PABLO — Many pedestrians might recall the public scoping meetings that precipitated the design of the Highway 93 pedestrian overpass. Then Tribal Health Director, Kevin Howlett, called for a “Native design for the overpass.” Howlett called for “a Native theme to blend with the land, using local materials to construct it.” His call for the Native based design came after the Montana Department of Transportation scoping meetings and its presentation of the proposed bland cookie cutter design of the pedestrian overpass that linked Salish Kootenai College and the tribal complex.
Following the successful re-design effort, when federal stimulus funds were made available to the state for shovel ready projects, the Native design US 93 overpass got the green light.
The iconic tribal overpass design which was supported by both the tribal and non-tribal public, was later recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Montana with the State 2012 Engineering Excellence Honor Award. This same overpass design was submitted by the State of Montana for national recognition, and it won the single National Recognition Award.
The contributing factors in the national award were the tribal influenced design elements, especially the tepee pole accents. Since that time, other tribes have sought advice about the pedestrian overpass and how to create a landmark corridor for tribal government(s) sites.
Salish Kootenai College considered the same perspective in the design and construction of a new LED sign which will mark the entrance to the college campus. It will be located on the corner of Silver Fox Lane and Highway 93 on the southwest corner of the old Joe’s Jiffy Stop parking lot.
The Joe’s building is planned to be demolished before fall.
SKC’s Chief Information Officer, Al Anderson, and his team have overseen all project details for the last year including development of the design by Mike Lozar, who heads SKC Marketing efforts.
“The sign will allow for immediate and responsive messaging as it is controlled via cloud-based software,” Anderson said. It will provide a vital service to SKC students and community with live alerts. The sign is envisioned as a way to communicate effectively and efficiently with students regarding critical SKC information and emergency alerts like closures, fire events, on campus emergency events, weather alerts, and more.
The sign will be a 32 ft. x 18 ft. LED sign double sided. The support structure will be in the shape of a flattened tepee with the poles being 14 in. diameter metal pipes. The tepee support structure will be 65 ft. tall and 45 ft. wide.
Above the LED sign will be the SKC Charging Bison logo along with Salish Kootenai College. There will be streamers on the top of the poles and also hanging down from the signs. This will be one of the larger LED signs in Montana and may become a landmark entrance to the college campus.
Antony Berthelote, SKC Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, lauded the digital messaging capacity of the sign for “clear, relevant, and timely student communications.”
“It is sometimes difficult to reach every student about campus events, activities, closures, important deadlines, and student opportunities such as scholarships and internships,” Berthelote said. “The digital messaging will greatly improve our ability to reach our students, particularly in an ever-increasing digital world.”
Look for the charging bison sign on Highway 93 in Pablo in the near future.