What’s So “Great?”

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The Tribune finally published some of the results of their “What Makes Great Falls So ‘Great’?” survey, which was spurred by a guest column last May from resident Claire Baiz. In the essay, Ms Baiz said that Great Falls is the “ugly stepsister” of Montana cities when compared to Bozeman, Kalispell, Missoula, etc. In response, the Tribune challenged readers to tell everyone what makes Great Falls special, as well as list some things that could be better. The results are in, and it looks like the biggest vote-getters (with # of votes) are:

Great People 129
Local Parks 52
River Running Through the City 52
Rivers Edge Trail 52
Arts & Culture 51
Education/Schools 48
Hunting/Fishing/Outdoor Activities 47
City Size 45
Big Blue Sky 42
Natural Beauty/Nature 29

There were plenty of other responses that garnered fewer votes, such as the Farmers Market, the presence of Malmstrom AFB and the Air National Guard, the delightful Bison Hunt statuettes, tasty Viking Meatballs at the State Fair, and even the wind (I’m sure it was cursed by as many, too). It’s clear that people appreciate the friendly nature of Great Falls residents; that was #1 on my list, too. Natural beauty and Mother Nature ranked pretty high, too, as did the size of Great Falls — it’s what I call “just right” — not too big, not too small. Something that I neglected to mention when voting, but which did get one vote from a whimsical citizen: squirrels! The Trib will tell us later what the survey said about improving Great Falls, as well as some of the possible replacement nicknames for our community (I submitted “The Heart of Montana”). So…what do you think about the survey results?



  1. I want to say something highly cynical and cranky about the “great” people in Great Falls. Honestly, the number of “great” people in Great Falls, I can count on one hand.

  2. Now, Aaron, those cute little squirrels supply “squirrel tv” for my Golden Retrievers, via the picture window. If you feed them peanuts, they won’t steal your tomatoes and strawberries. And didn’t your grandmother teach you to always plant enough for the pests?
    Kim, there are some great people here. There are also a bunch of red-necked dullards. It’s really like anywhjere else. Choose your company accordingly. 🙂
    And Kalispell makes me claustrophobic. I love being able to see 360 degrees, with blue skies and prairie. I love Great Falls, and believe me, no one is more aware of what’s wrong than I am. But I don’t dwell on it because I am looking at all the wonderful things we have here and how to build on them.
    You can’t built anything solid on a foundation of negativity. I’ll fold up my soapbox now.;) Have a Great week in Great Falls!

  3. If I remember right the Trib also said about half of the respondents were captive students, 7th grade and up. I’m not sure whether the student half or the adult half are responsible for some of the odd responses but mixing the two sure prevents one from drawing any serious conclusions from the results. Then again when could you ever reach any serious conclusions from anything reported by the Tribune?

  4. Dona; You ENCOURAGE those rats-with-bushy-tails? For shame! How about a mayoral platform of importing some natural squirrel predators, like owls, to Gibson Park? 🙂

    ZenPanda; Try Red-fox urine. You can buy it, bottled, from sources on the Internet. The stuff stinks to high-heaven, but actually keeps the evil rats-with-bushy-tails out of the yard. My only problem is thinking about the poor soul who has the job of collecting it.

  5. Hey, Wolfpack: Do you think you have to be an old fart like us to have opinions that matter? I think seventh-graders and high-schoolers have relevant opinions — probably fresher and more honest that the conflict-ridden opinions of us old timers.

  6. Thanks Aaron!
    In Australia they are using tiger pooh as a pest repellent. That I wouldn’t want to collect either!

    I thought the increased number of hawks around town would help with the squirrels? What kind of owl are you thinking? I’d be all for it!

  7. Jocko– Not at all. Kids opinions certainly are important. That’s why we spend so much time and energy on things like the soccer park, ice rink, water park, schools etc… It’s just that their opinions come from a different prospective and should not be mixed up with the adult opinions. The fact that their opinions were not voluntary and part of a selective class assignment is another factor that distorts getting the true pulse of our youth. I was in school once and remember how I would have treated this assignment, “squirrels are cool they eat the old man’s tomatoes so I don’t have to”.

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