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Shaving cream, Silly String to replace homecoming bonfire at Troy

| September 15, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

A burning issue turned into a standing-room only meeting for Wednesday's Troy School Board.

Many of the 45 people wanted to know why a shaving cream and Silly String battle would replace the annual homecoming bonfire on Sept. 22.

The discussion ended up a moot point.

Montana officials one week ago banned outdoor burning statewide until further notice due to poor air quality.

School officials planned to cancel the fire before the ban out of concern for students' safety, said high school principal Rodney Smith. They are more than willing to let a parent group take it over, which frees the school district of the liability.

Students last year got too close the bonfire and tossed aerosol shaving cream cans into it, Smith said.

"It was a scary situation," he said. "I think the bonfire is great, but once it becomes a risk to the kids . . .."

There also was concern for not having a good place for the fire. It was held last year behind W.J. Morrison Elementary School.

"If we were to do a bonfire, we don't have the facility," Smith said.

High school student council advisor Kelly Palmer agreed with Smith.

"You've got 50- to 60-foot flames and a pile of embers 5 to 6 feet deep. When Mr. Smith said we weren't going to have the bonfire, I supported it," Palmer said. "It's tradition, but on the other hand it's a liability. I'm told back in the day in Troy, you could bring in your rifle and put it in your locker if you hunted after school. Things change."

The district's insurance carrier also would not approve the bonfire unless the wood is secured and fire is barricaded, said board chairwoman Sylvia Maffit.

School board member Steve Garrett noted they have one year to come up with a bonfire plan for next fall.

"I would like to see this done in as safe a form as possible," Garrett said. "I agree it's part of the culture and things change, and we have to change."

Student council plans to order Silly String and shaving cream in bulk. It would then be sold to students at a discount.

In other business, the board:

l Hired Bonnie Price for a 12-hour-a-week, in-school suspension monitor. The district had paid a teacher $19 an hour for the job and will pay Price $9.47 an hour.

l Hired John Hanson as a part-time custodian, replacing Eloise Aldrich.

l Hired Darla Winn as a part-time assistant cook, replacing Patti Suber. Suber took a full-time position at the elementary school.