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56 Counties: Cascade County

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courtesy Ken Robinson and Tracy Jerman Houck
Ken Robinson (left), Tracy Jerman Houck

Like many Montana counties, Cascade County came about because of the railroad, and particularly a plan between two influential men, Paris Gibson and Robert Vaugh. They plotted a city near what is now called the Great Falls, in order to take advantage of the falls to create hydroelectric power. Railroad magnate James Hill provided much of the financing for the early town of Great Falls, which was built on what was once Blackfeet land. The city now relies as much on the Air Force base as its other primary industries.

Ken Robison loves books and historic preservation, and he loves sharing history with people. He is a chronicler of neglected Western history and active in historical and preservation groups in Fort Benton, Sun River, Great Falls and throughout Montana. He was raised on a farm and educated in a one-room school house. After graduating from Great Falls High School and the University of Montana, Captain Ken Robison served thirty years in Naval Intelligence through the Cold War, Vietnam, and many contingency operations. During Operation Homecoming, Captain Robison escorted and debriefed senior Navy Vietnam POW and Medal of Honor recipient James Bond Stockdale. The Montana Historical Society has awarded a Montana Heritage Keeper award to Ken.

Ken is author or co-author of thirteen books including Historic Tales of Whoop-Up Country: On the Trail from Montana's Fort Benton to Canada's Fort Macleod coming from The History Press this September.

Tracy Jerman Houck’s favorite job is a Fire Starter and she’s good at it. Her other titles include Commissioner, City of Great Falls, Marketing Manager for Mountain America Credit Union but Fire Starter is her favorite – whether she is teaching dutch oven cooking, writing grants or facilitating a meeting to improve our community, there has to be enthusiasm and fun. Tracy has held executive positions in the for-profit and the not for profit industry over the past two and a half decades. She loves working with individuals and organizations ~ helping them achieve their strategic goals by kindling their passions. Her educational background in communication and marketing was focused on non-profits at Clarion University. It ignited her passion for working for causes that align with her personal values.

Since she helped raise money for a teen suicide prevention hotline back in 1987, Tracy has been hooked on helping others. Tracy has written over a million dollars in grants that have funded social services, sport clubs and youth in her community. It is easy to be enthusiastic when it comes to making differences, educating others and building strong communities, or at least, it is easy for her. Some of her most treasured projects have included: Voices for Hope, Grace Home, Week without Violence, the Haven Project, Electric City Heat Softball, FAST Swim team, PEA Pods Community Garden and Cowgirl Up Catering.

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