Business Bites: Mermaids return June 18; Kona Ice opens; #TroyStrong blood drive; Future of Ag tour is July 13; city animal shelter hours change; GFPD resuming Citizens Academy; NWGF awards; new exhibits at Russell Museum

sip n dip pool

Mermaids at the Sip ‘n Dip

The mermaids will return to the pool at the Sip ‘n Dip on June 18.

The mermaids have been gone for about a month and the pool was drained for maintenance and repair. The metal pool is covered in fiberglass, which was sanded down and repaired. Then the pool room ceiling and pool were painted. The mural was then painted in the pool and had to dry for 7-10 days before water could be added back. Once filled, it takes three to four days to heat the 21,000 gallons of water, according to Sandi Thares, owner of the Sip.

The pool is repaired and repainted every four years, according to Thares.

Kona Ice

Stu and Kyla Anderson are now operating Kona Ice of Great Falls, a shaved ice truck. Check their Facebook page for locations and hours.

#TroyStrong blood drive

Football-loving Great Falls kindergartner Troy Ross turns 7 in June, a milestone celebrated throughout his community and beyond and at least partly made possible thanks to the generosity of blood donors.

For the fourth straight year, the Ross family is teaming up with the American Red Cross to host a series of blood drives across Montana in Troy’s name, honoring and encouraging the blood donors who helped save their son’s life and the lives of others.

The Great Falls event is 12-6 p.m. on June 24 at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 1300 28th St. S.

“Montana is a pretty special place,” Troy’s mom Callie said. “The fact that we have new donors — and donors we didn’t know who say they donate because they heard Troy’s story — it shows that this is so much bigger than Troy and our family, and that’s what we hoped for. We wanted to make a big impact beyond us.”

Diagnosed with a rare immune disease in 2017, Troy has received more than 90 blood transfusions and was in a fight for his life in the early going.  Over Labor Day weekend four years ago, Troy was airlifted to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and over the course of the next month, three-quarters of his blood supply had to be replaced.

But now he’s doing much better. Treatments he once received every other week have now been cut back to once every eight weeks. And the hope is that after the first of the year that treatment won’t be necessary at all.

Schedule an appointment to donate by visiting and entering the sponsor code TroyStrong or call 800-RED-CROSS. A blood donation takes less than an hour and can potentially save up to three lives.

City animal shelter hours

Due to a seasonal influx of incoming animals and limited staffing, the Great Falls Animal Shelter has changed its hours of operation, effective immediately.

Until further notice, the shelter will be open for business on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with kennel viewing and adoptions from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Office hours on Saturday are 10 a.m to 2 p.m., with kennel viewing and adoptions from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The shelter will be closed on Thursdays and Sundays.

For additional information about the change in the hours of operation at the shelter, contact Jill Van Overbeke, interim director, at 406-454-2276.

Future of Ag tour

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Future of Ag tour July 13.

The tour starts at Heritage Inn and travels around west of Great Falls to tour canola, pulse, wheat and barley crops; as well as a Hutterite colony, fields, an industrial hemp plant, irrigation business, butcher shop and more; and discuss the future of agriculture.

The cost is $25.

Great Falls Police Department Citizens Academy

The city is accepting applications for the fall 2021 citizens academy that will be Thursday nights from 6:30-9:30 p.m., plus one Saturday, Sept. 2 through Nov. 11.

Participants must be 18 or older and pass a background check.

More information and the application form is available here.

NeighborWorks Great Falls awards

On June 10, NeighborWorks Great Falls held their annual most improved awards ceremony as part of NeighborWorks Week.

The winners were:

NeighborWorks Lender of the Year: Mike Banks

NeighborWorks Realtor of the Year: Ambyr Rain Kleinholz

NeighborWorks Volunteer of the Year: Heather Cummins

NeighborWorks Honorable Mention: Jason Edmister

Most Improved Commercial Property: Dascoulias Realty Group

Most Improved Residential: Dana Hennan

Most Improved Rental: Valerie Grubich

Most Improved Historic Building: LIFESTYLE Building

New exhibits at C.M. Russell Museum

The C.M. Russell Museum has opened Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians, featuring works by the legendary artist that portray iconic Western images, and the companion exhibition, Billy Schenck: Myth of the West, by the contemporary artist who founded the Western Pop movement. Originally scheduled for summer 2020 but delayed due to COVID-19, both shows are now open and run through Oct. 2, 2021.

Andy Warhol is the undisputed leader of American Pop Art. The Cowboys and Indians series, Warhol’s last major project before passing in 1987, pays tribute to the archetypal symbols of a popular, romanticized version of the American West. This portfolio of 10 prints includes famous Western stars and symbols such as Geronimo, John Wayne, Annie Oakley and Teddy Roosevelt. The exhibition features the full portfolio plus four additional trial prints offering a time-capsule of American media culture in the 1980s.

The companion Myth of the West exhibit, features the works of Billy Schenck, known as the “Warhol of the West.” Inspired by artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Schenck’s artwork is known for utilizing cinematic imagery reproduced in a flattened, reductivist style where colors are displayed side-by-side rather than blended or shadowed. Myth of the West is a complete retrospective of Schenck’s work and showcases 29 pieces in the artist’s distinctive style.

Great Falls Symphony adds development director

The Great Falls Symphony recently hired a new development director to help support the long-term growth and financial health of the organization.

Angela Costley brings more than 17 years of experience with the Great Falls Symphony. She holds a position in the violin section and has served on the orchestra council, the board of directors, and most recently has managed the Great Falls Symphony’s youth orchestra and educational programs. She has been involved with the Black Tie & Blue Jeans planning committee for more than 10 years, and has been instrumental in helping raise more than $600,000 for the symphony. Angela holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Wyoming.

Only 33 percent of the Great Falls Symphony’s expenses are covered through the sale of tickets. Additionally, only about 8-10 percent of the symphony’s contributed revenue comes from grants. “That is why it is so important to develop, diversify and increase our fundraising efforts,” Executive Director Hillary Shepherd said in a release. “We want to be able to continue to fulfill our mission and take care of our musicians and staff. We exist to help make Great Falls a better place through music, and we truly wouldn’t be able to do that without the support of the people in this great community.”

The Great Falls Symphony reaches more than 40,000 people annually through their programs and events. They present a classic symphony series, a chamber music series, Broadway in Great Falls, and they are partners in the Downtown Summer Jams 4th of July Hootenanny event. They are the only symphony in the state that has a youth orchestra program, which serves more than 100 young musicians throughout the region.

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