WIFE JUDY'S PERSPECTIVE
On the 5th of May 2016 it was 24 years since my wife Judy died; I am going to write this for her; St. Marie could not have happened without her.
*Written in Judy Kelly's perspective.
Is St. Marie truly lost? Did the people we built St. Marie for really destroy its chances again? We never once talked about how much money we would make if we were successful in building St. Marie. If money had been the goal we would never have been able to do it, we did it out of commitment, and I must say it seemed easy, even with every obstacle you can imagine blocking our way; it seemed easy because we did it together and we did it in an atmosphere of love, love for each other and those who came here to St. Marie.
Look at the website on St. Marie and look at the video of the miracle of St. Marie and the beautiful people you see; pilots, high ranking officers/enlisted and professional people who could afford to live anywhere. People would come to us and say, "What is it about this place, we have never been happier."
Pat and I were silent partners in the salvage company that got the bid; it consisted of Terry, my brother, and Jim, Pat's brother. Janie, my sister, was married to Pat's brother Jim. They were going to move the first 200 units to east Helena where there was a strong demand, but GSA pulled the financing. Rumor was that a town father had influence and was able to get the financing pulled. Our brothers were going to lose all they had put in and friends of ours who also had invested would be hurt. Pat said no to bankruptcy and we needed to pay everyone back; he also felt the homes should stay and be a benefit to the community.
I follow my man; we lived all over the world, seven and a half years in the Far East, and three years in Europe. We spent time in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei; we scuba dove in the China Sea and enjoyed each other and raising our children. In Europe we had a motor home and traveled constantly and had Pat's parents visit for six weeks and went all through Europe and to England and Ireland; when his parents were 16 they had talked of some day of going to Ireland, they enjoyed it so much and so did we. We traveled over 5,000 miles and four ferry trips in our motor home in those six weeks.
When we retired from the Air Force our plan was to go to the best art school we could find for three years then back to Europe, a year in Florence a year in Paris. We would then be 48-years old and go back to Helena, to God's Mountain; which Pat just sold and put the funds into our beloved St. Marie. Well, we did the art school in Pasadena, Calif., overlooking the Rose Bowl for three years, but all of the rest of it had to wait and I followed my man to the former Glasgow AFB. Pat said we would give it two years to build a Military Retirement Community; that was okay, it was a good cause, and whatever we did together we enjoyed.
Of course two years was not realistic with opposition. Pat fought everyone for many years; Glasgow wanted the water coming to the base and one County Official made the statement he would stop us. Well, there were many miracles, or you can call them coincidences, over the years and St. Marie was a total success.
Many times during those years Pat would ask Valley County for assistance and would be refused, "we cannot do that because it would set precedence." Pat would respond that well anyone else who owns 1,200 homes and is creating hundreds of jobs do the same for them. They finally did make an exception that they applied only to us; in 1992 they raised our taxes approximately 1,000 percent.
We have no regrets, we built something so very special and if it had not been for the 1,000 percent increase in taxes the golf course would be complete, the bowling alley and restaurants would still be at St. Marie and all the amenities we had then would have grown to many more and every building occupied by quality people and Valley County would have a hundred million dollar tax base and hundreds of more jobs with additional school programs etc. We gave up our personal goals of art, travel and time with family to build St. Marie and it was worth it.
We created hundreds of jobs for our beloved Eastern Montana and millions of dollars in tax revenue for Valley County and named a town St. Marie which has much meaning for us.
Pat has been working full time behind the scenes for many years for St. Marie and will continue to work towards a beautiful productive St. Marie we can all be proud of. A local religious minister told us when we came to Glasgow that there was a black cloud over the area, actions like the 1,000 percent increase in taxes and all the obstacles we overcame indicate that could be true; if not why is Pat being fought by all even now?
God Bless! - Judy Kelly
Fast forward from the successful St. Marie and the 1,000 percent increase in taxes the subsequent sale and the Terry Parks bankruptcy. I came back to St. Marie after I saw someone trying to put St. Marie Development Corp. into another bankruptcy, someone who had liens and could take over the stockholders property. I have now spent another ten years fighting and a million dollars to bring St. Marie back. To have any possibility to develop St. Marie the inventory of homes must be under one entity to be able to control marketing and pricing. So I put together a package with Century 21 that consolidated 446 units owned by OCI a financial group; I got rid of the liens by giving a judgment in return for good title on their properties. The C21 broker says she had opportunities to sell the package but the quiet title was not accomplished to get good title on property and OCI got tired of waiting and was going to auction off their units, so the opportunity passed by.
So again to make St. Marie marketable the properties had to be consolidated for price control and marketing. So, I purchased the 446 OCI units with a personal not, they rightfully knew without consolidation and quiet title the property had no value as collateral. I then made trades and was able to consolidate properties both single story and two-story homes. I then went proudly with my major accomplishment to the Valley County Commissioners and showed them that I had been able to consolidate the inventory and basically had over 500 units free and clear except for taxes and asked them for options and assistance on the outstanding taxes. I told them I needed time to do a quiet title. I had all these assets, but unable to sell anything to pay the taxes because of title problems. I needed a window of six months to do a quiet title and then could sell homes and get financing and easily pay the taxes due. I do believe in the black cloud that the religious minister had said existed filled the room it was like "we stopped you once, why are you back?" Commissioner Pippen told me I did not need a quiet title and the people of St. Marie did not want a quiet title. I said I would like to brief each of them separately on the facts and benefits of a successful St. Marie and was denied.
Can county commissioners use their power to punish a tax payer like that; and for what purpose? Is it a political thing? I am against abortion and do want to promote a Christian Community that is based on helping others.
What could the possible reason be for the animosity toward me, or is it animosity toward St. Marie? What is the reason the leadership of Valley County is not promoting job creation and greater tax base has been against the development of St. Marie?
The truth is that you store owners, religious groups, teachers and school officials and all residents of Valley County have a say. How many stores would be closed without the 500 shoppers of St. Marie, how many haircuts, tax returns and new car purchases have been made in the last 20 years? When I first went to the Valley County Commissioners, many years ago, one of the commissioners said he was not concerned about developing St. Marie, "most of the tax money would just go to the schools."
How much support would there be in a rural community anywhere in the country for hundreds of jobs and a $100 million tax base? And the situation here with St. Marie is that if it does not grow it will be a super problem forever, a black blotch in Valley County attracting people with many problems who have no choice except in a $20,000 house and $200 rent. That is a fact; analyze yourself, if there are 400 homes for sale or rent by 30 different owners and only 20 people looking what would the prices be.
We are at a crossroads today where all can be lost; the inventory can be dismantled to the point where there is no chance for success. St. Marie cannot be developed if the community does not find a way to assist. The individual who came in with Terry Parks could destroy any chance we have and the county commissioners need to be open to briefings and help design a plan for development. St. Marie Development had to declare a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to save the Chapel and also the Library/Post Office.
I am encouraged with the new president of the Two Rivers Growth; she is a doer and a motivator and hopefully an avenue where people can get involved. She has a solid board made up of Commissioner Bruce Peterson, Glasgow Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, a school system representative, and many business owners and others interested in the welfare of our community. I identify with the rural people who want jobs for their children so they can stay close and also their concern for more school programs, hopefully many of them will get involved. It is my responsibility to brief them all on the urgency and importance of getting involved; their input and leadership is required.
Sincerely, Pat Kelly