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Hope for the Old School

| January 23, 2007 11:00 PM

Libby School Board member Melanie Wood had a legitimate question for Kalispell developer Bryan Scott on Monday.

What's your interest in Libby?

Scott, investment executive with Flathead Financial Group, told the school board during a special meeting his company is extremely interested in buying the old Libby High School. They would like to renovate the 90-year-old building for primarily offices, and possibly for artists' studios and a coffee shop.

Flathead Financial Group by early March hopes to decide if it's economically feasible. Work would begin this spring.

Scott says he believes in Libby.

The members of his family-owned company see a future in Libby.

"We see what's going on in Eureka with three new golf courses. The growth is crazy," he told the school board.

Scott claims folks are coming to this area from Arizona, California, Nevada and Canada. He believes Libby will be a pure retirement community - a more simple town that doesn't have amenities like a fancy ski resort.

"But you have other things and I believe you'll have growth," he told the board.

For every 100 retirees, he claims one doctor, two nurses, one banker and one insurance agent will be needed. The service industry will grow. These jobs will be filled by younger folks with families.

Scott also envisions developing a town square around the old high school, particularly with the Memorial Center nearby and the band shell park.

That's what they did in Prescott, Ariz., he told the board.

Located in the mountains in the north central part of the state, the city borders Prescott National Forest and nearby towns of Chino Valley and Prescott Valley.

Dubbed "Everybody's Hometown," Prescott is home to the downtown Courthouse Plaza, famous Whiskey Row, World's Oldest Rodeo, Prescott Fine Arts Association, Sharlot Hall Museum, Phippen Art Museum, Folk Arts Fair, Frontier Days and Territorial Days.

The Courthouse Plaza in the center of the downtown is framed by towering elms and the focal point for activities, including crafts fairs, antique shows and art shows. The plaza and Yavapai County Courthouse are well-known throughout Arizona as symbolizing the quintessential Midwestern downtown square.

"When we look at Prescott, Ariz., we see Libby 30 years from now," Scott told the board.

Sure does sound positive.

Let's hope it could possibly come to be. - Gwen Albers