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Horsemen’s support needed in response to draft plan for Helena fairgrounds


May 6, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

When the Lewis and Clark County Fair Board in Helena unveiled draft plans for future fairground use at a special meeting on Monday, April 11, a future for horse racing was not included in those plans. And while citizens in attendance were vocal in support of a future for live horse racing, the fair board unanimously voted to consider the new plan as drafted.

County officials will present the draft to community groups and then hold a May 9 public hearing on the matter. Then on May 23, a regular meeting of the fair board will be held, and the board will vote on the plan. Following that meeting and vote, the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners will address the issue at their regular meeting on June 7.

Rockey Whipkey of the Montana Horse Racing Alliance, a driving force in organizing the April 23 Equine Seminar in Helena to address Montana horse racing concerns as well as other equine concerns, is a member of the Lewis and Clark City-County Historic Preservation Commission and is concerned the second oldest race track in the nation is about to be torn up.

“Their plans are NOT to include horse racing,” Whipkey said. “They’ve pretty much made that clear to the public. They don’t want the race track, but we’re still trying to get them to preserve that track for us so we can have racing out there.”

Whipkey added, “But we do need support. Any support from anywhere within the states on this issue might help us out.
“These folks that are out there in racing, if they want to have some races here in Helena, now is the time to speak up about it. We could use their support on this issue.”

Whipkey said letters of support for horse racing are welcome and could be sent to himself at Montana Horse Racing Alliance, 918 Missoula Ave., Helena 59601. Or the public may contact the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners (Ed Tinsley, Chair; Anita Varone, Vice Chair; and Mike Murray) with reactions to the draft plan by email, mail or fax through Ron Alles, County Administrator. His email is ralles@co.lewis-clark.mt.us, mailing address is P.O. Box 1724, Helena, 59624, and fax is 406-447-8370.

Or contact Keith Hatch, Fairgrounds Coordinator, at Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds, P.O. Box 1384, Helena, MT 59624; Fax: 406-442-1078; or email khatch@co.lewis-clark.mt.us.