By Ed Moreth 

End of the holiday season


January 5, 2023

Ed Moreth

Ben Miller of NorthWestern Energy hands a Christmas tree ornament to Steve Spurr, president of the Plains Lions Club. The two removed the club decorations along Railroad Street on Sunday.

It's almost an unofficial end to the holiday season when the Plains Lions Club retrieves its Christmas ornaments from Railroad Street.

Steve Spurr, the club president, and Ben Miller of NorthWestern Energy spent just over an hour taking down the 28 ornaments on Sunday. Miller volunteered the company bucket truck to reach each ornament some 25 feet high on poles in downtown Plains, then handed each one to Spurr, who set them aside for club member Rick Powers to retrieve. They were done stowing the materials at City Hall by 11 a.m.

Club members put up the decorations the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, people saw 16 new ornaments - seven trees, seven candles and two bells. Spurr had stripped them to the metal frames and installed new LED lights, new wiring and new garland, doing the trees in January and February and the candles and bells in October and November. It took him between two to four hours for each of the ornaments, which ranged from about four to six feet tall.

Donations from community members help the club to repair and replace the ornaments in an effort to continue lighting main street for the holidays. Alvin Amundson, a long time Lions member who presently resides in Missoula, donated $1,000 last year and three years ago Plains resident Kathy Warrington donated $5,000 for the decorations. Spurr said they plan to repair three snowflakes and three candy cane ornaments this year and will redo the 24-foot long happy holiday banner, which is placed across the east side of Plains.

"I'll put new bows on the wreaths and add new gold and red garland to the bushy trees," said Spurr, a Lions member for seven years and president for the last four. The club added a candle, a Christmas tree and a wreath along South Willis Street this past holiday season. Miller has helped put up and take down the ornaments for two years and considers it a way to give back to the community. "Everybody likes Christmas lights, but somebody's got to put them up," said Miller. Justin Martin of NorthWestern Energy installed brackets in November. Spurr said he'd like to put up a few along Rittenour Street in front of Plains School. "The plan is to try and find old ones that need to be rebuilt and add more around town," said Spurr.

"What I enjoy the most is hearing how people love seeing them redone and the joy it brings them," said Spurr. "Most don't even know how they are maintained, but that's not why I do it. I'm getting older now, having my own kids, and when I look back to when I was a kid I remember our town lights we had in Indiana, and it's a happy memory. I want to pass that joy on to other people, especially kids," he said.

Decorating the town at Christmastime is only one of the community projects for the Plains Lions Club. In the spring, they conduct an Easter Egg Hunt and in October, they host a Halloween costume contest and hot dog roast. "Those are memories made for people that are life long. Some day those people who were kids will remember how much fun it was and maybe some of those people will be inspired to want to help their community in some way," he said.

"The big thing the Lions Club does is eye exams and helping folks in need with purchasing eye glasses," said Spurr. "We go to every school in the county and use our equipment that checks their eyes. It refers children if they need to see an optometrist. Studies have found that if caught early enough and corrected soon, sometimes children then don't need glasses long term," he added.

The club has 10 members - seven men and three women - but is always looking for new members. The club is a non-political and nonpartisan group and usually meets on the first Monday of the month, though it is in a dormant stage in January, February and March. Those interested in joining the club or donating funds can contact Spurr at 826-3510 or contact the club through its Facebook page.

Spurr hopes that the impact the club has is to inspire others to want to be involved in the community individually or in a community club. "The sad thing is that every club is hurting for members," said Spurr, who feels that the younger generation is more social media involved and less hands-on activities. "Most folks I talk to are sayers and not doers. If anything that we do can inspire one person to want to get out and help their community, that's a win."


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