Hi, I am Pat Kelly the founder of St. Marie and am changing this web site to tell the tragic story of St. Marie instead of using the site to promote people coming here. I pulled the Front Page of the web site because St. Marie is not a place you would want to come at this time, it has been destroyed. Please view the 1996 video below of the St. Marie that you would have loved to live at. Go to the other Web pages (Most just works in progress at this time), this is a tremendous story, a tragic story, a story about the damage selfish controlling people can do. This is a story you can learn from.
Some History - Former Glasgow AFB (Newest AFB, last one built, longest runway.)
The Federal Government spent 10's of millions of dollars trying to find a use for the facilities at the former Glasgow AFB and after many years gave up.
Valley County received the runway and commercial buildings at no cost, except to provide water to the housing.
The Federal Government auctioned off the 1223 housing units at an international auction in 1985. The top three bidders on the property were all salvage companies.
All was lost, all the housing would be salvaged which would leave the runway and commercial buildings with little or no value.
So, absolutely no tax base – no tax income to Valley County; just an eye sore and an embarrassment, no income ever.
Wait, the salvage company that was top bidder could not get their financing and had built up debt and was giving up and ready to declare bankruptcy. A silent partner, Patrick Kelly and his wife Judy, decided it was not right to not pay the people who had tried to help. They decided to give up their plans of going to Europe for the next two years to complete Pat's art training, and put those two years at Glasgow.
They went to Glasgow with the thought that would get a positive response and told the County Commissioner of Valley County that they were going to try to build a military retirement community utilizing the housing at the former AB; there was a lot of laughter, not only from the commissioners, but all who heard the couples plans.
As I said before, the Federal Government had spent 10s of millions on new heating systems etc and many different programs that were federally funded but could not produce anything that could sustain a job base or would last. Now this little couple with almost no funding was going to do what? Yes everyone was very amused. Not only were they amused, unknown to Pat and Judy, the locals did not want to have anyone to develop at the former AB. The city of Glasgow needed the water system. The city of Glasgow was asked by the Air Force when the water system was put in if they wanted put in a link to Glasgow; the city made the decision not to and said no. The deep wells at Glasgow were depleted in the mid 1980's and now they needed the water. It is said that the County Attorney even made the statement he would stop them; not that anyone was actually concerned at the beginning that the little couple had a chance to accomplish what they were attempting.
When the Kelly's drove into the Air Base for the first time there was alfalfa and weed growing in the streets and there were only four families living in 1223 homes. What were they thinking? The vision of an entrepreneur is an awesome thing, especially if it is linked with the thought of doing something for a higher cause.
They did some unique things, actually unheard of; they got a loan from five credit unions to pay off GSA for the housing with a "few" extra dollars to renovate a few homes and market. They named their new community St. Marie, after the daughter they lost in Misawa, Japan and the Virgin Mary. (The reason I am back is that I cannot let a little city named "St. Marie" be a dump - expecially if it was created a dump by a "Black Cloud."
The Kellys said they would give it two years; it took them over two years just to get the property surveyed and a plat filed for condominiums.
With limited amount of funds the Kellys advertised in the Military Times and people started coming to look at St. Marie, they came from Germany, the Philippines, Alaska, Florida, NY, and just about every other state. The first people who came stayed with the Kelly's as a bed and breakfast situation and sales started to happen and people had no doubt they were investing in a lifestyle and a project that would be successful. Again, it is important to note that this was done with no local market and limited funding and local opposition – the situation today has a limited local market and the web would make it very easy to get the word out. (It can be done again, easier than before, with good title and a consolidation of the inventory. The situation could be positive, originally, when people came as a result of national advertising and wanted a home the developer got the sale because the title was good and he owned all the homes. Today the title needs a quiet title and the County and the Econ Development people and the Chamber need to push back at the "Black Cloud" and assist to make a successful St. Marie. Most small rural communities would work night and day for 10 or 20 jobs, St. Marie is a thousand plus with a 100 million tax base; and the alternative is a dilapidated community that only people out dire necessity would live in, bringing in unwanted type individuals.
More History, Boeing decided they would purchase the runway and the County holdings, but they did not want the responsibility of the water treatment plant. This fit in well with the Glasgow's need for the water system. They wanted to force St. Marie to go to deep wells and let Boeing come to Valley County. The local economic development group stated on the front page of the local paper, if they had to decide between St. Marie or Boeing they would go with Boeing; even though, Boeing said their plans were to just utilize the runway, which is what they have done for the last 20 years.
Groups of people from Glasgow started to descend on the residents of St. Marie to convince them to go to the AB deep wells and that the water was of good quality; this was only one of many falsehoods, the water in the Air Base wells was worse than Glasgow's water. Kelly fought back and reminded everyone that the water came with the purchase of the housing; he was threatened and one even said he would kill Pat's dog. Kelly remained firm and Boeing did came in and took over the water treatment plant and Glasgow got a water line link to Glasgow.
St. Marie was a tremendous success; it had three restaurants, a golf course a third complete with a beautiful club house which contained a health club, beauty/barber shop, gift shop and sales offices. It had a bowling alley with leagues that was popular throughout the region. (St. Marie should have had a VA Hospital at the AF Base Hospital if the leadership had not killed the project at the last minute by saying that the County might not be able to give good title to the VA; another major falsehood. Instead of the beautiful Base Hospital in perfect condition the town offered a vacant lot of land in Glasgow they knew had no chance of bring the VA facility to the area. The VA Hospital went to Glendive and so did the 75 jobs that should have came to the Glasgow area. The VA Hospital would have secured the success of St. Marie and created 75 jobs in addition to the 1000 plus jobs for Glasgow. Is it not the responsibility of a city to pay for the water system that provides water to their community; can a city steal from a developer or a adjacent community. It seems they can try and in so doing lose lose thousands of jobs, tremendous tax base and even a VA Hospital. How many people were involved in conspiring to take the water system away from the community. The County received the Air Base with the obligation to provide water to the community in perpituity. The County did not live up to their responsibility and now and are still working to kill St. Marie. Who is the leadership, "Black Cloud" that runs these people?
The County although they had put up roadblocks in the past finally got involved, they raised the taxes on the Kelly's by one thousand percent (1,000%); you read it right a thousand percent; from $700 a month to $7,000 a month. This was in 1992, the property that had been purchased at $480,000 had been taxed at 1.2 million (Over twice the original purchase price) was now assessed at 12 million dollars (30 times the purchase price). An important note here is that with the 1,000% increase in taxes the County stopped growth and today even with inflation they are currently collecting taxes on less than 5 million value 20 years later.
If the taxes had not shut down St. Marie, Valley County would have a 100 million dollar tax base and hundreds of jobs and be one of the most affluent Counties in Montana with a similar population; and quality people at the same time. This is the legacy that Judy and Pat Kelly left for Valley County and saved from the Salvage Companies.
An example of how the tax increase impacted the values at St. Marie, the homes at St. Marie were selling for more than those at a nearby town, Fort Peck, and currently the homes at Fort Peck are selling between $135,000 and $175,000; St. Marie homes are selling in the $20,000 range and few takers, who wants to live in a dump with no leadership and the people do not want growth.
Yes, the local leadership trashed St. Marie for their own agenda, whatever that was, I know their original plan was to salvage it and take the water.
I am sure that people who read this can hardly believe what they have read; well continue reading other sections of the web site, this was mild, what they have done in the last few years is really treacherous. Who are they? Who would stop St. Marie coming back again? I will be using the term "Black Cloud." I was told by a local Minister 25 years ago that there was a black cloud over Glasgow. I believe it, and will use that term to indicate the Evil, Greed, Self Serving Control, Narcissism, "Big Fish in a Little Pond" – all this BULL has probably gone on way before I came here. People in Glasgow have felt helpless. An individual, when I was struggling years back, Ray Pehlke a furniture store owner had the guts to at least tell me he wanted to help but could not because "He would be Punished." I am positive Ray, who passed away years ago, will be jumping up and down with joy if these people who continue to harm his community are exposed.
If you did not look at the 1996 video do so now - This community should be over 3000 strong with all the amenities of a small city to include a golf course, club house with swimming pool. bowling alley with leagues, a VA hospital. St. Marie had a happy loving attomospher that all felt, it was truly blessed.
Please read more articles, there is a lesson to be learned here.