It appears that Helena no longer will be the Montana home base for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who announced this week that he and wife will build a home in Bozeman.
The home is expected to be completed in 2014, which is also the year Baucus will learn if he’s been re-elected to his seventh six-year term in the Senate. It’s also an opportunity for Baucus and his wife, Melodee Hanes, who married in July 2011, to start a new chapter in their lives in Bozeman while enjoying the outdoor opportunities there.
Baucus said that although he’s moving from Helena, Montana really is one big small town and everyone is still neighbors.
“We will always have strong roots in Helena and Wolf Creek and it truly was the best place on earth to grow up,” Baucus said. “The lessons I learned on the ranch shape what I do every day.
“While we’ll miss living by our neighbors in Helena, we’ll still be spending a lot of time there visiting family, friends and taking time to listen to community members.”
A spokesman for Baucus added that Bozeman also is a good fit because of its close proximity to I-90 and he get just about anywhere in the state in only a few hours to meet with constituents.
City officials said while they’ll miss having the senator in town during Congressional breaks, they wish him well and still expect to see him in his hometown occasionally. Even though his mother passed away in December 2011, the family home is still in Helena and his brother still runs the Sieben Ranch Company in the Helena valley, started by their great-grandfather in 1897.
“Obviously Helena would love to have him stay here, but we wish him well,” said Cathy Burwell, executive director of the Helena Chamber of Commerce. “Of course, he will always be a Helenan at heart and he would be the first to tell you that.”
Mayor Jim Smith also sent warm wishes to Baucus and his wife.
“I do hate to see him go,” Smith said. “I’ve been to his house on Power Street a couple of times for functions. He and his wife are really gracious.”
Baucus also is expected to return often to Helena since his only son, Zeno, recently moved into the family home after taking a job with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana. He previously was an attorney for a private firm in Washington, D.C., and is expected to focus now on border crimes.