NeighborWorks News

2018 Most Improved Award Winners

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Today, NeighborWorks celebrated improvements in Great Falls at the Annual Most Improved Awards. These awards honor folks who improve our city and the property owners who have invested their hard-earned funds into the historic neighborhoods of Great Falls. The 2018 Award Winners are listed below.

Most Improved Rental – Joel and Jenny Todd, 624 5th Avenue South:

This blighted property sat vacant for 17 years when a buyer out of Bozeman bought it off of a tax sale and was overwhelmed with the project. Soon after, Joel and Jenny Todd purchased this property for its beauty, character and historical features and set to work. They installed a new boiler, new sewer, new windows, refinished staircases, re-plumbed, rewired, re-roofed, and repainted (just to name a few things). There are five units located within the property.

Most Improved Residential – Michael Croscutt, 2301 Central Avenue:

Michael’s son purchased the house in 2008. They started out with the foundation and went on to gutting the house and remodeling it. This most improved award is 10 years of hard work and determination in the making. Thank you for helping beautify our community!

Most Improved Commercial Property - The Diegel Building, 26 4th Street North:

The Diegel Building has been under renovation since September of 2016. The owners, Paul and Tom Diegel and the property manager, Allison Smith have worked hard and still are planning more finishing touches. The building was 4 or 5 separate structures at one point and now house Keen Kut, Gateway and formerly Sutherlands.

Best New Building Award: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Great Falls 421 3rd St NW:

They started construction in January 2017 and opened on April 12, 2018. The hotel boasts 4 floors, with 132 suites, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center and 4 meeting rooms with over 2600 square feet of meeting space. Located on the Missouri River in the heart of Montana, Great Falls provides a base camp for a wide range of outdoor adventures and offers a haven of rich arts, and culture.

Best New Downtown Building Award - Lithia Motors, 800 Central Avenue:

They purchased the building from Bennett Motors in 2015 and started construction in October of 2015. Construction was finished in February 2018 and grand opening is set for late summer.

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: Peak West Bank Landing, 401 3rd Street NW:

The building was built in the early 1880's and was part of the first settlement in the area as a hub for the BNSF Railway. The renovation and construction started in the beginning of 2017 and just opened the facility in January of 2018. The facility is located on the Missouri River that boasts 15,000 square feet of amenities including first class equipment – state of the art cardio machines, and a spacious equipment floor, 3 studios, and a kids club childcare.

Volunteer of the Year – Sandy Rice:

Sandy has made Great Falls a better place to live for many years volunteering at Meals on Wheels, joining the AAUW, and getting appointed, then elected to Neighborhood Council 7, and the Downtown Safety Alliance. As a member of the Safety Alliance, she visited all of the Councils to talk about safety downtown, pan-handling diversion and bringing good news about the ascendancy of Downtown as THE place to shop, eat, play, live and recreate. Sandy loves living in the downtown neighborhood and does her best to make it a better place to live always picking up trash and keeping her eyes open for more ways to make Downtown Great Falls a great place.

NeighborWorks Board Member Recognition – Brett Doney:

Brett is the President and CEO of the Great Falls Development Authority and High Plains Financial. He has over 30 years’ experience leading economic development organizations. He was a NeighborWorks Board member for nine years and always had great input to bring NeighborWorks to a new level.

Business Partner of the Year - Leonard Lundby – Triangle Turf:

Leonard at Triangle Turf is always one of NeighborWorks’ most pleasant vendors. NeighborWorks Great Falls has been working with him for 8 years with our Sod and Spray program every spring. Leonard is a fantastic supporter of NeighborWorks.

Realtor of the Year - Polly Pearson/Abby Williams, Keller Williams:

Keller Williams was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, as a listing realtor and even a few as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls.Thank you for helping our customers become homeowners!

Lending Partner of the Year – Doug Spence, Embark Credit Union:

Doug is a lender that goes above and beyond always finding the best product for his clients. Doug was involved in the most transactions with NeighborWorks loan products. Doug is always helpful and attentive to each of his customers – he looks at where they are at and gives them every option he can find in order to get them into a home. He loves to help people and always guides them in the right direction with a smile.

2017 Most Improved Winners

2017 Most Improved Winners

Friday, June 09, 2017

Volunteer of the Year: Paul Jermunson for spending hundreds of hours volunteering at the Owner-Build Homes project. In this program, 10 families build 10 homes, no one moves in until all of the homes are finished. Each family and their volunteers spend over 1200 hours building the homes. Paul spent his time with the families that most needed volunteers to help them build.

Board Member Recognition: Laura Goldhahn – Laura served on the NeighborWorks board of directors from 2003 through 2016 and was president of the Board for two years. “Her wisdom and willingness to take risks led NeighborWorks Great Falls to greater achievements and greater impact”, said Sheila Rice, Executive Director, “We are a better organizations because of Laura’s leadership.” 

Business Partner of the year: Stewart Title – Stewart Title, a great supporter of NeighborWorks for many, many years, helped implement the contract for deed financing program, participated in the fund drive (including a you-tube campaign video starring two Stewart employees), and closed the complicated Owner-Built Homes loans.

Realtor of the Year Award: Beth Duke, Coldwell Banker The Falls Real Estate - Beth was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, both as a listing realtor and as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls in 2016.  

Lending Partner of the Year Award: First Interstate Bank First Interstate Bank is was named the lending partner of the year, as the first mortgage lender for more than 20% of the secondary loans made by NeighborWorks Great Falls. First Interstate has been a financial supporter of NeighborWorks since 1980.  

Most Improved Rental: Margaret Apartments, Garry Hackett, 413 Central Avenue - Garry Hackett worked magic in taking the upper floors of the Margaret Building nothing to something. An old hotel, the upper floors now houses quality 13 apartments. Earlier, Garry redeveloped the Hastings Building at 609 and 611 Central into upper-floor apartment units and ground-floor retail space and he recently purchased the building at 511 Central for renovation and his home. Garry’s investments show that he is a believer in downtown Great Falls.  

Most Improved Residential: Lee and Sandy Houle – 420 7th Avenue South-Lee is a long-time supporter of NeighborWorks, having served on the board of directors as a resident of the south side. After growing up on the south side, Lee bought this home from NeighborWorks many years ago and has continually upgraded and taken care of it. This year, due to hail damage, Sandy and Lee completely resided and landscaped the home into a beautiful addition to the 700 block of 7th Avenue South. Lee and Sandy love the south side and intend to live there for many more years.  

Most Improved Commercial Property: Wines By Wednesday Event Center, Mark Tronson, 214 5th Street South

Mark Tronson has a vision for downtown and he is making that dream come true to restoring the long-vacant Van Tighem Metal Shop into Wines by Wednesday and an event center to use for wine tasting parties and concerts. The large space, including a mezzanine level with a historic backbar from Holter Lake Lodge, seats up to 150 people and can be rented for wedding receptions, company meetings and other events. The improvements include new heating and air conditioning, large windows, a new stairway and rails, old-fashioned looking Einstein lights, painting and a thorough cleaning.  

Best New Building Award: Cameron Family Center, Great Falls Rescue Mission, 408 2nd Avenue South- One of the largest investments in downtown in recent years is the Great Falls Rescue Mission Cameron Family Center, built to provide the temporary home where no homeless family suffers and struggles alone, and where families do not have to be separated in order to receive the help they need. Prior to the opening, there were no facilities in North Central Montana that provided a shelter for families with children. The Center features 13 private rooms with private bathrooms and four dorms for temporary residents, a day-care center so parents can take classes and look for jobs and assistance programs, living rooms, community chapels, a family-style eating atmosphere and community kitchens.  

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: St. Vincent de Paul Grace Home, 2211 5th Avenue North - The Grace Home Veteran's Center is operating by St Vincent De Paul Society as a veterans transition facility and was very well supported by active and retired military and other citizens who came to build, decorate, trim trees and to clean up debris. Prior to Grace Home opening, Great Falls was the only community in the state that did not have any transitional living place for veterans. The Grace Home repurposes a building which started life as a monastery, continued as a mental health residential center, and now finds a new purpose in sheltering veterans


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