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John S. Cowan of Kalispell and Polson passed on March 11, 2019. John was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, on March 7, 1937, to John D. Cowan and Elizabeth Fowler Cowan. The family soon moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and subsequently in 1949 to Stamford, Connecticut. He attended the Hotchkiss School where he met lifelong friend and Polson resident Chuck Jarecki. A graduate of Middlebury College, John received an Master of Science in Accounting degree from the University of Wyoming.

John owned and served as CEO and Chief Fiscal Officer of two post-secondary and proprietary schools: Wyoming Technical Institute (1970-1977) and Bryman School (1977-1996). For 20 years, John consulted as a certified public accountant auditor for Title IV student financial aid programs at post-secondary educational institutions. Of particular note, he consulted to the U.S. Department of Justice and was admitted as an expert witness for the prosecution of educational institutions for misuse of student assistance funds.

Upon moving to Polson, John continued his consulting practice in the areas of education, new business development, accounting and the administration of nonprofit organization. He advised the work of the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology by designing an accounting system to comply with standards and updating student assistance Title IV regulations.

John derived enormous satisfaction from his contributions as a founder and board member of the Greater Polson Community Foundation. In his capacity as treasurer, John worked to implement procedures that ensured the safe and prudent investment of Foundation funds.

His family and beloved friend Suzanne Booker will miss John’s steady, caring and protective presence. His quiet, self-effacing generosity defined his life. Many experienced him as a man of few words. But those fortunate enough to be the recipients of those words considered them pearls and remain forever grateful. He passed in peace, confident in God’s grace.

John Cowan is survived by three children, John G. Cowan, Wayne Cowan and Wendy Windham; sister, Kay Cowan; grandchildren, Cameron, Chante, Allison, Stephanie and Michael Cowan; and great-grandchild, Nolan Lloyd.

His wife Elaine Cuklanz Cowan predeceased him in 2009.

Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at Buffalo Terrace Chapel, 40 Claremont St., Kalispell, MT 59901.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Greater Polson Community Foundation, P.O. Box 314, Polson, Montana 59860.

Messages of condolence may be shared with the family at The Lake Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

To jumpstart the opening of the 2019 cycle, GPCF is planning two Grant Application Workshops at the GPCF offices – Lower Level of Salish Building – 110 Main Street, Polson, MT  on Thursday, February 21st or Tuesday, February 26th from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Either of these workshop sessions are available for the first ten participants to register for either session and pay $5.00 (light lunch included) This workshop will walk an applicant through the basic grant application process which is beneficial to non-profits writing grants or foundation requests for funding and more specifically the GPCF application process. GPCF will accept applications for pre-screen (we will preview and advise on completeness) until April 12th, 2019 and complete applications must be postmarked no later than Friday, April 26th 2019. The complete 2019 Grant Application is available to download online at where you will also find a list of previous GPCF grant recipients. If you have questions or would like to register for a grant workshop, please contact Jennifer at the GPCF office at (406) 883-4723.

The 2019 grant application deadline is Friday, April 26, 2019. Grant applications will be accepted from non-profit organizations with a 501c(3) status in the Greater Polson area. Grants from the Greater Polson Community Foundation make a significant difference. Over $500,000.00 has been contributed to meet needs in our community since grants were first awarded in 2009. Grants are funded annually by the earning’s from the foundation’s growing permanent endowment and other available GPCF funds. Past grant awards have supported a variety of youth and community projects. GPCF President Toni Young says “our grant funding support to our community non-profits and their projects is a highlight of our year”.
The Committee is looking for how well the prospective project matches the mission and values of the GPCF as well as addressing critical needs that strengthen our community. As you prepare your application, think about how your project can enhance and improve the lives of the people who live here.

Working together is a BIG DILL for Polson Pickleball
It was a cold chilly day but it was a big dill for the Greater Polson Community Foundation, board members of the Friends of Regional Parks and Trails (FORPAT) and local Pickleball enthusiasts to gather and celebrate recent project milestones. With matching grant funding from GPCF and FORPAT and a donation from Providence St. Joe’s, the City of Polson Parks and Recreation Department completed the 3 courts which included fencing, surfacing and painting.
It was reported in 2017 that there are 2.8 million Pickleball players in the United States – an increase of 12.3% over the previous year. Based on the growing popularity of pickleball in the greater Polson area, there was a clearly a need for public courts dedicated strictly for that use. The past two years, the Mission Valley hosted the Montana Senior Olympics which included Pickleball in Polson as the main draw.
The Greater Polson Community Foundation facilitates and invests the development of a robust and welcoming community and is the mission of the Friends of the Regional Parks and Trails group (FORPAT) to protect, preserve and develop Flathead reservation area parks and trails systems while conserving green space. This is another example of necessary collaborations for the good of our communities.
You can visit to find out about making a difference in your community or making an online directed gift to one of the many worthwhile projects in our area. If you would like more information about the Pickleball courts project please call Polson City Hall at 883-8200.


Issue Date: 12/5/2018
Last Updated: 12/3/2018 5:33:33 PM | By Karen Peterson

RONAN – The doors opened on the new clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County and the Flathead Reservation on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and the experience was overwhelming for some.
One of the club’s board members, Janette Rosman, watched as children walked in the front door of the 19,000 square-foot remodeled furniture store on U.S. Highway 93. This would be the new place where the kids could play games, develop art projects, talk with friends, do homework and a plethora of other activities.
Rosman said one girl about 11 years old caught her attention. “She walked in the door, looked around and tears came down,” Rosman said of the girl. “The child couldn’t talk. She was so overwhelmed. And I couldn’t talk either because it was so emotional, so I just took her on a tour.”
After walking in the door, a big front room is accented with floor to ceiling windows. A Christmas tree decorated with club member photos was set up in front of one of the windows. The building was full of adults and children for the grand opening celebration. Several other children were exploring. Rosalei Robbins-Clatterbuck, 9, was playing hide-and-seek with a group of friends.
“This place is so big,” she said. “I got lost once. Besides my house, this is the best place to play. It’s really great. I want to do some arts and crafts in here. It will be so fun.”
In the back of the building, past the recording studio and music center, computer lab, office rooms, central all-purpose room and the drinking fountains, Matthew Mitchell, 10, was in the teen center playing Ping-Pong. He set the paddle down long enough to say: “This place is great.”
Another room is being used as a small gym until the club can raise the $700,000 needed to build a bigger one with a basketball court. Kannon Blood-Hando, 9, ran around in circles playing tag with his friends. “This place is cool,” he said. His friend added, “It’s awesome.” And another kid said: “Really, really good.”
The old clubhouse, down the road from the new one, was a great asset to the community after it was developed in 1988. “We are grateful to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for providing the old building for $1 a year,” Rosman said.
Lake County Judge Kim Christopher was at the opening event for the new building. She remembered when the club opened in the 80s and said the new project is amazing. “I saw the club when it first got started and people were as thrilled back then to get the old building as they are to get this one. It’s a great project. This (club) gives kids a healthy, happy place to be so they learn how accomplishing things.”
She continued: “This place allows kids to find mentors to give them tools so they never come in front of me. I would rather see adults in court than children. But this place isn’t just for children that are struggling, it’s for all the kids.”
About ten years ago, board members and club staff began thinking about getting a bigger building for the kids so they could spread out and have more room to do their projects. The Montana Department of Transportation also announced plans to eventually expand the highway with a couplet located at the club’s old location, so moving became a necessity.
Executive Director Aric Cooksley started looking at the Total Home furniture store as a new location in March of 2017 when the owners decided to close their shop, and by the end of the year, the Club purchased the building for $1.4 million, debt free, with donations. Another $1 million was raised to remodel the building. Funding was also raised to help develop an endowment fund for upkeep and building costs like heating and electricity.
Amy Vaughan, director of operations, stood near the new kitchen, which was developed with a $50,000 donation from Jarecki family. As she talked to a group of people and said: “This couldn’t have been done without everyone.” She said it took a “tone of volunteers” to make it happen, including the person who helped when the calking gun exploded before the open house.
Several hundred people gathered in the front room during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Cooksley said he had a long “thank you” list, but first, he wanted to thank the community. “We could not have done this without you,” he said. Cooksley also thanked the kids: “Without you, this would be pointless.”
Brenda Dennis, chairman of the club’s board, addressed the crowd and said it was “amazing” that a small community could raise the couple million needed to make the project happen. “This is phenomenal for our community,” she said. She called Cooksley “Mr. Possibility” and thanked him for his work. She said he was able to make things happen and save money in the process, like the time he had a set of solid wood doors developed into tables after better doors were donated.
Dennis quoted Frederick Douglas (social reformer and writer in the 1800s) as she talked about the positive aspects of the club and the impact it has on the community: “It’s easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.” She also encouraged people to volunteer. “How can you be part of the lives around us?”
Judy Preston, chair of the capital campaign, also stood up to encourage people to volunteer and continue to support the club. She said volunteer work made the project happen. “Every bit of this project has volunteer finger prints,” she said.
Ronan Mayor Kim Aipperspach said there are a lot of projects in the county, but the work the Club does for children is “pretty hard to beat.” He said it was amazing that people were able to turn what was a dream to help kids into reality.
Ron Trahan, CSKT chairman, got up from the drum circle soon after playing the honor song with a group of drummers and spoke a few words. He said this project happened because everyone worked together. The ribbon was then cut to officially open the new building for the children.

A Cheery Welcome to Polson

The traffic island at the intersection of Highways 93 and 35 received a bright and beautiful upgrade this summer. Twenty big pots of hot pink petunias were placed behind the traditional little rowboat also filled with flowers. Many thanks to Delaney’s Landscaping and Envision Polson Beautification Committee for making this entrance to our community so attractive. The Beautification Committee is funded through directed gifts to the Greater Polson Community Foundation.  This is another beautiful example of how a directed gift of your choice makes a difference in your community.


Look what the North Lake County Public Library has! The Greater Polson Community Foundation provided a grant to purchase two device charging stations. If you are in need of a charge and don’t have your cord, stop on by the library!

2018 Polson Community in Bloom poster[14683]2018 Polson Community in Bloom poster[14683]


100% of Polson 2nd Graders Learn to Swim

104 second graders have been taught the basics of water safety and swimming in a series of eight lessons at the Mission Valley Aquatics Center this spring. Polson 2nd grade Classroom schedules were adjusted for a two-week period, children were transported to the pool on school buses, and teachers helped with supervision. The director at MVA, says the majority of the kids would now be able to save themselves if they accidently fell in the water. Next spring the same kids will receive another series of eight lessons as 3rd graders and the incoming 2nd graders will start the next two-year project. The Greater Polson Community Foundation made a challenge match of $45,500 to fund the project from 2018 through 2021. Mission Valley Aquatics will raise a growing share of the program funds as it builds community support for the lessons. For more information about the project, to make a donation or find out what Mission Valley Aquatics has to offer, please visit website at:  or call (406) 883-4567

These beautiful blooms are getting the tender love & care they need before they fill downtown Polson & Main street for everyone to enjoy throughout the summer. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors, the Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with GPCF are able to continue a 20 year old tradition that enhances the visual appeal and western welcome to Polson.  It takes approximately $17,000 per year to sustain this project. All the money donated to the Hanging Basket project is a tax deductible contribution and goes directly to purchasing the flower baskets, the expenses it takes to care for them all summer long. If you would like to donate to the Polson Hanging flower basket project, send tax deductible check to GPCF – Box 314, Polson, MT  59860 All support is appreciated.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018  – Missoulian

POLSON — Ten years ago, Penny Jarecki happened upon a newspaper article about the good work a community foundation was accomplishing in Bigfork.
It made her wonder why the same kind of thing wasn’t happening in Polson.
So, after some research and an encouraging visit with folks from the Montana Community Foundation, Jarecki began reaching out to men and women who cared deeply about Polson to see if there was an interest in creating a new organization focused on improving the lives of people who called it home.

In 2007, a half-dozen or so began the necessary paperwork to establish a new nonprofit they would call the Greater Polson Community Foundation.
It didn’t take long to learn that Polson area residents were willing to step forward financially to help make this dream a reality.
At the time, the Montana Community Foundation provided seed money to new community foundations that were able to raise $10,000 as a match. In 2008 — the same year the stock market tanked — the fledgling Polson organization held its first fundraiser and began to spread the word through local civic organizations.
“Even though it was a scary time with the stock market, we were able to raise about $50,000,” Jarecki said. “That was the evidence that we needed to show, how the community would respond right from the very beginning.”
Fast forward a decade and the Greater Polson Community Foundation is now considered one of the top five community foundations of the 74 established in the state. Its permanent endowment currently stands at $650,000.
Since 2009, the Polson foundation has awarded $473,000 in grants for community projects that range from $53,000 to help with the development of soccer fields to a $15,000 grant for informational signs along the interpretive trail at Sacajawea Park.

The foundation also was instrumental in helping to jump-start the effort to establish an international film festival in Polson six years ago.
“At its beginning, the motivation was to do something in the winter time that would help support Polson’s economy,” Jarecki said. “The film festival started absolutely from scratch. It’s now recognized as one of the best winter film festivals in the country.”
David King, the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest’s co-chair, said the $15,000 the foundation has provided over the past six years has played an important role in the festival’s success.
“Film festivals don’t just pop up without an enormous amount of support from the local community,” King said. “The Greater Polson Community Foundation and other generous local sponsors … have been the bedrock beneath FLIC from the very beginning some six years ago. FLIC is now its own nonprofit. Its sixth annual film festival will be held Jan 29 through Feb. 1. This year it will feature 68 films from 15 countries.
“We’re proud that we not only were able to encourage them in the beginning, but also have been there along the way as they have evolved into something that’s good for our community,” Jarecki said.

The Polson foundation has one fundraiser in August. Last summer, the foundation raised about $30,000 at the event. Funding also comes from a variety of grants as well as memorial and legacy gifts. Jarecki said it’s too early to know for sure how changes in federal tax law will affect nonprofits like the foundation.The new tax law increases the standard deduction, which could mean that many taxpayers won’t be itemizing their deductions, including charitable donations to nonprofit organizations. “People may not be as incentivized under the new tax law,” Jarecki said. “The old way encouraged charitable giving. That could create some new challenges for nonprofits in the future”.

The foundation’s public relations chair, Dorothy Ashcraft, decided to offer her help after retiring from a teaching career.
“This is really a way for me to give back to my community,” Ashcraft said. “We do live in a wonderful little area that’s filled with people who want to do the same. The members of our board of directors come from all walks of life.”

Jarecki is encouraged by the progress the foundation has made in its first decade.
“There have been dozens of organizations in our community that have been positively impacted by the generosity of the people who live here,” Jarecki said. “Nonprofits allow individuals to accomplish something they couldn’t do by themselves or do for a profit.
“We have all kinds of organizations in our town working to do good things, but we also have a lot of needs,” she said. “We have a lot of good things going on in this town and I like to say the foundation has its finger on many of them.”