Belgrade People is a monthly spotlight of community members.
HOMETOWN: BELGRADE, MT
PROFESSION: DIIRECTOR OF PLANNING
So who’s this Jason character?
Jason runs the planning department for the City of Belgrade, located at 91 E Central Avenue, and serves as a certified building inspector. A fourth-generation Montanan and Gallatin Valley resident, he admits that no other place he’s visited quite compares to home. While he spent his early childhood on a dairy farm south of Logan, Jason has lived in Belgrade since 1985. The transition from farm to town took some getting used to, he admits, but now he’s fully “city-fied”.
Growing up in Belgrade
The Belgrade of Jason’s formative years boasted less than 4,000 people and a slow economy -- there were empty subdivisions that were “fun to ride a bike in”, but not much was happening. After his family moved into their house on Hoffman Street, a shy Jason finally plucked up the courage to cruise the neighborhood, a fateful decision that resulted in his accidental running over (with his bike) of his neighbor’s dog. The owner? His future wife, Brenda. (The dog was fine, merely stunned.) The two eventually started dating and married soon after high school. Their daughter Stephanie lives in Seattle and son Jackson works for the Belgrade School District.
The road to Planning and the daily grind
Interested in local government, Jason graduated from MSU with a degree in political science. After interning with the City under Joe Menicucci, he was hired on as Assistant Planner. Fast-forward several years and Jason now heads a “burgeoning department of two and a contracted building inspector.” He considers himself incredibly lucky to work on behalf of the community he loves.
So what goes into Planning with a capital P? Jason deals primarily in zoning codes and subdivision regulations, fielding questions like “How tall can my fence be?” or “Can I do this in this location?” Right now he’s especially busy with subdivision review. “Sometimes,” he laughs, “our job is to dissuade really bad ideas.”
Location, location, location!
It may not surprise you to hear that Belgrade will continue to grow, that it appeals to young families as well as those involved in the business of building. But did you know that schools situated in the heart of a town promote strong community identity? Belgrade school sites have earned high praise from consultants for that very reason, Jason says.
Jason rediscovered cycling in his 30s when he started biking to work. He initially did it because his commute was short and he wanted to lose weight, but riding morphed into “randonneuring”, a long-distance cycling sport. In 2011 Jason completed a 1200km race in France; last year he finished a 1400km race from London to Edinburgh and back! He organizes rides, called “brevets”, in Montana for this kind of thing, something he volunteered to do in part to qualify for bigger races through local rides.
When he’s not riding you’ll likely see him at a Bobcat sporting event or leading a walking tour around Belgrade.
Keiley McGregor would rather read than write. She enjoys dirty chais, cold beers and no humidity. You’ll probably see her being dragged around town by her huskies and/or tricked into doing something epic by her Special Man Friend. She takes full responsibility for any and all mistakes in her writing unless you point them out to her in person.