Community came together in the best way possible

View From The Newsroom By Chad Knudson
Sunday, June 26, 2022
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The story starts with confusion: the idea of a statewide convention held in Glendive. So far from everywhere, so remote, so small – or so I was told. The idea was four years in the making, chuckled at for awhile, questioned, dismissed as unworkable and then finally embraced as possible.

One year ago, I stood before the Montana Newspaper Association, high atop Big Sky Resort, and as the incoming president, boldly proclaimed that the next convention would be in Glendive. All previous doubts about my sincerity were erased.

Considering how busy Glendive was this past weekend, the reader is forgiven for not knowing that the 137th Annual Convention of the Montana Newspaper Association also took place here this past Friday and Saturday. For me, it was the culmination of a long journey to meld pride in my hometown with the devotion I have for newspapers. Traditionally, the MNA

Traditionally, the MNA president holds a convention near his or her hometown, or wherever the next largest venue might be. For two of the past three years this meant Big Sky. I’m told many years ago the convention was held in Miles City, but had never been east of Billings in living memory. Although the Flathead Valley, Butte, Fairmont and especially Big Sky have hosted multiple conventions, not one has been held this far east in the last 137 years.

Yet I was confident about holding the convention here due to my faith in three things: 1) My staff had my back, 2) My community had my back, and 3) Our backyard had the rest.

All three came through. Friday night, our “major awards dinner” was held at the Makoshika amphitheater. This backup plan emerged after the road to the Lions Camp was made impassible by sink holes. The Lions agreed to cater at a make-shift location. The park staff scrambled at the last minute to move a scheduled campfire talk. Dawson College Foundation came through with tables and chairs. In the end, the openair dining on the amphitheater stage achieved both shelter from the wind and cloud-cover from the sun. It was an amazing night under the big sky and beautiful badlands! It took a community effort to pull it off and it was a major hit. The strength of community and the beauty of our backyard came through.

The golf scramble associated with the convention was reported to be the most enjoyable one held at a recent convention. I assume this was due to the laid back pace and cooperation of Cottonwood Country Club, which made sure everything went smoothly.

Other tours took in Pam Harr’s gallery, Charley Montana, a local cafe and a paleontology adventure arranged through Dawson Community College and Makoshika State Park. Dino-Dave provided an excellent dig experience. Avis Anderson provided an exciting look at Glendive history during our Saturday luncheon.

Many convention attendees mentioned their private exploration of Glendive. Many shops and sights received mention, including our local thrift store and quilt shop, and we heard from people who were amazed by the long list of downtown businesses they visited – four pairs of shoes, boasted one shopper!

The Better Newspaper Contest awards were presented at Gunners Ridge Saturday evening, and the food, service and venue were all exemplary. That night, after the awards banquet, I encouraged everyone to stay and noted the bar was open. As I cleaned up, the place seemed suddenly empty. I was discouraged until a waiter pointed out the many guests lined up outside on the banks of the river watching the sunset. The beauty of our backyard had come through again.

It is easy to hold a statewide convention at a resort – like Big Sky. It is far more complicated to hold it in a small town on the edge of a vast state. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing staff covering for me. Thanks to Jamie, Hunter, Brendan, Tracy, Elizabeth, Danise, Michella and Allen.

I also couldn’t have done it without the unflinching support of the community. This includes the Glendive Lions and Elks Clubs: Craig Anderson was there from the beginning. Dawson Community College and the Dawson College Foundation, Makoshika State Park staff and many others. To everyone who just said, “yes,” I am grateful! We put our best foot forward and made Glendive look just as good as it really is!

Chad Knudson is the publisher of the Ranger-Review. He can be reached at