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There was a brief snippet in the Independent Record today about a Lewis and Clark couny growth planning meeting that caught my attention. The contentious topic? Outdoor advertising.

I definitely agree with the board members, who argued that signage in Helena is distracting and drives away tourists. I’ve often thought that, for a town built on summer tourism dollars and some quite interesting attractions downtown, it’s a tragedy that every entrance into the community is just like every other small town urban sprawl of obnoxious signs and lights.

It’s just hard to imagine that evening travelers would stay long in Helena, because the outskirts suggest a town that consists entirely of casinos and bars, all lit in hideous neon. As chair Marshall Gingery said, “All they tell me is, ‘How fast can I get to the next town to see something?”

Efforts to rebrand Helena aren’t going to bring more tourists? Does anyone even remember The West’s Learning Center for the Arts? Google certainly doesn’t. Making Helena appear like an attractive, unusual, and historical location—from the edges of the town in—just might.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Leota Estey
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Andre Menges
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