- Written by John Plestina
The bonding issue for a new Roosevelt County Jail that failed at the polls two months ago will be before voters once again for the Nov. 3 general election.
The Roosevelt County Commission voted unanimously, Tuesday, Aug. 5, to place the measure back on the ballot.
The need to replace the aging jail is critical due to overcrowding and outdated facilities. The county is at risk of being forced to close the facility because of potential liability. If that happens, the cost to taxpayers could be substantially higher than a mill levy increase that would be necessary to fund construction and operational costs.
The bonding issue received 57.93 percent [986-716] of the votes cast on primary election ballots in June but failed because it did not receive a minimum of 60 percent, a state requirement when voter turnout is between 30 and 40 percent of registered voters. The voter turnout was 34.88 percent.
The bonding measure will again ask voters to authorize the commissioners to issue and sell $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years with an estimated annual fixed interest rate of 10 percent.
The costs to taxpayers for construction-related costs would be $46.06 per year for residential properties valued at $100,000 and $11.18 annually for operational expenses.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said in June that one problem he saw with the language on the primary election ballot was that it did not explain the cost of the new jail to voters.
All three commissioners said they are expecting a larger voter turnout for the general election.
“We are going to get some more information out and have a reasonable turnout,” commission chairman Duane Nygaard said.
“It’s going to carry if we get that 40 percent voter turnout,” Macdonald said.
The proposal is to remodel the existing sheriff’s office and jail facility behind the Roosevelt County Courthouse with an addition, a less expensive option than building a completely new facility at a different site because it would reduce construction expenses and eliminate site acquisition costs. It would also retain the jail in close proximity to courtrooms, minimizing transportation costs
The addition would provide a 60-bed jail that would be compliant with all standards.
The bonding includes the costs of designing, building, equipping and furnishing the jail and office space for the sheriff’s office that would be included. The proposed facility would include an “eyes-on” master control center, booking area, medical isolation area and several Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant cells. An E-911 communications center would be included in the facility.
The larger jail could generate revenue by accepting inmates from other counties and would be large enough to handle a much higher volume of local offenders as increases in crime are projected.
The current 17-bed jail has a rated jail capacity, per state standards, of only 11 beds. The jail averaged 15 inmates per day in 2012, with occasional peaks as high as 20.
The approval of the placement of the bonding measure on the November ballot meets a filing deadline with the county clerk’s office by six days.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Froid Library’s summer reading program, “Fizz, Boom, Read,” met for the last time, Tuesday, July 22. Twenty-nine children participated during the five-week program. Each week, students listened to a story, did an experiment and an art project, and had treats. The top readers [pictured] were Brielle Britton, Jacob Martensen and Haven Martensen. These three readers received a gift certificate for a year of National Geographic Kids and a backpack. Also reading several books was Kash Ator who received a year of National Geographic Kids. The teen program, “Spark a Reaction,” will continue through Thursday, Aug. 7. (Submitted photo)
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Construction has started on new elementary classrooms at Culbertson School, one of several projects of the Culbertson School District to address growth in the district due to the oil boom. (Photos by Nancy Mahan)
- Written by John Plestina
Adam Alonzo (left) and Hilario Velasquez.
A jury convicted Hilario Velasquez, 34, of Williston, N.D., and Riverside, Calif., of two drug charges in 15th District Court, Friday, Aug. 1.
Velasquez was found guilty of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute [methamphetamine], a felony, and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.
A pre-sentence investigation and report is expected to take two to three months. Sentencing will follow.
Velasquez was arrested with Adam Alonzo, 31, of Williston, N.D., and San Bernardino, Calif.
Alonzo is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute [methamphetamine]. He was also charged with several motor vehicle violations, including driving after his license was suspended or revoked in California.
A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 16, but District Court sources said a plea agreement is a possibility.
Alonzo and Velasquez have been lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail since Sept. 25, 2013.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported that shortly after midnight, Sept. 25, 2013, a deputy observed a black Saturn Ion traveling as much as 15 mph under the posted speed limit and weaving on U.S. Hwy. 2 eastbound, between Bain-ville and Culbertson. The car crossed the center line three times and then stopped. The driver, later identified as Alonzo, was unable to provide a driver’s license or any identification, vehicle registration or insurance card, and told a deputy his name was Adam Lucatero. Lucatero is reported to be his middle name.
The deputy stated in a written report that there was an odor of marijuana in the car.
The RCSO identified a front seat passenger as Briann Burshia. Velazquez was seated on the back seat.
Burshia claimed she met the men in Poplar a short time earlier. She was not arrested.
The deputy reported that both men were uncooperative, resulting in the officer removing his duty weapon from his holster. The deputy also had to threaten Velasquez with pepper spray.
The deputy wrote in his report that Velazquez told him he is on felony probation in California and was not supposed to leave that state.
Alonzo has an extraditable parole warrant out of North Dakota, for another drug case.
Judge David Cybulski granted a search warrant for it, where authorities found a substantial amount of syringes [several used], other drug paraphernalia, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, digital scale, 10 cell phones and $991 in cash.
- Written by John Plestina
A developer from the Twin Cities representing an unnamed major retailer has expressed interest in a 25-acre site on U.S. Hwy. 2, east of the Homestead Inn that the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture has owned since the 1970s.
Drew Johnson, representing Oppidan Investment Company, a development company in Minnetonka, Minn., told the chamber board, Tuesday, Aug. 5, that his company is asking the chamber to either donate the land or sell the site for $1. Oppidan would then build a 26,000-square-foot building for what Johnson called a general merchandise retailer and lease the building to that company.
The proposal includes an 80-stall parking lot.
The identity of that retailer remains shrouded in secrecy.
The chamber board will meet soon to consider the proposal.
Oppidan has developed general merchandise retail, large chain grocery stores and national chain fast food restaurant sites in several Midwestern states, including both Dakotas, numerous developments in Williston, N.D., and in Glendive and Sidney.
The site is smaller than most Walmart, K-Mart or Target locations. The proposed 26,000-square-foot building would be slightly larger than the 25,000- square-foot Alco store in Wolf Point.
“Overall, we’re excited about the community,” Johnson said.
“They [Oppidan] have done grocery store developments in the Bakken [oilfield] and Glendive,” he said.
Johnson said the project would cost $4 to 4.5 million. He also said the retailer is expected to do between $4 and $7 million in sales annually and produce substantial tax revenue.
Great Northern Development Corporation is involved in the project and GNDC was represented at the chamber meeting.
Johnson said if the chamber board votes to accept the proposal and move forward with the project, construction is likely to begin during spring 2015 with a late fall 2015 opening.
Oppidan, founded in 1991, is a national property development firm offering numerous real estate services, including construction, project management, asset management and brokerage services. Oppidan has successfully developed more than 300 projects valued at more than $1.5 billion in 26 states.
National retailers on Oppidan’s online client list include Bed, Bath and Beyond; Best Buy; Dollar Tree; J.C. Penney; Kohls; Lowe’s; Michael’s; Office Max; Old Navy; Radio Shack; Shopko; Target and Walgreens.
In addition, the client list includes several national fast food and restaurant chains, Wells Fargo Bank and other types of businesses.