils, sediments and groundwater left after more than a century of lead smelting. Major components of the cleanup include the construction of a sustainable, 85-acre cap to prevent contact with contaminated soils and reduce the migration of contaminants into groundwater, as well as the removal of select contaminant source areas. The cornerstone of METG’s remediation and restoration efforts is the realignment of more than a mile of Prickly Pear Creek, which has already reduced contaminant infiltration into groundwater, created enhanced habitat for fish and wildlife and mitigated flooding for flood-prone areas of East Helena.

In close collaboration with the City of East Helena, EPA and the State of Montana and through several public-private partnerships, METG has been working to redevelop the former Asarco lands. METG supported expansion of American Chemet, a global supplier of metal-based chemicals and the largest employer in East Helena. METG also partnered with the East Helena Public Schools to site and build the Prickly Pear Elementary School. Most recently, METG sold 250 acres of property to a Montana-based company for a mixed-use development. METG is currently working with a regional developer seeking to develop 100 acres of property for a single-family residential development and the East Helena Public Schools for construction of a new high school. Finally, METG is working with a community land trust on implementing a trail system along Prickly Pear Creek.

For more information, photos, and videos, visit the METG website at www.mtenvironmentaltrust.org

Please remember that vehicles must be parked parallel with the edge of the roadway headed in the direction of traffic.
No angle or straight in parking is permitted without City Council approval and designated angle parking signage. Double parking is not allowed.

Click this link to read related “Method of Parking” City Code.

Please click this link to view the East Helena website “Public Notices” page for upcoming Public Meetings on changes to existing City Code or call City Hall at 227-5321 for more information.

J4 Automotive Update for 2018

Kit and Vi Johnson started J4 Automotive over 22 years ago in 1994 with an SBA loan, some help from family members and a lot of prayers. Fast forward to today and we find the shop doing close to 1 million dollars in gross sales and still family owned and operated. The second generation of Johnson’s are now working in the business, with Kit and Vi’s daughter Nikita and her husband Chris carrying on the strong tradition of outstanding automotive repair and service and giving back to our community. The third generation of Johnson’s (the grand kids shown sitting with Viola) are growing up in the shop just like their mothers did and will most likely continue the family tradition well into the future.

J4 Automotive’s mission statement stresses community service, which they do a lot of. The yellow veterans ribbons, the kids activity tent in the Christmas stroll, sponsor of the spring school clean-up, the Halloween movie in the park and Frite-night are but some of the events Kit and Vi and the J4 Crew organize and participate in. Their experienced staff of seven, including three Master Mechanics, fix all makes and models of vehicles and are the recipient of many awards. The National Technician of the Year, and the Helena Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year are just a few examples of their commitment to excellence.

J4 Automotive is a Better Business Bureau A+ rated member, AAA Top Shop and NAPA AutoCare center that enjoys a 5 star Google and Yelp rating. Give them a call next time you need advice or maintenance and repair on your vehicle and use their convenient pick-up service while you work! 227-8622 or make an appointment on line at j4 Automotive.com.

Sales of my artwork and art books on the ETSY Art/Craft website 
help support Prickly Pear Junction “CLOUD”.
Click on a book cover to see it on ETSY!

Click on this cover to view my book: “Step by Step: How to Cover Bottles With Fine Macramé” on my ETSY Store.

Click on this cover to view my book: “Step By Step: How To Make a Macramé Lamp ” on my ETSY store!

Click on this cover to view my book: “Macrame: String Theory” on my ETSY store!

METG ~ East Helena

The following photo essay is a record of the two year project to reconstruct the Prickly Pear Creek floodplain to reduce the contact of groundwater with contaminated soil.

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2016 ~ Work begins

Slide #1

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2016 ~ Work begins

Slide #2

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2016 ~ Work begins

Slide #3

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2016 ~ Work begins

Slide #4

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Wetlands in reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #5

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #6

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Wetlands in reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #7

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Wetlands in reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #8

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Slag pile with wetlands on the right

Slide #9

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Wetlands in reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – former Lower Lake area

Slide #10

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section

Slide #11

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Inlet structure for the reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek

Slide #12

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – south section

Slide #13

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Inlet structure for the reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek

Slide #14

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Inlet structure for the reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek

Slide #15

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Berm to bypass channel – allows water to enter the bypass channel in high flow events – protects newly planted vegetation

Slide #16

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Oxbow bend in the reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #17

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain

Slide #18

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section, shot from slag pile

Slide #19

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section, shot from slag pile

Slide #20

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section, shot from slag pile

Slide #21

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section, shot from slag pile

Slide #22

METG ~ East Helena

Summer 2017
Reconstructed Prickly Pear Creek floodplain – north section, shot from slag pile

Slide #23

HIGH PLAINS SHEEPSKIN

Twenty three years ago I bought a building on Main Street in downtown East Helena for a practical reason: it was the closest commercial building to my house that I could afford. I had in mind to change the nature of my business from retail to mail-order and do away with most of the products I produced before and concentrate on making sheepskin footwear, slippers to be exact. It turned out to be a great decision because of something that I didn’t expect initially. What I didn’t know then was that East Helena is a truly great place to have a business.  I sure know it now, and it keeps getting reinforced. Downtown may only be a couple of blocks long but it has filled up with experienced businesses in for the long haul.  Most buildings have been upgraded and there are still a few vacancies offering opportunities for people with the next good idea.  There are several reasons that East Helena works out so well for an independent business. The business space is reasonably priced and still an easy distance from the population of the whole Helena area.

Access to banks, post office, and city services are a few things that are just down the street. The primary element that makes for a good location is intangible but East Helena has it in abundance: great neighbors – both in the business community and residents of the town. I could start listing the great neighbors, but I don’t want to play favorites or omit anyone. However I will single out one East Helena institution for special mention. We are a mail-order business and we ship out over two thousand packages a year. The East Helena Post Office is a local partner that we could hardly do without.   Don,  Dorrie, Staci and now Terry really go out of their way to streamline the process and get our goods into the postal stream as effortlessly as possible. I owe those folks a big thank you. HIGH PLAINS SHEEPSKIN was started in the cold, windy basins of southern Wyoming (hence the “HIGH PLAINS”) in 1975. My first shop was in Laramie, Wyoming. After 9 years there, we moved to Last Chance Gulch in Helena, Montana. In 1993 we moved a few miles down the road to our current location at 5 West Main in East Helena.  We are across the street from Dave and Annie’s Main Street Eats and Dr Aichlmayr’s Rocky Mountain Dental Clinic, we are next door to Stacks. This is our factory, warehouse, shipping center and retail outlet all rolled into one. Prior to starting High Plains, I had several years of experience in the tanning and industrial sheepskin business. In the tannery I worked as a sheepskin finisher and grader. As an apprentice under an old school Czech craftsman, I made sheepskin paint rollers, industrial applicators and saddle pads. This has always been a small business. Right now I work with Zach who hired on a few years ago; he is getting the hang of this work real fast. The two of us work all year to make the thousands of slippers, hats and mittens that we ship to all 50 states, Canada and overseas.

Great Northern Carousel Helena, Montana, Photos: David George Hill http://davidhill.tv

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“KNOWN BUT TO GOD” The four graves in the East Helena Cemetery were marked with a brass star and four small plaques identifying those buried there only as “Unknown Soldier.” But this is now changed – in part because of misguided acts of some vandals. The East Helena VFW Post had a monument made in their honor which now marks the soldiers’ final resting place. The soldiers will no longer be buried in near obscurity, but they will remain a mystery. The star is marked with GAR and they could have fought in the Civil War or in the West’s Indian wars. The cemetery’s records do not go past beyond the 1920’s. So on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1996 a very impressive “Unknown Soldier Dedication” was held to honor these veterans.”