- Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a renewal of a contract with Roosevelt Medical Center on Tuesday, June 30, for the purchase and delivery of 700 daily Meals On Wheels meals in the Culbertson area at a cost of $7.30 per meal and $2 delivery.
The approval came one week after the commissioners approved a contract with Northeast Montana Health Services for the purchase and delivery of 2,000 Meals On Wheels meals in Wolf Point and 100 in Poplar at $12 per meal and $2.50 for each delivery.
In other business, a woman from Culbertson who said she is a volunteer for the fair board asked the commissioners for help to stop what she called slander posted on Facebook against her related to her duties as a fair volunteer. She said she has volunteered for the fair for almost 50 years.
No action was taken.
In another matter, the commissioners voted to move a fire hydrant at the fairgrounds in Culbertson into the parking lot at county expense because it is a safety issue.
The commissioners also established the courthouse in Wolf Point and the county building in Culbertson as locations for posting public notices.
- Written by John Plestina
A vicious dog ordinance moved a step further to eventual enactment with the Roosevelt County Commissioners asking Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen to look at three state laws and determine if they could be incorporated into a dog ordinance during the weekly commission meeting Tuesday, June 30.
The Roosevelt County Attorney requested the ordinance after several people asked for stricter laws addressing vicious dogs.
The ordinance would impose penalties of $250 for first offenses for owners of dogs that bite and break skin. Second offenses would carry a $500 fine.
Vicki Bell, director of the Roosevelt County Health Department, told the commissioners the ordinance is well written but requested that it address public health issues associated with biting dogs.
Bell said she would like to see language included in a county ordinance that would require isolation of biting animals. She also said she wants biting dogs quarantined for 10 days because of risks of rabies and would like euthanasia sooner than 10 days permitted with dogs showing signs of being sick.
“I know we’re making a lot of people angry,” Bell said, but added that the action is necessary.
Bell presented copies of three state laws she hopes would be incorporated into an ordinance.
Two existing state laws address rabies exposure and mandate that local health departments investigate reports of rabies exposure and gather information about the person exposed, quarantine animals for 10 days with a requirement for evaluation of signs of illness.
Another law requires that dogs and cats being transported from other states be vaccinated against rabies and be free from evidence of infectious, contagious, communicable or parasitic disease.
Bell said she wants to meet with officials of Fort Peck Tribes and would like to see an agreement with the tribes following Montana law with dog regulations.
“If they don’t, it’s putting everything back on us,” she said.
“That’s a whole other issue trying to do a M.O.A. [memorandum of understanding] with the tribes. Right now, we want to do a vicious dog ordinance,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said Knudsen should look at the three state laws and determine what action the commissioners should take.
“If there is no rabies, I still want to prosecute for vicious dogs,” Knudsen said.
The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board approved a resolution May 26 to restrict ownership of dogs classified as dangerous breeds, specifically pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers on the Fort Peck Reservation, but it only applies to enrolled tribal members.
- Written by John Plestina
The failure of infrastructure funding legislation to pass during the recent legislative session prompted the Highway 2 Association to call on Gov. Steve Bullock to bring the Legislature back for a special session to address highway and other infrastructure funding during a meeting at the Elks Club in Wolf Point Friday, June 26.
Two bills with local sponsors that failed during the recent session were House Bill 402, sponsored by House Speaker Austin Knudson, R-Culbertson, and Senate Bill 416, sponsored by Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey.
HB 402 was a $55-million oil and gas impact bill and SB 416 was a $50-million infrastructure and capital spending bill.
“We’re hoping this legislature calls itself into a special session to address highway infrastructure,” Highway 2 Association president Bob Sivertsen of Havre said Monday, June 29.
A recommendation was made during the Wolf Point meeting that if the Legislature wasn’t willing to call itself into a special session, to address infrastructure funding, the Highway 2 Association, in consort with county commissioners and mayors from within the oil and gas impacted counties, should schedule a meeting with Bullock to encourage him to call the Legislature into a special session.
“This has to be a joint effort from within the oil and gas counties. Gov. Bullock has expressed disappointment that the Legislature failed to act. We have a great opportunity to connect with Gov Bullock,” Sivertsen said.
Several people at the meeting offered to help get signatures on a letter urging Bullock to meet with the Highway 2 Association.
Needs that were cited for a four-lane U.S. Hwy. 2 included increased heavy truck traffic due to Bakken Oilfield development in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, including Roosevelt County.
In other business, Sivertsen said the group should be concerned about the future widening to four lanes of Montana Hwy. 16 from the Port of Raymond border crossing south to Culbertson and U.S. Hwy. 2 east to the North Dakota state line, as Montana’s portion of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, a proposed four-lane trade corridor serving Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan, Culbertson, Williston, N.D., and Rapid City S.D.
Backers of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway say it would enhance business and tourism in several states. It would be comprised of several existing highways between Texas/Mexico border and the Port of Raymond, passing through Culbertson.
Sivertsen cited two studies that recommended four-lane roadways.
He said if Montana does not show an effort upgrading the roads, Saskatchewan will bypass northeast Montana by widening Saskatchewan Hwy. 39, which runs diagonally from Moose Jaw to Weyburn and Estavan.
The association members present at the meeting voted to ask Montana Department of Transportation director Mike Tooley to help arrange a meeting in Regina, Sask., with Minister of Highways and Infrastructure Nancy Hepp-ner.
Several people told Tooley a four-lane divided U.S. Hwy. 2 is needed for safety and economic development during a Highway 2 Association meeting in Glasgow in October 2014.
In another matter, Sivertsen said the federal highway bill was extended until July 31.
“Congress just keeps kicking the can down the road,” he said.
“It’s time to pass a five-to-six-year highway bill with a funding mechanism.
Since it’s inception in 2001, the Highway 2 Association has been a strong proponent of the “4 For 2” campaign to build a four-lane U.S. Hwy. 2 across the 666 miles that crosses Montana, for an adequate transportation system along the Hi-Line with safety, tourism, agriculture and the enhancement of energy and other economic development cited as reasons for the need.
More than one-quarter of Hwy. 2 is in Montana. The route dates to 1926 and spans 2,571 miles across the northern continental United States in two segments.
The western portion begins in Everett, Wash., near Seattle, continues through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and ends in Michigan at the Canadian border.
The eastern segment begins in New York State about 45 miles south of Montreal, Canada, and continues through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, ending at the border between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.
- Written by John Plestina
Thick smoke blanketing the air across northeast Montana with a heavy haze and noticeable stench is coming from more than 200 wildfires burning hundreds of miles north of the Canadian border that high-altitude winds have blown across much of the central United States.
Smoke is reported across more than 1,600 miles that includes Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota and several other states as far south as Oklahoma and Arkansas and as far east as Illinois.
Haze and a smoke smell became prevalent in Wolf Point Monday, June 29.
The National Weather Service in Glasgow issued a Dense Smoke Advisory Monday, June 29, with visibilities reported as low as three quarters of a mile at stations that have observing equipment and a quarter mile in some places.
“As far as I can recall, this is the first time we have ever issued a Dense Smoke Advisory in northeast Montana,” Glasgow National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Tanja Fransen said.
She said her office has had a lot of calls about the smoke.
Fransen said air quality at eastern Montana stations in Malta and near Sidney is reported as “hazardous.”
“This is the first time in 14 and a half years here that I have ever seen it at hazardous,” she said.
According to online reports from Canadian media, lightning strikes sparked about 40 wildfires in forests in northern Saskatchewan, bringing the total fires in that province to 113. Other fires are burning in Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. More than 1,000 Canadians have been evacuated.
Fransen said the fire source region is in the Boreal Forest in Northern Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northwest Territories.
There were multiple fires burning, with substantial acreage burned as of Monday, June 29. Reports put charred forested land at 148,000 acres or 231 square miles.
Fransen said Tuesday morning that a cold front was expected with fairly strong winds from the northwest, which she said could help.
“But, with that amount of fire to our north, we can shift back into a pattern that could bring the smoke back into the region. We are not out of the woods yet,” Fransen said.
Predictions are that the fires might continue for awhile due to dry conditions in northern Canada.
Health precautions include staying inside an air-conditioned building with windows closed. N95 masks are recommended for people who have to be outside. Cloth painting masks are not going to help.
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
In times of tragedy, it is no surprise that community members come together. Following the sudden passing of Joseph “Joe” Hanson, 19, of Culbertson a GoFundMe account has been created to assist the family with the financial hardship of this tragedy.
“Joe was like one of my own children. Joe and my son became very close during football season,” said Leslie Bengochea, the community member who set up the account.
Community members can donate by logging on to their personal Facebook profiles and searching “The Culbertson Searchlight,” where the link to “Celebration of Life Fund for Joe” has been added. The secure site enables you to donate funds with a major credit card. On the site, you will click the “Donate Now” button. From there, you will have an opportunity to leave a message or remain anonymous.
Hanson recently graduated from Culbertson Public Schools and lost his life last weekend in an auto accident.