RONAN — Ronan never takes in the welcome mat and now the welcome sign is back in place, culminating a community project that's been underway for a couple of years.
The original arch had spanned Round Butte Road leading into downtown Ronan for more than 20-years, erected as a special project by Ronan High School students. But the original span was showing its wear from withstanding Mission Valley's weather for so long so late last winter, the original arch was removed.
Current high school students have spent much of this year carving new replacement logs and other parts. Everything was ready Monday morning and with a platoon of trucks, the new arch pieces were lifted into place, and then connected, forming the new span.
"The school was integral. We had Casey Lunsford and 'Hap" Cheff in the Ag Department and the shop doing a ton. Jay Preston at Access Montana got Western Building Center, Mission Valley Power, Jennison Tree Service, the city -- we just got a ton of people that came together, committee member and business owner Jamie Buhr said. “And they're all super happy to do it. It was just wonderful."
It was a harder project than it looks. Not only are the logs massive and have to be bolted together, but the entire structure has to align with the four support columns on either side of the street -- and that took some engineering.
"The last several months have been Jay Preston and Michael Dennison -- who's a local logger here -- doing a lot of the detail work with it. And then a consultant with, Jason Delaney -- who's an engineer – [has] been helping with all the math on it,” Buhr explained. “Yeah, it all came together quite nicely really."
The new arch also features a lot of upgrades, not the least of which is the new copper plates to help protect it from the weather. There's still some finishing touches to be done to the Ronan Arch.
They're going to finish putting that copper cladding across the entire span, probably next spring, and add the welcome sign that was put together by Ronan High School students.
Most of all, business leaders hope the sign entice more travelers to turn off Highway 93 and see what Ronan is all about, "Yeah, we hope that it intrigues them a little a bit and makes them turn left, or right depending on what direction they're going,” Burh said. “Yeah, for sure.” Buhr told MTN News."
The Restore Ronan Arch project raised about $40,000-to-$50,000 for the project.
Here is a list of trucks and hands on site on Monday:
- Western Building Center
- Mission Valley Power
- Cross Diamond Boom Service
- Access Montana
- Jennison Tree Service
- City of Ronan and Street Department staff,
- Cordell Hardy
- Valley Banks
- Glacier Bank
- Ronan High School CTE (career technical education) students
- The Arch Committee.