Montana State University-Northern has announced it has been gifted a parcel of 43 acres at the west-end of Havre.
Currently held under the stewardship of the MSU-Northern Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm of the University, the gift comes from the family of Ron and Patty Harmon, also of Havre, whose intent is that the property be used for future projects or buildings as deemed by the university.
“This is an amazing gift by the Harmons to help us establish future opportunities for our Northern students,” said Northern Chancellor Greg Kegel. “The Harmon family has always been strong supports of the Hi-Line, Havre, and Northern and we are so thankful for this tremendous gift.”
Kegel has mentioned in recent meetings his goal is using the property for a new equine facility.
Ron Harmon, owner of Big Equipment, praised that proposal.
“Our family wants to support Kegel’s vision for the equine program and are happy we are able to provide property here in Havre that will make an impact to Northern.”
Foundation Executive Director Shantel Cronk said the center will help show what Northern is doing.
“Just within three miles of the Northern campus, it’s visible from the highway and railroad,” she said. “A large arena will emphasize to those traveling through Havre that they are in the home of Northern.
“We just can’t thank the Harmons enough for their generosity,” Cronk added.
The land, which was previously part of Harmon Properties LLC, is located just to the south of U.S. Highway 2, off of Second Street West. It is virgin land that has never been developed.
Kegel said at a Great Northern Fair Board meeting in February that Northern has been looking into building an equine center for almost 10 years, with the intent to provide the center and also create a minor in equestrian studies. He said Northern has talked to other universities with degrees in equestrian studies and has determined it wants to create a minor based primarily on the study of Western horse stock. He has previously said the intent is to extend on and complement equine studies programs at Montana State University in Bozeman and University of Montana Western in Dillon.
He said at Tuesday’s meeting that the program has drawn a large amount of interest from Northern’s student body, not just the students involved in Northern’s rodeo teams but across the spectrum of students.
The donation of land came about from Kegel sharing his desire to build an equestrian program at Northern.
Harmon said he and his wife embraced the concept and provided the land for the project.
Kegel said he sees this not only as a chance for Northern to benefit from this project, but the entire Hi-Line.
“Our goal is to continue to evolve Northern and its opportunities to support our students and in turn support our community,” he said. “This type of structure could be used for many different things from conversions to car shows to rodeos. It could truly be the type of enclosed event center we’re missing in Havre.”
The MSU-Northern Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that acts as a fundraising arm of Northern.