- Written by John Plestina
Nearly two months after a contract was offered to a Bismarck, N.D., architectural firm to design the new county jail, the Roose-velt County Commissioners voted Tuesday, July 28, to extend a new offer to a Miles City architect.
Stevenson Design will be offered the contract after the commissioners became disillusioned with Klien McCarthy.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said telephone calls to a Bismarck, N.D., phone number for Klien McCarthy were answered by someone in Minneapolis, Minn.
On May 29, the commissioners reluctantly awarded a contract to Klien McCarthy because the county was required to use a selection process based on points for each of four architectural firms that were finalists.
The commissioners complied with a requirement to apply for an interest-free loan from the United States Department of Agriculture that could offset the cost of construction of the jail. The maximum amount the loan could be is $5 million. If the county receives the loan at no interest, it would offset the amount owed for bond repayment. Klien McCarthy came out on top in the point selection process.
“I didn’t feel that the selection process ― the scoring process ― returned the results we wanted,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said May 29.
“We did what we did so we will be eligible for a grant,” he said.
“In order to comply with the feds, we don’t have a choice,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said at the same meeting.
- Written by John Plestina
A snafu by federal appraisers has delayed land buy-back program payments for an estimated 5,000 Fort Peck Tribes members.
At issue is the failure to properly appraise mineral leases on 880 parcels resulting in the suspension of payments. Only land owners with mineral rights are affected.
Land buy-back department director Debra Colgan said letters will soon be mailed to tribal members impacted by the federal mistake. They need to sign the letter and send it back. They will receive another offer with those tracts appraised. Colgan said she does not know when the next offers will be made.
“They weren’t supposed to offer to purchase mineral tracks with leases because if it had a mineral lease it had potential [for considerably higher value] underneath it,” Colgan said.
The program was only offering $7.50 per acre for mineral tracts that did not have leases.
“So the buy-back program typically does not make offers on tracts because it is possible that tracts with leases have more than a nominal mineral value. There should have never been an offer made on a mineral tract with an active lease on it. We found out by looking at some of the offers that the opposite happened,” Colgan said.
She said mineral appraisals, including leases, will be conducted during the next few months.
Colgan said she does not know how long the process will take because it involves the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C.
The buy-back program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing individual landowners at fair market value. Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to help keep the public informed and to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday, July 27, 10 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Fort Benton Detention Center was holding one male and the Valley County Detention Center was holding four females to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between Monday, July 20, and Monday July 27:
•Amos Bridges, 39, Wolf Point, criminal contempt warrant;
•Daryl Buckelk, 47, Culbertson, driving without a valid license, speeding and seatbelt violation, bonded out;
•Betty Cantrell, 21, Poplar, driving under the influence and driving without a valid license, transferred to Valley County;
•Jason Daugherty, 37, Wolf Point, criminal possession of dangerous drugs [two counts], criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, attempted assault on a peace officer or judicial officer and resisting arrest;
•Tyrule Davis, 43, Los Angeles, Calif., assault on peace officer or judicial official;
•Jason Fridge, 30, Williston, N.D., driving under the influence of any drug;
•Matthew Gustafson, 29, Wolf Point, out-of-county warrant, bonded out;
•Kevyn Johannesson, 26, Williston, N.D., fleeing or eluding a peace officer, criminal endangerment, obstructing a peace officer;
•Nicodemus Kupka, 19, Watford City, N.D., criminal possession of dangerous drugs and out-of-county warrant;
•Joseph Laturell, 52, Bainville, partner or family member assault, sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated kidnapping;
•Morgan Long, 29, Wolf Point, out-of-county warrant, bonded out;
•Lawrence Pederson, 53, Wolf Point, driving under the influence, criminal possession of dangerous drugs and speeding, bonded out;
•Cody Twomey, 21, Wolf Point, probation violation;
•Amanda Walton, 32, Poplar, violation of a protective order, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child, transferred to Valley County Detention Center;
•Monte Walton, 35, Poplar, endangering the welfare of a child, violation of a protective order, first offense, criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Carroll Wells, 34, Fairview, theft and burglary.
- 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.