The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center is looking to set down a permanent home and Madison County is vying with communities around the state to win the bid.
However, the timeline to put a project application together is short and the list of needs long, said Sam Korsmoe, executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Council.
“The development council is going to do all the work, put together the whole proposal, if Madison County wants it,” Korsmoe said.
The history of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame dates back to 2001 when the Montana Legislature passed a bill saying there should be a such a place and it should be in Wolf Point, he said.
During the next 10 years, the hall of fame got a board of directors and raised money to put together a plan, but never broke ground. In the 2011 legislature the stipulation that the hall of fame be located in Wolf Point was removed and an open competition was initiated around the state.
Last month Korsmoe submitted a preliminary application that essentially got Madison County’s foot in the door and allowed them to receive the official request for proposals from the hall of fame board of directors.
The general idea is that a potential site be appropriate for the general designs already prepared for the project, Korsmoe said.
The campus-style plans require about 30 acres of land, which is a big commitment for any community in Madison County.
“Without that component in our proposal we probably won’t make the short list,” he said.
So in the next few weeks, Korsmoe is going to be busy determining where in Madison County the 30-acre hall of fame complex can and should be located, and getting the proposal written.
“So now it’s ‘Okay where, where in Madison County?’” he said. “In the proposal we have to be fairly specific.”
But one thing seems certain, Madison County is certainly the right place for the Montana Cowboy Hall fo Fame and Western Heritage Center, said county commissioner Dan Happel.
“I think it’s a terrific idea since most of the history in the state started right here,” Happel said.
And although he leans toward locating it in Virginia City because of it’s central location, any community in Madison County would be appropriate, he said.
“We’ve got a lot of great communities in the county that would all be very good locations for something like this,” Happel said.
Other communities in the state vying for the project include Lewistown, Great Falls and Billings.
“We’ve got some big players with a lot of money that we’re going to be competing with on this,” he said. “I want to make sure if we do get into this on a competitive basis, that we give it our best shot.”
By October or early November, the hall of fame board of directors will have made a short list of potential sites and conduct site visits, Korsmoe said. So things are going to happen pretty quickly. He’s got a lot of work to do and MCEDC has a big decision to make.
“The real nut of it is going to be is this a Ruby Valley thing or Madison Valley thing,” Korsmoe said.
He encourages people with ideas about the project to contact him at 682-5923.