- Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners reluctantly voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with a Bismarck, N.D., architect to design the new county jail Friday, May 29.
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.
Architects 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.
“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.
He said the county would allow Klien McCarthy to make an offer.
“If we feel it is high cost-wise or the service is not what we expect, then we can offer it to No. 2 on the list,” Macdonald said.
The second highest finisher in the point selection process was Stevenson Design of Miles City.
The other two of the four architectural firms were Slate Architecture of Bozeman and Epic of Williston, N.D.
- Written by John Plestina
The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board land committee expressed concerns to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, during a meeting at the Tribes’ offices in Poplar Wednesday, May 27.
Vice chairwoman Patt Iron Cloud told Tester the federal government could force the Tribes to pay a $1.9-million penalty for not being in compliance with the Affordable Care Act Affordable Care Act [sometimes known as Obamacare] because of a federal mandate to provide health insurance coverage to about 500 tribal employees. The ACA does not exempt tribal governments from the requirement to provide insurance for employees.
Tester said he will look at the situation.
Iron Cloud also told Tester of concerns about rerouting the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to prevent water contamination.
She also told him more funding is need for tribal colleges and education for Indian youth that do not live on reservations.
Iron Cloud told Tester that funding is needed to build a detox center at the new tribal jail.
Tester said Indian Health Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs and highway construction needs in Indian Country are not fully funded.
“We need to fund a pot of money,” Tester said.
He said he has not seen a highway bill yet. Tester said he wants a bill that would include highway funding for Indian Country.
“Hopefully, by August, we will have a long-term bill passed and Indian Country will be addressed in it,” Tester said.
He said Montana Medicaid expansion will help Indian Health Services money to go further.
Executive board member Charles Headdress said the methamphetamine problem is out of control with too many people selling meth out of homes in Poplar and not enough being done about it. He also cited the obvious scenario of drug dealers with local people with no jobs driving expensive vehicles.
Tester acknowledged that the problem is worse than it was five years ago because of the nearby Bakken Oilfield.
An issue cited is difficulty getting undercover people and confidential informants trained and certified.
Tester said he would speak to Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice Capt. Jim Summers about that situation.
“The meth problem we have here is terrible. We’re losing a whole generation of our youth,” executive board member Edward Bauer said.
He also told Tester that victims and witnesses are reluctant to testify in federal court partly because they have to fund their own transportation to U.S. District Court in Great Falls with lengthy waiting periods for federal reimbursement.
Bauer said that while medical marijuana is legal off the reservation by Montana state law, it remains illegal for Indians because of federal law.
“We’re not all in agreement, but we’re hoping for the same opportunities for our people,” Bauer said.
Recreational marijuana was also discussed.
Tester said legalizing recreational marijuana sends mixed messages, especially with the methamphetamine problem.
- Written by John Plestina
A man who showed up drunk for his sentencing in 15th District Court, Wednesday, May 27, was given leniency and a new sentencing date.
Alexander Phillip Jiron, 33, of Rapid City, S.D., and the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, who has been free on bond, appeared intoxicated when he appeared in court for a scheduled sentencing.
District Judge David Cybulski had Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies perform a preliminary breath test, also known as a field sobriety test. Jiron blew a .158, nearly twice the legal limit to drive a motor vehicle.
Cybulski did not revoke Jiron’s bond and allowed him to be released, but warned him that he will be tested when he reappears in court Wednesday, June 24.
Jiron was arraigned in November 2014 and pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence - second offense, criminal endangerment, fleeing or eluding a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer, driving while driving privilege is suspended or revoked, speeding on a non-interstate highway, driving without insurance, expired motor vehicle registration and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. He later appeared with a plea agreement and withdrew the not guilty pleas.
Jiron was denied a furlough on Dec. 10, 2014, to attend a family funeral in South Dakota and denied a bond reduction. Bond was set at $10,000.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Culbertson School held its first annual Accelerated Reading contest for all grades. The goal set for reading points was 9,500. The elementary and junior high readers scored 9,500 points. With adding in the points from the high school readers the school earned 12,030.30 points. To end the contest, librarian, Jill Herness and principal Mike Olson drew names from a bucket to award prizes for the luckiest readers. The prizes were book sets, Kindle Fire for kids, Kindle Fire HD’s and laptop computers. Herness and Olson (top photo) display the goal poster. Colt’n Rees (middle photo) was the winner of the Kindle Fire for Kids. Some of the winning students who participated in the program are in the third photo. (Photos by Nancy Mahan)
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
“Never Underestimate what a small group of people can accomplish”...no matter their age.
The Culbertson High Schools Student Council brought an amazing motivational speaker to Culberson. His message was the preface for a great class discussion in the junior high Jobs for Montana Graduates class. Through this discussion, a very personal statement was made by a student in regards to the death of his new born brother earlier this year. While students and teachers are constantly faced with meeting standards and tests, sometimes the human touch can be lost in the shuffle. This student returned to school after such a tragic loss for he and his family and found everyone was back to “normal,” and it seemed as if no one cared about their loss.
In healing, his family chose to honor their lost angel by participating in the Ramsey Keller Memorial Foundation walk, “Run, For Heaven’s Sake.”
This foundation, we learned, is amazing. When they lost their baby girl, Ramsey Keller, they realized that for a family suffering like that, the last thing they need to contend with is the high and unexpected cost of funeral expenses.
The JMG advisor received a letter asking for support for the Jaxens Joggers and initially set out to take a bus for anyone who wanted to participate to go, however it was the day after graduation and a long journey.
With discussions held in class, the students decided to hold their own walk, and began planning the event. The students realize that everyone has suffered some sort of loss, as another fellow classmate recently lost her mother to breast cancer and another lost their father unexpectedly.
Students attempted to make their own color powder in class, however it was difficult, so the decision was made to reach out into the community for help. What happened next is what makes northeast Montana special. Businesses, groups and individuals offered their support and assistance Soon there were nine color stations sponsored with a 10th very special one. A family wishing to remain anonymous wanted to sponsor a color station for the Montana Meth Project, to promote everyone to make healthy choices. Another community member came forward with the idea of a “Nickelodeon Splash” stop, which is similar to a gel drop. Soon the final station evolved and participants had to stand and take a pledge to stay away from drugs, educate others of the dangers and to not try methamphetamine, not even once. Next, they were doused with color.
Soon, the students learned that another local family was also the recipient of the generosity of the Ramsey Keller Memorial Foundation. That family’s baby girl would have been 9 months old on the day of the walk.
Another family came in and wanted to make a donation in memory of a sibling they lost years ago, and at least five families followed suit.
Then a sponsor covered the cost of a balloon release in memory of all babies taken too soon. There were vendors, a disc jockey, volunteer photographers and more.
The Roosevelt Medical Center ambulance crew and Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office sponsored stations and worked together handling traffic.
While students were busy making phone calls, posters, banners and planning, many community members volunteered their time, energy and skills into making this work.
The morning of the walk there were 185 participants registered. Exact numbers are a little rocky, but it’s estimated that over 300 people participated in the Color Fun Run. Local major and minor baseball teams were sponsored to walk, the high school track team preparing for state competition joined in the walk, families and friends formed groups, and the Missouri River Rats 4H Club sponsored their members to walk as well.
Every year the Culbertson fifth-graders hold a flea market with a percentage of the profits going to a local charity. This year, they voted to donate to the Color Fun Run.
JMG makes weekly visits to the nursing home and wanted the residents to be able to participate as well. They delivered small packets of color for the residents to throw at participants on the route. Staff had them lined up in front of the clinic and participants were kind in slowing down and allowing the residents to ‘color them’. Volunteers came out with side-by-side vehicles to lead the race and one to follow, others to be in the middle in case someone needed help. Many stopped and helped at the color stations or wherever needed.
Upon returning to the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, everyone was greeted by music, food, beverages and more. Vendors donated part of their proceeds.
Photographers donated their time with before and after pictures. The main attraction was the Montana Meth Project ‘drop’ where people were slimed. Music and dancing were abundant.
Participants came from several surrounding towns, Glendive and Williston, N.D.