By Tracy McNew
Shopko announced in March of 2019 that it would close all retail store locations. Three months later, Libby’s ShopKo Hometown was closed permanently. The building has sat empty for over a year now, but recently contractors showed up to begin a remodel project. Corstone, according to their website is, “a general contractor located in the Seattle area and serving the entire Western States region.” They provide, “comprehensive construction service for retail, restaurant, veterinary/healthcare, and commercial customers.”
Plans for the former ShopKo’s building remodel obtained by The Montanian show that the building will be divided into three sections. From the parking lot, the front left side of the building will become a Dollar Tree, and the front right side will become a Family Dollar. The back of the building will remain available for leasing. Family Dollar is a variety chain that offers items at multiple price points while Dollar Tree sells everything for $1. Family Dollar is owned by Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., which is a Fortune 500 company operating over 15,000 locations throughout the continental United States.
No information about the planned Libby stores has been released by Dollar Tree to date. The Montanian reached out to Dollar Tree’s corporate headquarters but did not receive a response. Corstone contracting also declined to comment on the planned tenants of the former ShopKo building which, according to svc.mt.gov‘s cadastral, is owned by Cool Investment LLC in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Based on Dollar Tree’s 2017 annual report, they had 193,100 employees in 15,288 locations which averages about 13 employees per store. Creation of jobs, and another place to shop locally for a variety of items including apparel, housewares, cleaning supplies, furniture, food, seasonal items, and more, will be a welcomed addition for many.
Below: Plans for the new Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.
Kootenai Highland Gathering event this weekend
By Brian Baxter
Friday and Saturday, July 17-18 are the dates for the Kootenai Highland Gathering and Games up Hwy. 37 just passed the 13 mile marker. The River Bend Restaurant field is the perfect spot for this event along the Kootenai River. Friday evening there will be music, food, vendors, along with the annual fun games like nice legs contest, tug-o-war, caber toss and others. The group will also be holding the Primitive Games on Friday eve, and youth games begin 6 p.m. ish and 7 p.m. ish for adults. The SAAA Athletic Games will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday the 18 of July. Also available for folks to enjoy are Clan Booths, Pipes & Drums, and Stage Entertainment.
For folks needing lodging, there are several locations available. These include Kootenai River Guest Cabins at 293-7578, the Country Inn at 293-2092, the Venture Inn at 293-7711, the Caboose Motel at 800-627-0206, the Huckleberry House Bed & Breakfast at 293-9720, Dumont’s Creekside Bed & Breakfast at 293-0660, the Sandman Motel at 293-8831, and there is also free dry camping in the hay field passed the restaurant. Admission to the games and events is by donation, and there are no animals allowed inside the gathering games. Vendors selling food and drink need to be permitted by the Lincoln County Health Department, and they need to contact them at 283-2441, or email them at email@example.com. Remember there is no cell service available at the field. For more information on the Celtic Games and Gathering, folks can call Dee Teske at 291-6939, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Tammy Blackburn at 293-5140, or email email@example.com. Also Angie MacLaury can be reached at 291-0825. This unique event is coordinated with the SAAA Northern Rockies Division, and this organization standardizes Scottish Highlanders Games across the world.
In speaking with co-organizer Dee Teske, she said, “The SAAA athletes will be competing for points which go towards their world points total to compete at the world finals. ” When asked about new and exciting additions this year, Teske said, “We have double the amount of athletes than we have ever had before, this is amazing. As of July 5, there are 62 athletes registered to compete. And we have a little group of Highland dancers from the Flathead area who are going to dance on stage. It’s always fun to watch the little ones dance.” Teske also stated that they are glad to have the Montana Highlanders Pipes and Drums joining the event this year. It seems some of the other entertainers were not able to come due to them residing in Canada, and the borders being closed due to Covid-19.
Teske said, “We will have the Boulder Creek Band playing on the outdoor stage on Friday evening. There will be beer, and we have weavers, broom makers, wood craftsmen, chain mail and metal craftsmen, soap and jewelry makers, bakers, Celtic wares and of course, Celtic history items, because you can’t know who you are, until you know where your from.” When asked to sum up her excitement about the event, Teske said, “It’s great to watch these athletes build each other up. Even though they may be competing against one another, they still cheer on fellow competitors in hopes that they gain a personal best that day. They are always willing to give pointers to athletes who are new to the Celtic games. The comradeship among Celtic athletes is an enjoyable one to watch.”
2019 Kootenai Highlands Gathering, Pipe and Drum Corps salute the Republic of Ireland Flag. Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian
investigates transmission of COVID-19 as active cases rise
By Ben Kibbey
The Lincoln County Health Department is conducting ongoing investigations into transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 as the current count of active cases in the county rose to 26 as of Sunday evening.
Lincoln County Public Health Nurse Trista Gilmore was joined Friday by County Public Health Manager Jennifer McCully as the two held a Facebook Live question and answer session to update the public on what the health department is doing.
As of Friday, McCully and Gillmore said they were not aware of any plans to make mask wear mandatory in Lincoln County. However, such a decision would be up to government officials such as the County Commissioners.
McCully and Gillmore Also talked about contact tracing and the limits the health department faces in regard to releasing information.
McCully said that the health department is currently limited on the amount of information they can speak about regarding people who have tested positive through PCR DNA tests, given the size of local communities. Providing too many details could lead to individuals being identified due to the small population of Lincoln County.
Details that could be released in a larger community cannot be released here without, essentially, violating the individual’s right to privacy.
However, the health department is conducting interviews with anyone who tests positive, she said.
Gillmore stressed the thoroughness with which they inquire about the movements and activities of those who test positive.
“We really go step by step with them,” Gillmore said. “It’s not like we’re just relying on memory; we try to jog memories as well.”
The health department is most interested in the 48 hours prior to someone beginning to show symptoms of COVID-19, McCully said.
She stressed that, when identifying people who have come into contact with someone who tested positive, they then trace that second person’s contacts based on when they are positive for COVID-19, not simply when they came into contact with someone who was also positive for COVID-19.
McCully also noted that the tracing they are doing is nothing new for the health department. It is the same methodology they apply to approximately 130 other diseases, even for something such as salmonella poisoning.
“We’ve gone through extensive training, lots of classes – it’s the same thing as when we search an STD or any of those kinds of things,” Gillmore said.
Both reminded the public that there are multiple opportunities available to get tested for COVID-19 for anyone who is concerned they may have had contact with someone.
Currently, the county is not doing antibody tests, they said. Tests being conducted by various entities around Lincoln County are testing for the DNA signature of the virus itself.
As a result, someone who was previously infected and recovered will not show positive on a test, only someone who is currently infected, McCully said.
In addition to the work they are doing to trace infections and sources, the health department is continuing to work with people who are holding events to ensure they are following the current state directives, McCully said.
McCully also explained the purpose behind the limitations of gatherings to 50 people. Part of the reason for that limit is not only to limit potential contact, but to make it easier to track the spread if someone does seem to have become infected from a contact during an event.
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Lincoln County Public Health Manager Jennifer McCully (left) and County Public Health Nurse Trista Gilmore held a Facebook Live question and answer period to try to help the public understand steps the health department is taking to limit the spread of COVID-19 locally.