Five years ago, the Choteau Lions Club began to seriously look at ideas to improve the condition of the community tennis and basketball court facility across the highway from the Lions Swim Pool.

After research and discussions with local contractors, a rough estimate for renovation and resurfacing the existing court with a concrete cap could be done for around $60,000. At that time there was also a possibility of a 50/50 donation from a private source of $30,000. Fundraising ideas were studied and the club agreed on a “Hunter Gun-a-Month Giveaway Raffle” similar to the Trip-of-the-Month raffle that had been so successful in supporting the annual operating expenses of the community swimming pool.

The first Lions gun raffle was offered in 2017 with shotgun and rifle firearms suitable for traditional hunters. No handguns or assault type rifles have been included in the raffle prizes. This first raffle was well received and very well supported. From this first raffle the Lions raised $15,000 toward the tennis/basketball renovation project. Two additional hunter gun raffles were conducted in 2018 and 2019. With funds raised from these three raffles, the Lions currently have $30,000 saved and earmarked for the renovation project.

The condition of the courts has continued to deteriorate and is a real community eyesore. Court use is difficult because of surface cracks and weeds. Current use is for recreational basketball and the Choteau Public Schools tennis program when there is an overflow on school courts because of tennis tournaments.

Several things have changed since the Lions committed to the court renovation five years ago. The potential private donation of $30,000 no longer exits, the current cost estimate for the project has increased to $70,000, and the Choteau Schools tennis program’s need for additional court space has increased. A divisional tennis tournament is scheduled to be held in Choteau in early May 2022.

A 50/50 grant application was completed several months ago with a state grant program. A request for $30,000 has been made. At this time the Lions are hopeful it will be approved but there is no guarantee and a decision is not expected until January at the earliest.

The Choteau Lions Club is committed “to serve” and will try hard to complete the renovation project by April 2022, in time for the school tennis tournament. The approval of a grant from the state would be wonderful. However, if it is not approved, the Lions will give every consideration possible to get this project done without the grant.

A fourth Lions Hunter Gun-a-Month-Giveaway Raffle is being offered and tickets are now available. Tickets will be mailed out to past supporters. Raffle rules and information along with the list of firearms to be given away are posted on the Lions website at Tickets are $25 each or $100 for six tickets.

The first drawing is tentatively planned for June 2022. Buck’s Sporting Goods and Teton Firearms of Choteau are supplying the firearms and will complete background checks for the monthly winners. Winners will have the choice of the firearm they win or $500 cash. Tickets can be purchased online or from any Lions Club member. Other community members who support the project may also be involved in selling tickets. Any questions can be directed to any Lions Club member, or Raffle Committee Co-Chairmen Luigi Yannotti at 406-466-5557 and Don Rogers at 406-590-3538.