- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Several people appeared for law and motion hearings before District Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court Wednesday, July 15.
Daniel Amos Bridges, 39, of Wolf Point withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty to felony forgery. Other charges will be dismissed at a later date.
Bridges, who had been free on bond, did not appear for a scheduled appearance on May 13 and has been lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail, held on a criminal contempt warrant.
Kyle Travis Crusch, 51, of Bainville was sentenced to seven years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections, all suspended, with 29 days credit for time served and a $10,000 fine for felony criminal endangerment.
A felony charge of assault with a weapon was dismissed.
Crusch will have to pay a public defender fee of $800.
He originally pleaded not guilty to assault with a weapon, intimidation, felony criminal endangerment and disorderly conduct during an arraignment in August. He has been free on bail.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported in July 2014 that Crusch was alleged to have been in a bar fight and that a complainant said Crusch had a shotgun outside a bar.
Cybulski ruled against Joseph Frederick, 43, of Poplar in an evidentiary hearing, finding that a Montana Highway Patrol trooper had probable cause for a traffic stop.
Frederick was arraigned in March and pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence - fourth offense, driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating without liability insurance and failure to stay on the right side of the roadway.
Jason Fridge, 30, of Williston, N.D., was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence, fourth or subsequent offense and a misdemeanor stop sign violation.
Randy Knoble, 37, of Froid was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to felony driving under the influence - fourth or subsequent offense and driving a motor vehicle while privilege to do so is suspended or revoked and speeding on non-interstate highway, exceeding the day limit of 70 mph, both misdemeanors.
Randall Lehner, 55, of Wolf Point failed to appear for a hearing to rescind the appointment of the public defender.
He pleaded not guilty to felony partner or family member assault June 24.
The Wolf Point Police Department reported Lehner’s arrest at the Homestead Inn on April 12 following a report of a domestic dispute.
Charles Pinner, 59, Detroit, Mich., was granted a bond reduction from $50,000 to $5,000 with a requirement that he have a GPS monitoring system before he is released, have standard conditions and to stay in contact with his attorney at all times.
Pinner is an Amtrak employee and is alleged to have committed a kidnap and sexual assault onboard an Amtrak train that was passing through Roosevelt County April 19. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual intercourse without consent, both felonies.
Jamie Vert, 36, of Minot, N.D., was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections and a $10,000 fine, all suspended, for felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested her, Brandon Bigham, 30, and Melinda Bibb, 31, all of North Dakota, following a traffic stop U.S. Hwy. 2 near Bainville Sept. 20, 2013.
Methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and weapons [no firearms] were found in the vehicle, according to charging documents.
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
These wrecked tanker cars remain on the ground as a nearby crew from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway work to clean up the derailment east of Culbertson that dumped about 35,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil on the ground. It was the second BNSF derailment in eastern Roosevelt County within two days. (Photos by Angela Rose Benson)
Approximately 30 residents who were evacuated from their homes east of Culbertson following the derailment of 22 Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tanker cars carrying Bakken crude oil Thursday, July 16, returned to their homes Friday evening.
According to Michael Cole, public affairs specialist for the Federal Railroad Administration, “The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is conducting investigation of the incident.”
Since the incident, the scene has been contained, traffic has resumed and cleanup is underway.
U.S. Hwy. 2 travel has resumed following a road closure which occurred immediately following the derailment and lasted until Friday afternoon.
According to Matt Jones, BNSF director of public affairs for the Montana and Wyoming Region, the 106-car westbound train consisted of full crude oil tankers and two buffer cars filled with sand.
The train derailed at approximately 6:05 p.m., five miles east of Culbertson, leaching about 35,000 gallons of crude oil.
According to Lee Allmer, Roosevelt County public information officer, while no fires occurred, a power line was involved in the incident leaving a number of people without power once electricity was shut off in an effort to maintain safety. Several community members were supplied with generators from BNSF until their power was restored.
“Roosevelt County sees more Bakken crude oil traffic than any other county in the nation,” said Allmer. “This is because BNSF trains are going either west or south, and in order to break off towards their destination, they must past through our county.”
Crude oil was released from derailed cars but was contained and is being removed from the scene under the supervision of BNSF environmental specialists.
“We are currently cooperating with the Federal Railroad Administration on the investigation into the cause of the incident,” Jones said.
The train was traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour at the time of the derailment. Two of the railcars involved were government-issued newer-style tanker car created to improve railroad safety.
“It is the county’s hope that these cars will be included in a study to see if the design changes are an improvement from the more standard style of railcar,” Allmer said.
The Culbertson Fire Department was initially on scene and served as the incident command until BNSF arrived at the scene and assume that control. Multiple response agencies were involved in the response efforts, including the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and Roosevelt Medical Center Emergency Services Department. No injuries were reported.
“All of the response agencies worked very well together on this incident. Everyone knew to follow the instructions of the incident commander and also when to turn that authority over to BNSF at the appropriate time,” said Dan Sietsema, Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator for Roosevelt County.
Earlier this year, response agencies completed oil train derailment response training given by Justin Piper, a Hazmat trainer for BNSF out of Seattle, Wash.
“This derailment response was handled successfully in part because of this training,” Sietsema added.
- Written by John Plestina
The first photo is Smiley Johnson, exalted ruler of Glasgow Elks Lodge No. 1922, with Wolf Point Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler and new Montana State Elks Association President Darla Downs in front of Johnson’s 1957 Chevy with the elk hood ornament at the MSEA summer convention in Wolf Point Friday, July 17. The second picture is Wolf Point Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler and Montana State Elks Association first vice president Darla Downs (center) presenting the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Ronald Hicks (left) of Fredericksburg, Va., with a Montana Silversmith belt buckle to commemorate his trip to Montana during the MSEA’s Grand Exalted Ruler’s banquet Friday, July 17. Hicks was installed as the national GER in Indianapolis, Ind., two weeks ago. Past Exalted Ruler Gene Pronto (right) served as emcee for the evening. Downs was elected and installed as Elks state president Saturday. (Photos by John Plestina)
Wolf Point Elks Lodge No. 1764 hosted the Montana State Elks Association Summer Convention for the first time Thursday through Saturday, July 16-18.
A highlight of the convention was the election and installation of Wolf Point Lodge No. 1764 exalted ruler and Herald-News and Searchlight publisher Darla Downs as Montana State Elks Association president. She becomes the youngest MSEA president in its 113-year history.
Another first for Wolf Point was the official visit of Elks 2015-2016 Grand Exalted Ruler Ronald Hicks and wife Nancy Hicks of Fredericksburg Va., making their first stop in Wolf Point on their official road trip since his installation as GER two weeks ago in Indianapolis, Ind. It was their first trip to Montana.
Hicks’ theme for the coming year is “Elks pride and community focus,” which he stressed during the convention.
“I applaud Montana,” he said, thanking Montana Elks lodges for community service across the state.
Hicks called community service the “great heart of Elkdom.”
He urged a can-do spirit from each lodge.
“Every lodge across this country has issues. I know you’re working to make your lodge a success,” Hicks said.
He stressed that boosting membership must be a priority for a lodge to be a success.
“One person can make a difference. One person can be a spark in your lodge,” Hicks said.
“Don’t dwell on the negative,” he said.
Hicks urged to Elks to communicate.
“So much depends on the exalted ruler and the lodge secretary. Let them know who you are. Put a face on your lodge,” he said.
Hicks reminded the people attending the convention that the only requirements to join the Elks are being 21 year old or older, a belief in God and to pledge their allegiance to the flag of the United States.
Downs, who was unopposed for state president, was unanimously elected along with two other people seeking offices without opposition.
Those people were Fred Barrett of Thompson Falls, first vice president; and Bob Stephens of Kalispell, secretary/treasurer.
Susie Larson of Bozeman defeated Dan York of Stevensville for second vice president.
Dennis Cooper of Deer Lodge was reelected as a trustee, defeating Marcus Burnham of Hamilton.
The 2016 summer convention will be held in Deer Lodge. The annual summer convention has been held in the past in Glasgow and in Sidney in 2014, but never before in Wolf Point. The local lodge hosted a mid-winter state Elks meeting in 1985.
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway employees work near Fort Kipp Wednesday, July 15, to restore rail service following the first of two BNSF derailments in eastern Roosevelt County within two days. (Photo by Angela Rose Benson)
Little information was available from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway following the derailment of an eastbound mixed merchandise train near Fort Kipp, which created little incidence and no injuries. The derailment occurred Tuesday, July 14, at approximately 4:30 p.m. 10 miles west of Culbertson.
The train originated in Washington state.
All cars remained upright and nothing was spilled. The track returned to service on Thursday, July 16, at 12:15 p.m.
According to Lee Allmer, public information officer for Roo-sevelt County, Amtrak passengers waited for nearly 36 hours in Wolf Point before BNSF was able to get the rails open and running.
According to reports, about a mile of track was damaged.
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
The Bainville Town Council approved the ordering of street signs for every corner in town, which will read street names during the regularly scheduled monthly meeting Monday, July 20, in a warm, packed room.
Old business included discussing the purchase of a JET trailer and a power washer for cleaning sewer lines.
The decision of whether or not it is financially possible to make this purchase will be decided during the next budget meeting.
Also discussed was that the automatic generators for the lift station are still not working due to complications with wiring. Currently, a manual system is being used.
A resolution was approved for preliminary appropriations on the Fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.
The farmer’s market in Bainville was said to be doing good for the economy of the town and the council approved it until the end of August. It will then be reevaluated.
Mayor Dennis Porta discussed the events that took place on July 4, saying that the parade and all meals served went well and they plan to continue the celebration next year.
“This was our first year doing the Pig in the Park fundraiser. We didn’t raise as much as we had hoped for, but in years to come, we may have a different outcome with this fundraiser,” Porta said.
New business on the agenda included the approval of a massage therapy business to move into Bainville. Owner and licensed massage therapist Abby Frank of Williston is currently running a massage therapy business in Sidney and would like to relocate her business to Bainville.
“I have so many customers who come from Williston to Sidney, so moving to Bainville may lessen their travel and bring more business to the town,” said Frank.
The next budget meeting is slated for Monday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.