Richland Co. Commissioners Award Funds for Savage School Water System
August 10, 2022 | View PDF
“It’s such a blessing. It was truly a gift to our small school and our community,” exclaims Martha Potter, Savage Schools superintendent.
In accordance with Montana Codes Annotated bidding laws, the Savage Public School advertised in the local paper and the Building Bidder’s Exchange. These two resources are used by contractors when searching for construction projects to bid upon. Savage School advertised for six weeks, before a bid came in.
Savage School was not surprised that only one bid came in, as bidders from any distance were facing escalated gas prices and all bidders were struggling with a market that was full of shortage of materials. Superintendent Potter stated, “Our district was very fortunate to have our sole bid to be a local contractor, which was Olson Plumbing and Heating, Sidney. We were nervous that we would not have any contractors interested in the project, because prices of materials and fuel have sky rocketed. The ability to get materials continues to be delayed due to the COVID pandemic; and there continues to be a scarcity of workers willing to work.”
When the Savage Board of Trustees opened the bid to repair the school’s water system on June 28, 2022 the bid was in the amount of $784,265. The board tabled accepting the bid until Board Chair, Shawn Conradsen and Superintendent Potter, could meet with the Richland County Commissioners to discuss the unforeseen costs and ask for help on June 30, 2022.
Superintendent Potter and Board Chair Conradsen, met in a special meeting with the Richland County Commissioners and asked for the difference of what funding was needed to have drinking water, which would no longer be from bottled water. Water that would be readily available for the students and all who entered the doors of the school. The amount that was needed was $564,005.70.
Superintendent Potter was brought to tears when the unanimous decision and final vote by the commissioners was to provide the needed amount, so Savage School had drinking water for their students and community. Board Chair Conradsen and Superintendent Potter graciously thanked the commissioners for their willingness and support. Commissioner Young stated, “As commissioners we want to make sure students of Savage and their community have drinking water as soon as possible and for years to come.” Commissioner Mitchell and Commissioner Gorder wholeheartedly agreed.
The school received $250,000 to help provide quality water to both its students and community through House Bill 6 from the 2021 legislative session. Public Service Commissioner, Randy Pinocci and Representative Brandon Ler, of HD35 were two strong forces behind HB6 legislation. Savage School was also awarded a $25,000 check from Northwest Farm Credit Services. Mark Tombre, a member of the Northwest Farm Credit Services local advisory committee, was the energy behind this generous donation. Tombre’s, heart is within the walls of the Savage School, as many of his grandchildren are students and he has served as a board member for many many years.
Savage’s water saga started in 2018 when water tests exceeded the level of copper safe for students to consume. Since, 2018 bottled water has been the only source of drinking water. At that time much study had been done and the water was being treated to see if chemicals would resolve the issue. As time went on, new findings came to light and the problem became more than a simple water treatment. In 2019, the district started buying a semi-load of bottled water annually from Costco and storing the water on pallets at the school, while continuing to find a solution that would remedy the root cause of the water problem. The future holds a happy ending for the students and community of Savage, because on May 26, 2023 contractor Olson and his crew will begin the repair of the water and finish date is scheduled to be Aug. 11, 2023.