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Checking in on the state of Big Sky



Town hall meeting scheduled for April 11

By Taylor Anderson, Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

How is the school doing and when will its new changes be implemented? What is the real name of Route 64 in Big Sky? What is the status of the $24 million Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center Big Sky applied for?

Big Sky community leaders will address residents during a town hall meeting in the Big Sky Chapel April 11 from 1–3 p.m.

School board chairman Loren Bough will represent the Big Sky School District, which recently changed its name from Ophir School District, addressing the crowd via video from Russia.

Bough will likely cover recent curriculum changes implemented at the behest of Superintendent Jerry House that increase graduation requirements from the current 22 credit minimum to 27–32 credits. House and a three-person committee also recommended the school district change its 99-year-old name from Ophir to Big Sky, for branding purposes.

It’s not clear whether Bough will address the issue of space and growth in the school. The board has spoken to the school’s likely future use of modules for classes, and board member Barbara Rowley has said permanent infrastructure isn’t yet needed and may not be for years. That issue will likely come up in future board meetings.

Gallatin County GIS representative Alan Armstrong will discuss the potential name change of Route 64 in Big Sky from Big Sky Spur Road to Lone Mountain Trail. A recent email poll showed residents prefer the entire road from the intersection at Highway 191 to Jack Creek Road be called Lone Mountain Trail, and that the town stick with a single name for clarity. Big Sky Town Center project manager Ryan Hamilton indicated that maps might need changing with a name change.

A group representing the push to win a bid for host of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center—led by Hamilton—will update attendees on the $24 million project. Big Sky is among a short list of towns in final consideration for that project.

Town Center master developer Bill Simkins set aside a parcel of land for that project’s development. An announcement is expected on April 30.

The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce board of directors will close out the meeting with an update on marketing projects the group has started. The first, a wayfinding, signage and monument effort—also organized by Hamilton—has been more than a year in the making. Town leaders have been working with the Montana Department of Transportation on branding signs that would organize the various villages in Big Sky through green circle, blue square and black diamond labeled street signs.

The Chamber will also highlight its five-year marketing plan that has emphasized incorporating Big Sky to Yellowstone National Park as well as summer marketing. A/D Creative Group, the Billings-based group contracted to market the town, will present its findings to those in attendance.

The group will close the meeting with an update on recent staff changes. It hired four new employees to supplement the work of Robin Brower-McBride. The hiring followed a Chamber study that showed it was “woefully underfunded in its human resources.”

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