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Lockwood School District
The Lockwood School District will develop an empty field near the new middle school after receiving a $75,000 grant.

Flush with $75,000, the Lockwood School District is celebrating Christmas early.

The district received the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant Monday during a special presentation ceremony in its board room — complete with an oversized novelty check.

“We want to leave with this with you,” Walter Timmerman, recreation bureau chief for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks division, said with a laugh. “You can’t cash it, but you can frame it.”

While the grant is federal, it’s administered in Montana by FWP. The school district will use the money to build a softball park, walking track and playground in one of its open fields, all of which will be used by the district and the public.

“This school is the heart of our community,” said Sue Vinton, board chairwoman. “This grant is going to go a long way toward helping our children and our families.”

Competition for the grant was light. Only Lockwood and one other group applied for the $75,000. The grant committee chose Lockwood because of a well-written grant application and the district’s financial health, Timmerman said.

In order to qualify for the $75,000, the district had to have a matching amount in the bank. Trustees said they had no trouble reserving the funds so they could apply.

“It’s hard to turn (free money) down,” Vinton said

Officials at the district see the gift as a boon that’s as much for the community as it is for the school.

“It’s such a hub for Lockwood,” Jason Hamrick, a trustee, said of the school.

Vinton agreed. She said Lockwood – with a community softball league and other groups who would benefit from the project – should have nice facilities and a welcoming park.  If the school can play a role, even better, she said.

Timmerman said schools have a vital role in bringing open spaces to towns and cities.

“If we don’t have recreation sites at our schools, we won’t have them anywhere,” Timmerman said.

Contact Rob Rogers at or at 406-657-1231.