CS Masthead

Bakken Development Aid Package Announced By Governor In Culbertson

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Gov. Steve Bullock (left) chats with Culbertson Mayor Gordon Oelkers after proposing an aid package for eastern Montana communities that have been impacted by the Bakken Oilfield development during a meeting in Culbertson Thursday, April 17.   (Photo by John Plestina)


Gov. Steve Bullock proposed a state bond proceeds-financed $45 million grant program that would address impacts from the Bakken Oilfield development on eastern Montana cities, tribal governments and water and sewer districts while in Culbertson Thursday, April 17.
The program and its bonding component will require legislative approval during the 2015 session.
Bullock announced the proposed Eastern Montana Impact and Infrastructure Project at the Culbertson Town Office. He later made the same announcement in Sidney, Glendive and Billings.
The program would include three main initiatives: an immediate reduction of State Revolving Fund interest rates from 3 to 1.25 percent for construction projects; a “Rapid Response Team” state technical assistance program for land use planning, affordable housing, and grant application processing; and the $45 million grant program.
Bullock said that while the Bakken development is creating new jobs and economic opportunities in eastern Montana, “it is also posing challenges to local communities that we could not have imagined even a decade ago.”
In a prepared statement, Bullock cited, “soaring prices, inadequate infrastructure and a massive influx of new residents vexing local governments like never before.
“As Governor, I am committed to helping impacted communities deal with these challenges,” he said.
“[The proposed program] actually impacts 13 oil and gas impacted counties,” Bullock said.
He said Wolf Point and Poplar are probably eligible for the aid package.
Bullock explained that the tiered proposal includes three levels of impacts. Tier 1 is oil and gas development in the immediate area. The second tier is for communities located close enough to the development area to feel the impacts and Tier 3 is for communities located farther from the development area but along U.S. Hwy. 2 in an impacted county.
While Bainville and Culbertson are likely included in Tier 1, it was not clear into which tier Wolf Point and Poplar would fall.
A large part of the benefits of the program would be for water and sewer infrastructure, Bullock said.
He said the program would not benefit school districts, law enforcement or courts.
Bullock called the proposed program a long-term investment for Montana.
He said the proposed SRF interest rate reduction is projected to save local governments millions of dollars in interest payments.
Several people attending the meeting with Bullock in Cul-
bertson said $45 million is not enough to cover future impacts.
A man who said he is from Bainville said that community has experienced a 300 percent increase in population because of the Bakken development, but Bainville is not getting the financial help it needs.
Culbertson resident Allen Bowker said the $45 million is not enough. He suggested looking at the oil and gas industry impacts on Williston and other western North Dakota communities.
Bowker called what is happening in Williston and throughout western North Dakota a “train wreck.”
Bullock responded that he is committed to helping communities that are impacted by the oil and gas boom.
“The ultimate goal is to really do all we can for our communities, so that we are not like Williston or other places that are, after the fact, trying to chase and fix problems by throwing money at it. But really, the more we can do upfront to address the infrastructure needs, the better the longterm growth will be for our state,” Bullock said.
“The reason we see more of the impacts and less of the oil is we’re on the shallow end of the pool,” he said.

Strong At Academic Olympics

A team of five Culbertson High School students recently competed at the Academic Olympics in Glasgow and took home a first-place trophy for the written tests and second in the oral tournament. Team members were (left to right) Cameron Lambert, Hannah Bawden, Renee Oelkers, Courtney Sorteberg and Joey Bawden. Oelkers placed seventh in math and 10th in social studies. Hannah Bawden placed third in English and seventh in math. Lambert took fifth in math and science. Joey Bawden placed 10th in English and was the top freshman.

Broadway Construction Continues

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The ongoing street, curb and gutter, and sewer project in Culbertson has several blocks of Broadway Avenue torn up and closed to traffic. Next will be the replacement of the city’s 80-year-old water main, which is a $400,000 project.   (Photo by John Plestina)

Culbertson School Election Polling To Be Held At School Only

The polling site at Mona Hall is being discontinued, leaving the Culbertson School gymnasium the sole place for voters to cast ballots in the May 6 school district election.
School trustees approved absentee ballots Monday, April 21, for people who would have voted at Mona Hall and requested the ballots.
In other business, the school board accepted a resignation from business teacher Deanne Weeks.
The trustees also approved the 2014-15 school year teacher assignments, which are the same as they are for the current year.
In another matter, the board approved the $113,341 technology budget for the 2014-15 school year that will fund a new computer lab with 30 computers in the school. The funding includes maintenance.
The board also approved the school calendar for 2014-15.
In other business, the trustees renewed the MUST Insurance Cooperative for employee health insurance for the next school year.
The board also approved a contract with Interquest Detection Canines a dog drug search service for two random drug searches next year.
In another matter, the board approved MHSA athletic activities for the next school year.
The trustees also discussed facility updates including bus storage and teacher housing. Those issues will be referred to a committee.

Roosevelt Medical Center Begins Emergency Room Assistance

eEmergency is part of Avera eCARE™, a suite of innovative technology applications developed to improve patient safety and support the rural health care workforce.
This innovative service, now available at Roosevelt Medical Center, links two-way video equipment in the local emergency room to emergency-trained physicians at a central hub in Sioux Falls, S.D., 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This provides patients immediate access to board-certified ER physicians in our community. Our physician and physician’s assistants will still be on call and respond to provide emergency room care, but will have specialty support when needed.
“Board-certified emergency medicine physicians take a team approach,” says Dr. Don Kosiak, Avera eCARE Services medical director. “It is best when one of us does the critical thinking and one of us is doing, so eEmergency is a play out of this team approach in the rural setting,” Kosiak explains, noting the access it gives rural providers, who often practice alone.
Avera’s unique partnership model makes possible a wide range of medical services through the expertise of specialists, sophisticated technology and cutting-edge research to meet the health care needs of local communities and providers.  Roosevelt Medical Center is Avera’s 86th emergency room remote support site.
Funding for the eEmergency project comes from a three-year grant from the Helmsley Foundation, which provides the communication equipment and installation as well as cost-sharing for licensure and subscription costs for the grant period.
The partnership Roosevelt Medical Center has with Avera and the Helmsley Foundation will help patients and families in several ways:
•Providing the availability of physician-rendered emergency care 24 hours a day, regardless of  location.
•Streamlining access to specialists for better outcomes for patients with trauma, heart attacks and other emergency care issues.
•Supporting activation of emergency transport teams as early as possible, saving seconds.
•Providing support when the local facility experiences multiple emergency cases at once.
•Reducing unnecessary transfers.
•Assuring patients’ families access to a specialty consultation at home.
 “eEmergency gives us the ability to extend and enhance the level of health care in our community,” says Audrey Stromberg, RMC administrator. “It elevates the level of care that we can support in our emergency department to where we are able to give better care in our community and keep patients here because we have a great support team standing right beside us at all times — at our fingertips when we need them.”