Association seeks to bring fun, enthusiasm to Libby businesses

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The Libby Area Business Association has been re-formed for less than a year, yet since August the community organization that isn’t just for businesses has gotten a lot accomplished.

The organization had about 35 members at the end of April, even as they started a drive — kicked off ahead of schedule due to member enthusiasm — to add 30 more members in 30 days, said LABA President Gail Burger.

“People already started, so I’m like, ‘Whatever, we’ll just go with it,’” she said.

Membership is fairly unlimited, with even individuals who simply want to get involved in their community welcomed to join, Burger said.

In addition to the efforts they have already put forward to increase interest in Libby’s downtown by drawing people there with events and things such as the Christmas wreaths on Mineral Avenue, the association is working on two separate beautification projects around Libby.

Drivers on Highway 2 heading out of Libby toward Kalispell may have noticed the disappearance of bushes on the triangle separating roadways at Bowen Hill.

The association agreed to take on the project in April, and members set to work in cooperation with MDT to improve the appearance of the site.

That first project was meant as an opportunity for the association to start with something small and build, but within a day a call came in to Burger regarding the traffic island at the north end of Mineral Avenue where the Christmas tree lighting is held.

“It’s a wreck down there,” Burger said.

With members getting to work at Bowen Hill, Burger spoke with the City of Libby about the Mineral Avenue project.

“We have a lot of active members — whether they’re active ‘hands-on’ or they’re active with ideas,” Burger said. Some members may have the equipment and energy to dig in and get things moving, while others have the knowledge of what plants will work best or how to arrange things.

“One of our members is Allen Olson, and he owns Antler Tree Nursery, and so he’s been a really big help with consulting, and he’s hands-on,” Burger said.

Aside from making certain any additions stay within safety considerations, Burger said that the plan for the triangle is fairly simple.

“We want some color, so it’s pretty easy: plants and color, flowers,” she said. “Spruce it up in general.”

While the association wants to promote, improve and add fun to living in Libby generally, the project at the end of Mineral Avenue fits with one of their goals to make the downtown more attractive to local shoppers, Burger said.

“One of our goals is, we don’t take too long,” Burger said. “It either does or it doesn’t go.”

As far as the beautification projects are concerned though, everything is going.

And that’s not all the association is doing on Mineral Avenue.

In addition to plans to once again decorate the thoroughfare for Halloween and Christmas, the association will be reinvigorating the traditional Crazy Days event on Mineral Avenue in August.

“That’s a fun community event, and it’s something we want to bring back,” Burger said.

The city will still need to sign off on the temporary closing of a section of Mineral Avenue, but Crazy Days is planned for Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26.

The event will include participation by various organizations running fair-style game booths as fundraisers, Burger said. The association will only make a flat fee per booth, with any other money going to the organization running the booth.

“We do a lot of fun stuff,” Burger said.

The association is also doing a fundraiser to help pay for things such as decorating downtown, selling $5 tickets for a Thursday, June 21 drawing for a wheelbarrow overloaded with items contributed by members.

Even as members were making contributions, Burger estimated the value of the items at more than $500.

Tickets are available at various member businesses around Libby, including The Western News. The Wheelbarrow is currently at The Western News, and will be displayed at different member businesses until the June 21 drawing.

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