New business provides a blessing for a small community

Dear Editor, This severe winter has been affecting the Grass Range area for four months, and has brought many hardships with it. It has made me ponder life in a rural, isolated town like this, and what has helped to make it bearable. Since the road conditions were treacherous for so long, it was a huge blessing to have local businesses and the people who kept them open to supply some of our needs. Besides having the Little Montana Truckstop, the Chuckwagon Cafe and the Wrangler Bar, I am very grateful for the new general store called The Ole Merc. Thanks be to Deb and James Degner for putting so much time, energy and money into the old gas station and providing a store for us when we can’t travel over the pass. It is a huge help when we can’t get to a pharmacy, a hardware store, need medicine or feed for our animals, or must find some groceries to cook supper. How wonderful it is that we can get some of these items right here. While shopping at this welcoming store, we are able to sit a while and visit in a seating area, enjoy a soft serve cone or mocha, and check the news using WiFi. Available also are many Montana-made products from the locals. Deb has encouraged many to set them up in a display and as their products sell, it puts more income into our local economy. The Degners did not quit with remodeling The Ole Merc, they also invested in a full restaurant and bar on the other side of the building, along with a community room. The room has hosted parties, receptions and events like the craft show last year. They have also helped provide jobs for many of the locals. It started with construction workers and then store clerks, cafe managers, wait staff, bartenders and cooks. Above the cafe, they completed a couple of apartments, adding more housing available to our area. They also made available a spot for Ahlgren Feeds to open a location. People like the Degners are the ones who give a small town a chance to survive, instead of fading away. There is not much we can do to show how much they are appreciated, except to patronize their businesses so they can continue to serve the community. Thank you so much, James and Deb Degner, for all you have done for our town and its citizens. Jeannie Walter Grass Range

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