ROC leaders testify before legislature

HELENA, Mont. — Three resident-owned community leaders, their advisor, and their county’s director of public works testified before the Montana Legislature last week on behalf of the county’s grant request to connect Buena Vista Community’s 36 homes connected to the public sewer system.

“We have a failing sewer system,” Buena Vista board President Terry Huetter said. “Most of the people in our community are older and on a fixed income.”

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Huetter was testifying before the Legislature’s Joint Subcommittee on Long-Range Planning. Kaia Peterson, Assistant Director of Statewide Operations for NeighborWorks®Montana and Buena Vista’s ROC USA®-Certified Technical Assistance Provider, said Huetter and two other Buena Vista residents spoke in support of a $125,000 resource and redevelopment grant that would support the sewer connection project.

“Their project ranked 34th out of 105 applications,” Peterson said. “It is expected that the top 50 projects will be funded out of the existing RRGL funding pool and the remaining projects are under consideration for funding from a state infrastructure bond that the governor has proposed.”

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Board Vice President Charlie Schneider echoed Huetter’s concern over his neighbors’ income situation.

“I’d like to see this upgrade come into play to help out lower- and fixed-income people,” said Schneider, who has lived in Buena Vista for more than 30 years and handles much of the community property landscaping in the ROC (resident-owned community).

Peterson said all four felt good about making the two-hour drive from Missoula. She said some had to take a day off from work to testify, and she was particularly pleased with the testimony of Greg Robertson, the director of Public Works for Missoula County, who pointed out that Buena Vista is his neighbor and has been a strong partner.

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“It’s been a very good time, they are genuine people and it’s been a real pleasure to work with them,” he testified. “They remind me why I entered public service many, many years ago.”

Sheryl Huetter, Terry’s wife, said the sewer connection project would have an impact for years to come.

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“I’m supporting this project because I want to leave the park better for our kids and future generations and residents of our park,” she said.

To watch the group’s testimony, visit the Legislature’s website and skip ahead to 2:21 in the playback.

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