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Falstad Column: West End prepares for openings
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Construction isn't completed yet on the second mini-mall in front of the Heights Wal-Mart, but tenants are signing up.

Clint Lunde, a 20-year veteran of United Parcel Service, is opening a UPS franchise store on the north end of the mini-mall at the corner of Wicks Lane and Main Street.

Three years ago, UPS bought out Mail Boxes Etc. The shipping giant put its name on the mail box stores and franchised them. Now there are 4,500 UPS Stores in 40 countries.

After working as a UPS manager all over Montana and Wyoming, plus Chicago and Denver, Lunde retired, sort of. Now he's scrambling to open a business.

"We're not sure of the opening date, yet, we're shooting for the second week of November," Lunde said. "Apparently, they only need three weeks to do the inside or tenant improvement."

Phil Taylor, a broker with Real Estate By Hamway, handled the lease and said the UPS Store will be a real good asset for the development.

There is already one UPS Store in Billings.

In April, Rick Williams and his wife, Betty Williams, bought the West End Mail Boxes Etc. store at 1302 S. 24th St. West by Thompson Pools. The couple converted it to the UPS Store the next week.

"Business is absolutely fantastic. I had it down on my list to give you a call in April, but we were too busy," Rick Williams said laughingly.

The Klein Group out of Coldwater, Mich., is building the mini-mall by Wal-Mart at the corner of Main Street and Wicks Lane.

The first mini-mall housing Payless Shoes is to the north of Del Taco and sits in front of the Big Box.

Another Heights move Yellowstone Teachers Credit Union at 1111 S. 24th St. West is opening its first branch in the Heights at 895 Main St. next to Dennis Clymore Insurance Agency.

Larry Tompkins, Yellowstone Teachers president, said the move will improve customer service.

"We like to think we're all tech-oriented and Internet oriented but there's nothing like a handshake and a warm smile when you consummate a deal," Tompkins said.

The Hop revisited At one of his auctions last June, Herm Elenbaas, owner of Elenbaas Media Inc., handed out about $200 worth of coupons for meals at The Hop Drive-Inn.

The 1950s drive-inn at 1313 Central Ave. was demolished in July and now Elenbaas is fielding the calls.

"Now we're hearing back from people who have those coupons and are unavailable to them because they can't find the place," Elenbaas said.

In July, Hop owner Dan Klahn said he was remodeling the former Insty Prints space at 114 N. 27th St. next to Jake's restaurant. Klahn planned on opening a downtown diner and ice cream parlor.

But that deal has fallen through and his home phone number has been disconnected.

The building on North 27th is owned by architect Harrison Fagg, who was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Other sources said Klahn hired a contractor who started demolishing the space, then left town. One person said that Klahn and Fagg couldn't come to terms on the lease.

Another tenant is apparently close to finalizing a lease on the Insty Print building.

In the meantime, The Hop is no more, so owners of those coupons will have to pay for burgers elsewhere.

Elenbass Media owns KURL and KMZK Christian radio stations and the Tidbits newsletter.

Storage units- Hi Ho Homestead Self Storage is grading land at 3300 Central Ave. and putting in sewer, water and the like for its second storage unit project in Billings.

This storage complex eventually could max out at 500 units in a handful of buildings.

"It will be a great looking facility with good landscaping," Randy Harvey said. He is one of the owners of the family run enterprise.

Homestead Self Storage has other units at 450 S. 20th St. W.

Laughs and sighs For a laugh, look at the real ballot for California's recall election for governor Tuesday.

If you can get your hands on it, the "Official Sample Ballot and Voter Instructions" booklet for California's latest election drama makes for interesting reading. As a former political reporter and poli sci major at the University of Minnesota, I found it a fascinating read and, perhaps an unsettling glimpse of future ballots.

A Gazette editor, whose daughter attends college in the Sunshine State, got his hands on a ballot.

Instructions are printed in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese and, if you need one, in English.

The booklet runs 19 pages, counting the covers. The seminal question "Yes" or "No" of recalling Gov. Gray Davis takes up 1/5th of one page.

The list of candidates salivating to replace him runs eight pages, including two ballots questions. Candidates aren't listed alphabetically. Apparently, they can be ordered differently in the various precincts.

Above the list of wanna-be's are clear instructions on each page for the voters to "vote for only one candidate for governor."

There are even graphics showing how to punch your ballot correctly. This includes how-to instructions about removing any "hanging chads" from the back of the ballot, so your vote won't be disqualified.

Last, but not least: On the front cover in a blue oval, is this warning: "Voter Alert!!! Your poll location may have changed (see back cover)."

Thoughts "There's a big difference between being correct and being right." —Source unknown

Jan Falstad can be contacted at (406) 657-1306 or at

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