Sales, dances, flea market raise money for Hysham pool

HYSHAM—In this Yellowstone River town 75 miles east of Billings, residents have learned how to get things done on a shoestring.

When the town’s 60-year-old swimming pool started leaking—as much as 1,000 gallons a day before it was closed last summer—supporters of a new pool got to work.

In the past two years, they have raised half of their $160,000 goal by throwing a harvest dance, a New Year’s dance, bingo games, a burrito breakfast and bake sales.

“Bake sales at the post office go very well,” Janet Jensen said. “People flock in there.”

Another important source of funding has been the Junque Store on Hysham’s main drag, just across the street and down half a block from the town landmark, the Yucca Theatre.


Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

Visitors to the Junque Store in Hysham are greeted by the guitar-playing Pancho. He also collects donations in a spitoon near his feet.

Located in what used to be Jenkins Mercantile and then a succession of grocery stores until the last one closed five years ago, the flea market opens for the summer season on May 2 and will be open every other Saturday from 9 to 1. If volunteers are working there at any other time, however, they won’t turn shoppers away.

Since the store opened a year ago, sales of donated merchandise have raised $12,000 toward construction of the pool. The Pool People, as the committee leading the fund drive is called, was charged with raising half the pool’s total cost of $320,000.

The committee can also add donated labor as part of its in-kind donations. Treasure County commissioners agreed to put up the other $160,000. The pool has been under construction since last summer and backers hope to be able to open it by June 1.

“The community has really been behind the project,” said Ruth Baker, like Jensen a volunteer at the Junque Store.

Hysham has a population of about 200, with 70 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The young people are the biggest users of the pool, Baker said, but it’s popular with all age groups.

People have been good about donating goods to the store and good about buying what’s there. As Baker said, it’s almost more of a “redistribution store” than a flea market.

The store, which is closed in the winter because it has no heat, has clothes, dishes, books, Christmas ornaments, televisions, household utensils and “most every kind of furniture you can think of,” Baker said.

In addition to buying things from the store, volunteer Bonnie Steiger said, people kick in contributions another way: “What happens is, people don’t make us make change.”

Steiger said people from Forsyth have even stopped in to make donations to the store. For more information on contributing to the pool fund, or donating merchandise to the store, call Steiger at 406-342-5487.

Donations can also be sent to Stockman Bank, Box 426, Hysham, Montana, 59038. Make checks out to “Pool Fund.”

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