Boulder area residents last week turned out to welcome their newest neighbors — the Montana Highway Patrol.
The MHP sponsored a meet and greet event April 22 at Volunteer Hall at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, along with refreshments, to get acquainted with members of the community.
“We’re here to say thanks for coming. Welcome to the community. Thank you,” said Boulder Mayor Rusty Giulio.
Montana Highway Patrol Col. Steve Lavin said his agency was “super excited” to make the move, as it had long ago outgrown its headquarters in Helena.
The MHP will move in early summer to the former Montana Development Center campus in Boulder. The north campus, as it is known, has been vacant for years, and city and Jefferson County leaders have worked to find ways to reuse the facility. However, this use came as a surprise — and has moved rather quickly through the legislative process, with Gov. Greg Gianforte signing off on the transfer of the property from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice on April 12.
The MHP will initially occupy the former MDC administration building, which will provide four times the space that the agency currently occupies in Helena. The campus also has other buildings available.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who attended the event, credited the idea to move to Boulder to his chief deputy, Kris Hansen, who had been familiar with the closing of MDC when she served in the Legislature.
“I’m amazed we got this done as quickly as we did. The stars just aligned,” said Knudsen.
Lavin complimented the “beautiful” MDC facility and said he envisions many uses for the campus, from multiple trooper academies, regional training events, graduations and more.
“Lots of potential,” he said.
Boulder and Jefferson County leaders and residents have been equally enthusiastic about the move.
“The overall reception has been amazing,” said Knudsen.