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Montana family, community still reeling from ag vandalism

Reward offered in Chouteau County vandalism case
Reward offered in Chouteau County vandalism case
Posted at 11:03 AM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-26 13:04:52-04

HAVRE - MTN News recently reported on a family who had woken up to a phone call from their neighbor that their farm machinery had been destroyed.

The nine pieces of equipment are estimated to cost around $500,000 to replace.

The Gasovda family says that damage on their property in southern Blaine County is believed to have happened on either Aug. 17 or Aug. 18.

Once the devastating news hit the town, friends, family, and neighbors jumped in to help.

“It was shocking. It was numb. You go through so many emotions. Why would somebody do this?” said Cortney Gasvoda, the owner of the damaged equipment. “How do you even prepare for something like this?”

When long-time friend Arleen Rice heard of the devastating news, she wanted to be there for her friends.

“This is a community. They are such good, hard-working people. I couldn’t believe that something like this could happen," Rice said.

With thousands of dollars worth of damages to machinery and supplies that would cost the Gasvodas quite a lot to replace, Rice knew that she had to do something to help.

“I couldn’t just sit by and let them go through this alone so, I offered to open an account so that our neighbors can donate money to help them. At first, you know, they didn’t want to accept anything because they’re so used to helping others," Rice said.

"They're very humble, quiet, hardworking people. And I just said, you know, let people help that want to help because this is everybody's farm and ranch worst nightmare," Rice continued. "I felt really compelled to try to do something to help them recover from this.”

Reward offered in Montana ranch vandalism case
Montana ranch vandalism case

Rice has done just that. So far — with more than $3,500 saved — Rice hopes that others will be generous enough to donate because she believes that anything helps.

Cortney and her husband Brian are overwhelmed with gratitude for their friends, family, and neighbors that have contributed.

“I thank Arleen, for helping us. And it's very humbling. We have so much gratitude and appreciation for these people.” Cortney said.

It just goes to show that no matter the disaster, a community will stick together to help each other. When they say "ag strong," they really do mean it.

If you’d like to donate to help the Gasvoda family recover, you can mail checks made out to the“Gasvoda Equipment Recovery Fund, Independence Bank, P.O. Box 2090 Havre, MT, 59501.

For questions about how to donate, call Independence Bank at 406-265-1241.

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office or the Gasvoda family.

A reward of up to $20,000 is being offered for information about the vandalism.