Written by John Plestina
Bainville and Culbertson firefighters disconnect the battery in the pickup truck and search for fuel leaks in order to render the vehicle safe. (Photo by Pat Drescher)
An eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train struck a pickup truck at a railroad crossing on Star Coulee Road, about four miles west of Bainville, Thursday, Aug. 21.
The Montana Highway Patrol, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, fire and rescue squads from Bainville and Culbertson, and ambulances from both communities, responded to the crossing just off U.S. Hwy. 2 at about 4 p.m.
The train crashed into the vehicle just behind the driver side door, according to Culbertson firefighter Pat Drescher.
The train was reported to have been able to stop about 100 yards down the track.
MHP trooper Jordan Gulick said the driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle and had been ejected upon impact.
Gulick confirmed that the pickup truck was owned by Waste Management and driven by an Arkansas man who has not been identified.
The man was transported by ambulance to Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson and later flown to a Bismarck, N.D., hospital. His condition was not known Tuesday, Aug. 26. Law enforcement sources reported that he was alive.
Gulick said the driver was ejected from the truck.
The crossing was marked by a railroad crossing sign, but there was no signal.
Gulick responded to a question of whether the driver attempted to beat the train.
“I’ve yet to talk to the driver because of his injuries but that’s what a witness told me,” he said. “I cant imagine he never saw it.”
Gulick said the driver will be cited for disobeying the railroad crossing sign.
Mike Olson of the Culbertson Fire Department said in addition to the response by both Bainville and Culbertson fire and ambulances, fire and rescue personnel from Froid were on standby.
He said the Amtrak train did not sustain any damage.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the train with 264 passengers was delayed for two hours and two minutes. There were no injuries on board.
Waste Management spokesman Robert Kidwell said driver of the pickup sustained non-life threatening and has been released from the Bismarck hospital. He was en route to North Dakota.
“We’re just thankful that the injuries were not life threatening and non one on the train was injured as a result of the accident,” Kidwell said.
Written by John Plestina
Pictured from left to right: Courtney Hagadone, Brad Adams, Lori Roys and Shawn Hawkins.
Three new teachers and one guidance counselor joined the staff of Culbertson School at the beginning of this school year.
In addition several new non-certified people have joined the staff at Culbertson School.
Courtney Hagadone, from Poplar, is the new guidance counselor.
The Poplar High School graduate came to Culbertson after teaching at Scobey for six years. The position in Culbertson is her first as a counselor.
Brad Adams is a new fifth grade teacher.
He is from Oregon and has lived in the area for a while. He is married to Culbertson teacher and golf coach Tara Adams.
Lori Roys, a new high school math teacher, hails from western Montana. She has taught in Big Timber and Alberton.
“I enjoyed the pool and did that this summer. I moved her this summer,” Roys said.
Shawn Hawkins, teaching high school business, comes to Culbertson from Merced, Calif.
He is not a stranger to eastern Roosevelt County, having spent part of his childhood in Froid while both of his parents taught at Froid School.
The first-year teacher substituted in California for two years after graduating from California State University Stanslaus in Turlock, Calif.
Hawkins’ wife, Elizabeth, is working at Culbertson School as a teacher’s aide.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Fort Kipp Celebration, a Pow Wow that is a celebration of native culture and traditions through dancing and fellowship, was held Thursday, Aug. 21 through Sunday, Aug. 24. (Photos by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a resolution, Wednesday, Aug. 20, that gives themselves and other elected officials the $300 monthly stipend they recently approved for all permanent non-elected county employees.
It amounts to the second pay raise for elected officials in five weeks.
The commissioners approved a resolution, Tuesday, July 15, that increased annual salaries for themselves and all county department heads. With a $1,500 raise, each commissioners now receives $51,000 before the stipend, which amounts to $3,600.
When the commissioners approved the stipend for permanent non-elected employees, Tuesday, July 22, they excluded elected officials following a complaint by Wolf Point resident Bill Juve, who said roads need repair.
The stipends are above and beyond salaries and were intended as an incentive for employees to remain on the job.
The county has had difficulty retaining sheriff’s deputies and employees of other departments, especially on the east end of the county where the cost of housing is high.
“What does retaining employees have to do with elected officials?” Juve asked the commissioners Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Juve said July 22 that if the commissioners and other elected officials receive the stipends, the county’s compensation board should approve the stipends before the commissioners vote on them.
The compensation board has since met and recommended approval.
Eight of 10 compensation board members are elected officials. Two members of the public are on the board. While there could be as many as four citizen members, there were no responses when the county recently advertised members.
All three county commissioners, Gary Macdonald, Duane Nygaard and Jim Shanks, serve on the compensation board. The other elected officials who serve on the board are: Freedom Crawford, sheriff; Cheryl Hansen, clerk and recorder; Tracy Harada, justice of the peace; Jim Patch, county attorney; and Betty Romo, treasurer. The two citizen members are: Zane Panasuk of Culbertson and Dave Wemmer of Wolf Point.
Juve said the overwhelming majority of the members of the compensation board are elected officials and that they are giving themselves raises.
The stipends are tied to oil industry severance revenue the county receives quarterly. If the county’s revenue from the oil severance tax drops below an average of $400,000 per quarter, the stipend will cease.
Written by John Plestina
A federal grand jury indicted Brockton School Board member Wayne Delvin Littlecrow, who is also known as Wayne Todd, earlier this month, on three charges alleging sexual acts with a child younger than age 12.
Littlecrow, 49, was arrested on a federal warrant Thursday, Aug. 7, and was reported to have been jailed in Great Falls.
He appeared for arraignment before federal Magistrate Judge Robert Holter, Friday, Aug. 8.
A three-count federal indictment charged him with aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor.
According to two of the charges listed in the charging documents, multiple incidents occurred in Brockton between 2009 and 2011. A third count alleges that Littlecrow engaged in a sexual act with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16.
The current age and sex of the alleged victim were not made public.
Littlecrow could face a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
His name is listed as Littlecrow on the charging documents and Little Crow on the Brockton School District website that lists him as a current school trustee.