CS Masthead

Highway 2 Fireball Driver Pleads Not Guilty

The oilfield worker authorities say was drunk behind the wheel of a pickup truck when he created a fireball with a shower of sparks coming from a bare rim on U.S. Hwy. 2, a few miles west of Bainville, entered seven not-guilty pleas in 15th District Court Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Brian Suggs of Mesa, Ariz., is charged with a single felony count of criminal endangerment and six misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, operating a vehicle while the privilege to do so is suspended or revoked, failure to carry proof of insurance, failure to remove injurious material from a highway following a motor vehicle crash, failure to give information to the other driver in a motor vehicle crash and failure to give notice by the quickest means of apparent damage over $500.
According to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Suggs was driving with a suspended Arizona driver’s license.
District Judge David Cybulski agreed to reduce bail from $50,000 to $10,000, allowing him to return to an oil field job in Williston, N.D.
A trial is scheduled for June 11.
Two RCSO deputies arrested Suggs near mile marker 656 at 12:42 a.m., on Jan. 31 after the driver of a semi reported that a white pickup truck sideswiped his trailer, resulting in extensive damage.
The RCSO reported that deputies observed a shower of sparks coming from the front end of the pickup when they initiated a traffic stop and performed a field sobriety test.
Undersheriff John Summers said debris left on the highway from the collision between Suggs’ vehicle and the semi trailer punctured a hole in the gas tank of an RCSO patrol vehicle that was responding to assist the two deputies that were at the scene. That vehicle had to be towed.
A passenger in Suggs’ vehicle was not charged.

Several Appear In District Court Feb. 25

Several people appeared before District Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court Feb. 25.
Joshua Jones
Joshua Wayne Jones, 36, of Williston, N.D., did not appear for a scheduled court appearance.
He has been free on bond since Feb. 12, one day after Cybulski agreed to reduce bail from $25,000 to $5,000 with a waiver of extraction.
Jones was arraigned on a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jones and Melissa Jewett, 32, also of Williston, Jan. 19 in a casino near Bainville. Methamphetamine and a knife were found in Jones’ pockets.
Scott Varner
Scott Austin Varner, 22, Crawfordville, Fla., withdrew a previously entered not-guilty plea to a charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and pleaded guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Varner admitted in court that he was in possession of marijuana in excess of 60 grams.
He was arrested by the Montana Highway Patrol Oct. 13.
Carroll Wells
Carroll Gregg Wells, 35, of Fairview, entered not- guilty pleas to charges of burglary and theft.
He said he had not spoken to his defense attorney when he appeared for an arraignment Wednesday, Feb. 11.
A trial is scheduled for June 11.
Wells had been wanted in Roosevelt County on a warrant and was transferred in early February from the jail in Dickinson, N.D., where he had been held for about a year for a North Dakota case.

Waller Now Missing Over Two Years

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Authorities are hoping  to learn what became of Nicole “Nicky” Waller of Kalispell, who disappeared on Valentines Day 2013.
Waller was 32 when she disappeared and her vehicle was found in Roosevelt County Feb. 14, 2013.
Her maroon 1999 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer Edition SUV was found abandoned on the shoulder of the westbound lane of U.S. Hwy. 2 west of Poplar. Authorities found Waller’s belongings and pet guinea pigs inside the vehicle.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation processed the vehicle.
“We confirmed that the vehicle was brought here by someone other than Nicole Waller,” FPTDLJ chief investigator Ken Trottier said. “We don’t believe for a minute she was ever on the reservation.”
He said he cannot say more about the investigation or suspects.
“Waller is basically a Fairview/Sidney case,” Trottier said.
Waller’s disappearance followed what other media has reported as an extended visit with her boyfriend in Fairview.
It was also reported that hwe disappearance has been investigated as a possible homicide.
“We haven’t heard anything,” Roosevelt County Undersheriff John Summers said.
“We were kind of heighten [in February 2013] in case she wandered off and froze,” he said.
The FBI assisted local investigators with the case for about eight months, but turned it over to the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation at the end of October.
Friends of Waller posted a Facebook page dedicated to finding her at www.facebook.com/FindNicoleWaller.
The page has more than 2,950 followers.
(Editor’s Note: The Searchlight and other newspapers have published a telephone number for Montana DCI in Helena where information about Waller’s disappearance could be provided. Attempts to call that number last week resulted in a quagmire of automated lines and voice mail with no returned telephone calls. Information about the disappearances of Waller or Red Star could be given to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office at 653-6216 or the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice at 768-5332.)

Culbertson Could Be At Higher Risk From Oil Trains Than Thought

A recently publicized and previously unreported federal report underscores public safety risks from oil trains that pass through many communities including Wolf Point, Poplar, Culbertson and Bainville.
The analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation of risks associated with moving large quantities of crude oil or ethanol across the nation predicted 15 derailments of tanker trains in 2015 and an average of 10 each year over the coming 20 years. The analysis also predicts the possibility of large numbers of fatalities if accidents occurred in populated areas and more than $4 billion in damages.
The federal analysis was completed in July 2014.
“Actually [the oil trains] scare me,” Roosevelt County’s Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator Dan Sietsema said.
“If one of them exploded within the city limits [of Wolf Point], the isolation area is one-half mile. I’m not sure how much destruction there would be from the explosion. Several blocks at least. It would be at least half the town that would be impacted and our business district is downtown and along the railroad tracks,” he said.
“We’re in the process of developing an exercise for the emergency responders” Sietsema said.
There have been at least 21 accidents involving oil train trains in the United States and Canada since 2006 that resulted in either derailment, fire or significant fuel spills, or all three. Thirty-three ethanol train accidents were reported during the same nine-year period.
About half of those trains were hauling crude oil from the Bakken region including two that were involved in accidents this month. Nineteen tanker cars of a CSX train derailed in a rural area of West Virginia Monday, Feb. 16, causing a fire that destroyed one home, injured one person, spilled more than 3 million gallons of crude into a tributary of the Kanawha River and burned for several days forcing the evacuation of several hundred people. The train had just passed through a town with a population of about 2,000.
Twenty-nine tanker cars on a Canadian National Railway train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in a rural area in Ontario, Saturday, Feb. 14, resulting in a fire and oil spill.
In July 2013, 72 cars from a train carrying 1.9 million gallons of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in eastern Canada derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and ravaging about a square mile of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, located about 10 miles from the U.S. border.
Trains hauling Bakken crude oil have also been involved in major accidents in North Dakota, Alabama, Oklahoma and Virginia.
According to reports, rail shipments of crude oil have increased from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 435,000 in 2013, driven by the Bakken boom in North Dakota and Montana.
Limited pipeline capacity forces about 70 percent of crude oil to reach refineries by rail, according to American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

Culbertson Spelling Bee

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Culbertson school held its spelling bee competition on Monday, Feb. 23. First place went to Zachary Miller with Mariah Cathey second and Holly Colgan third. Alternates are Lauren Lambert, Ashtyn Ator and Lucus Oelkers. The three winning participants and three alternates will have the opportunity to spell again at the Culbertson school for the Roosevelt County Spelling Bee Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1 p.m.  (Submitted photo)