Char-Koosta News

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Ronan Boys & Girls Club is on the path of progress in more ways than one

By Adriana Fehrs

The location for the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County will change at some time after March 2015. The staff and Board of the club say that they are currently looking at different options, all of which will remain convenient to Ronan/Pablo residents. (Adriana Fehrs photo) The location for the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County will change at some time after March 2015. The staff and Board of the club say that they are currently looking at different options, all of which will remain convenient to Ronan/Pablo residents. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

RONAN — ‘A Road Runs Through It’ doesn’t have the same magic as Brad Pitt’s flyfishing movie, but it is the reality the Ronan Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County will face in 2015. The upcoming road developments on US highway 93 will cause the club to relocate their facilities, but the staff remains positive that the change could lead to a larger facility, with more services offered.

The Boys & Girls Club, located at 63055 US High 93, has been a part of the community for over fourteen years, where it has provided a safe place for children, ages six to fourteen, to learn, play, and grow. The club sees about 70 to 75 kids daily, and around 300 kids annually, of whom 72 percent are Native American. Aric Cooksley, the Chief Professional Officer and Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club, says “ our goal is, through mentoring, caring, tutoring, and loving our kids, to give them the tools to be successful individuals and active parts of their community, regardless of their background.”

For the past several months, new highway proposals have been discussed and bidding for the construction contracts have occurred of which involve building a highway through what is now the Boys & Girls Club. Aric Cooksley says, “Everyone on Main Street and First (Street) will be impacted by the new highway.”

From left to right: Aric Cooksley the Chief Professional Officer and Executive Director, Melissa Mock the Unit Director, and volunteer Shawanna Berthelote, stand in the main room of the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County. The Staff and Board of Directors are all hopeful the relocation of the club will end well – allowing for a larger facility with better accommodations. (Adriana Fehrs photo) From left to right: Aric Cooksley the Chief Professional Officer and Executive Director, Melissa Mock the Unit Director, and volunteer Shawanna Berthelote, stand in the main room of the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County. The Staff and Board of Directors are all hopeful the relocation of the club will end well – allowing for a larger facility with better accommodations. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Aric says, “At this point, we have the use of this facility at least until March 2015.” From there the club is planning on relocating to another location that will be convenient to the Ronan/Pablo residents.

The club has been looking at different options – either building a new facility, or using an existing structure, which may need to be remodeled in order to meet building standards. A new facility would be designed specifically for their services. Aric Cooksley says, “ we would like to own our next facility, but leasing is also being explored.”

Cost will also be a contributing factor in the move. Currently the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes leases the land to the Boys & Girls Club for $1 a year. Aric Cooksley says, “CSKT has been very generous to (The Boys & Girls Club) for leasing the land to us, which has allowed things to work here,” and “there are going to be expenses with the move, and we do not want to get into a bind where keeping operations are not feasible.” The club will receive some financial help from the Federal Relocation Program through the Montana Department of Transportation. The relocation program will assist with moving expenses, and will cover other costs of relocating to a new facility, such as paying for updates to the new facility. The club is also seeking funds through capitol campaigns, grants, or financing.

Despite the move, Aric Cooksley says the club is positive about the change. “Anytime there is change, there is some amount of uncertainty, but the board as a whole is confident they will find a suitable new facility,” and “the deadline makes him motivated to find a new place.”

The current location for the Boys & Girls Club is located at 63055 US High 93 in Ronan. The future road development will run through the club property, causing the facility to relocate at some point after March 2015. (Adriana Fehrs photo) The current location for the Boys & Girls Club is located at 63055 US High 93 in Ronan. The future road development will run through the club property, causing the facility to relocate at some point after March 2015. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

With a new facility, there can be an improvement in services, and a potential increase in membership. The club is positive that moving to a new place will help the club meet the needs of their members better. Currently the club has between six to eight programs during the school year: Smart Moves, Passport to Manhood, High Yield Learning, Character Building, Triple Play, and their after-school tutoring program where healthy snacks are provided; during the summer, between ten to twelve programs take field trips to Glacier National Park, provide swimming lessons, and other activities like horse camp. The club anticipates that a new, larger, facility will allow for more programs. Aric Cooksley says, “Our services and mission won’t be impacted negatively. They hopefully will be changing for the better with a new location.”

The club wants the community and club members to know that families should expect to be informed throughout the entire process of the move. Families will be notified when the actual move occurs. Aric Cooksley says, “Stay tuned to what is going on, and if there are options we haven’t explored, or if there are people who can help us with our options of moving, please feel free to come help us. We want to make sure we get the best location to serve the children at.”

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County visit their website at www.bgclynx.org. They can be contacted at (406) 676-5437, or email them at hope@ronan.net.

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