Locals prepare for ‘The Wizard of OZ’ play live at The Memorial Center
“Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore”

Submitted by Patty Rambo


It’s February, a new beginning to the new year.  The weather is changing.  Hopes are high.

But… the changing weather?… it may be a tornado… a horrendous tornado, and suddenly, we aren’t in Kansas.  We’ve been transported – for a few hours – with Dorothy and Toto – over the rainbow to the Merry Old Land of Oz… the Land of Munchkins, Good and Wicked Witches… and the Emerald City to find the elusive Wizard of Oz himself.

After two years of planning, rehearsing, and anticipating that ending in the disappointments of twice being canceled by the overshadowing of Covid – the cast and crew of the Kootenai Karacters are gearing up to finally bring the magic of this production to life on the stage of the Libby Memorial Events Center on March 31st, April 1st, 2nd and 3rd this spring!

With a cast of 32 anxious actors, ages 6 to 66, the excitement level is high! With the passage of time Guest Director, Jill Olson, had returned to her home in western Washington, but has graciously said she would move back temporarily to complete the production.  Two years ago, Jill Olson’s husband was the interim pastor at Libby’s Christ Lutheran Church.  As director of L. Frank Baum’s rendition of “The Wizard of Oz”, Jill is eager to once more be involved with this tale of family, childhood imagination, determination, friendship and triumph.

Also thrilled to finally play their roles are the intrepid actors of the Kootenai Karacters with Cindy Curtiss as the Wicked Witch of the West, Brian Bell as the Tinman, Scott B. Johnson as the Lion, Carl “Bubba” Leggins as the Wizard, H. Walsh as Uncle Henry, and Jenece Scheer as Almira Gulch. Moving to new roles are Amy Smart as Dorothy, and Laurie Walsh as Glinda.

Sets were designed and built by Steve Lethrud with the experienced assistance of Rich Burns, Kyle Swendsbye, and artist Patty Rambo two years ago so that part of the work is nearly completed.  A vital part of this production is the orchestra and live musical aspect under the capable and ever professional guidance of Lorraine Braun.  While early music rehearsals also are underway, there are some missing musicians which Ms. Braun is confident those positions will be filled and the orchestra will be top-notch by opening night.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Libby Memorial Events Center for the performances which will be at 7:00 pm on the evenings of March 31st, April 1st and 2nd with a special matinee performance Sunday, April 3rd at 3:00 pm.  This will be the first production by the Kootenai Karacters, in over two years. Their production of The Wizard of Oz is in partnership with the Kootenai Heritage Council and Lincoln County Credit Union.

Roundup for Safety Funds Nine Community Safety


The Roundup for Safety Board awarded a total of $40,246 in grants to community nonprofits at its February 11 meeting.

The Board considered nine eligible community safety projects, including a flashing speed sign request from the West Glacier School. The elementary school faces multiple safety challenges, as its location on Old Bridge Road is just off the Going-to-the-Sun Road and sandwiched in between the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and the BNSF railroad tracks.

The current speed limit sign is located well before the school and is often obstructed by leaves. West Glacier School informed the Board that they have $500 for installing the sign’s pole and requested assistance in funding the $2,300 sign. The signage is a Free Standing Driver Feedback Sign, meaning it displays the posted speed limit and the speed a driver is actually traveling. It is solar powered.

Teacher Kimberly Poore noted that students are in school from 7:40 a.m. through 4:10 p.m. and therefore enter and exit in the dark during November through March. The school’s parking area is not separate from Old Bridge Road, so students walk along the dark road.

Approximately 160 people comprise the West Glacier community, but 1.6 million visitors accessed Glacier National Park last year. The Board granted the West Glacier School’s community safety funding request in full.


Other projects funded during the February meeting included:


  • The Heritage Museum – $7,500 – roof replacement
  • Underwater Soldiers – $1,200 – AED
  • St. Matthew’s Catholic School – $5,000 – digital security cameras
  • DREAM Adaptive Recreation – $1,200 – AED
  • Three Rivers EMS – $396 – child safety restraints for ambulance
  • Habitat for Humanity – $2,400 – two AEDs
  • Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse – $10,000 – advanced first responder Trauma Kits (70)
  • Kalispell Babe Ruth – $250 – first aid kit, ice machine
  • Senior Mobile Home Repair Program – $10,000 – senior mobile home repair


To date in 2022, Roundup for Safety Board has distributed $50,246 in community safety project funding. Grants are considered each month. Applications are accepted on Flathead Electric Co-op’s website. The Roundup for Safety Board next meets on March 10; applications are due February 28. For additional information about the program, call Courtney Stone at 406-751-1820 or visit www.flatheadelectric.com/roundup.

Roundup for Safety is a voluntary program for Flathead Electric Cooperative members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar, with the extra money going into a fund for community safety projects proposed by nonprofit organizations. The Co-op is grateful to all who enhance community safety. Typically, participating in the Roundup program costs a member about $6 per year. About 63% of accounts round up their bills for community safety projects.

Since 1997, the Roundup for Safety program has awarded more than $4,300,000 to organizations supporting over 1,200 projects.

Flathead Electric Co-op was founded in 1937 to bring electric service to rural areas of the Flathead Valley. The Co-op offers generation, transmission, and distribution of affordable, reliable, carbon-free electric energy and is the largest co-op in Montana, serving 56,000+ members, while focusing on community, innovation, and reliability.


Submitted by

Courtney Stone,

Flathead Electric