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56 Counties: Liberty County

 Cliff Hanson (left), Maureen Wicks
courtesy Cliff Hanson and Maureen Wicks
Cliff Hanson (left), Maureen Wicks

Liberty County is one of a string of counties along that Hi-Line that has always relied heavily on wheat farming as their main source of income. They still have two grain elevators operating in Chester, but they have also produced some of the most influential creative minds in Montana, including painter Clyde Aspevig, former poet laureate Tami Haaland, and composer/musician Phil Aaberg. But none of these artists still live in Liberty County. So, my guests for this month are two long-time Liberty County residents.

Cliff Hanson was born in Havre in 1934, and graduated from Chester High School in 1948. He served in the Air Force before returning home to work in his father’s hardware store, Triangle Hardware, until it closed in the 1960s. Cliff worked as an electrician until he was able to buy the Coast-to-Coast Hardware Store in Chester which he sold after twenty years. Cliff and his wife Charlotte raised two children, and he still lives on his own and spends most of his time with family.

Maureen Wicks is serving her second term as county commissioner in Liberty County. After majoring in government at MSU and serving as an intern at the 1977 Constitutional Convention, ‘Morbs’ started out as a schoolteacher, and married a farmer from Chester, which is how she ended up in Liberty County. She and her son still run the family farm, which has recently transitioned into organic farming. Maureen also serves on the county water board and the hospital board, among other community organizations.

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