CS Masthead

Local Water Users Weigh In On State Water Plan Draft

Several people from Roosevelt County offered comments on draft recommendations for a Lower Missouri River Basin water plan during a public meeting in Wolf Point Wednesday, May 7.
The meeting held in the Elks Club addressed water rights and water management, and was the fourth and final meeting the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation held with water users. Previous meetings were held in Harlowton, Havre and Lewistown.
The Lower Missouri River Basin Advisory Council is seeking public input on a recently completed draft report of recommendations. The policy document will be finalized later this month and forwarded to the DNRC in June. The DNRC is scheduled to adopt and print the final plan by Dec. 5. It would then be forwarded to the Montana Legislature.
Lawmakers amended the state water planning statute in 2009 requiring the DNRC to update the state water plan and directed the DNRC to report back to the 2015 Legislature.
Basin Advisory Councils were established in the Lower Missouri, Upper Missouri, Clark Fork and Yellowstone river basins during the summer of 2013, which coincided with the start of the Montana Water Supply Initiative project to update the state water plan the Legislature requested.
Draft recommendations include requesting legislative funding for additional research on the state’s aquifers, completion of the water rights adjudication process, possible new off-stream water storage sites and seeking funding partners for expanding and maintaining the network of streamflow gauges.
Adjudication of claims is one of several issues that were raised during the Wolf Point meeting.
“It’s hard to develop a plan if you don’t resolve claims first,” BAC facilitator Bill Milton said.
“Just because you have a legal claim on water, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use it and put it to good use,” he said.
Dwight Vannatta of Bain-ville said there are people he knows who have concerns about adjudication.
Milton, who is from Roundup, also addressed aquifer development and management.
“If you compromise the quality of the water in the aquifers, you jeopardize it,” he said.
Milton also said there were comments during previous public meetings in other towns that the draft didn’t go far enough to address protection of fisheries.
Milton said irrigators don’t have a clear understanding of fisheries.
DNRC water planner Mike Downey of Helena said most irrigation companies don’t share information from streamflow gauges.
“It would certainly help us,” Downey said.
There was a discussion that more gauges might be needed locally.
Vannatta said he would like to see gauging at the confluences where smaller rivers and streams flow into the Missouri River to provide more accurate information.
“A lot of gauges were being eliminated. We’re going backwards,” Culbertson area rancher Dick Iverson.
Milton said there is consideration of continuing with the basin advisory councils beyond the current process.
Downey posed a question of whether the people at the meeting felt the local group was effective or if sub basins would be a better option.
“What works in this area are ad hoc type committees,” Rhonda Knudsen of Culbertson said.
The draft report is available at www.dnrc.mt.gov/mwsi or by contacting Wendy Beye at 406-320-2124.
The Basin Advisory Council will look at public comments on the draft plan in the Fort Peck Interpretative Center at Fort Peck Wednesday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public testimony will not be taken at that meeting.

County DUI Task Force Discusses 15th District Court DUI Court Program

Roosevelt County’s new DUI Task Force discussed asking 15th District Court to establish a DUI Court sentencing diversion program Wednesday, May 7.
The DUI Court Program, in existence nationwide since the 1990s, uses substance-abuse interventions and treatment, and is dedicated to changing the behavior of alcohol and drug dependant offenders arrested for driving under the influence. DUI Court uses a premise that most repeat offenders are alcoholic.
So far, the Fort Peck Tribal Court is the only court in Roosevelt County that has embraced the DUI Court program and orders participants to attend 12-step recovery meetings and obtain attendance verification signatures.
Seventh District Court which includes Dawson, McCone, Prairie, Richland and Wibaux counties uses the DUI Court program.
An increasing number of judges across the nation have accepted that they cannot jail their way out of the ever-increasing drunk driving problem and are sending people convicted of DUI to the DUI Court program.
DUI Court was modeled after the Drug Court program, established in Miami-Dade County, Fla., in 1989. Today, Drug Court is used in many locations across the nation and there are hybrid DUI/Drug Court programs in use in several judicial districts in Montana.
Fort Peck tribal members who have felony status DUIs enter the DUI Court program, locally administered as a 12-month, four-stage program that includes substance abuse treatment, daily check-ins, positive activities and required attendance of 12-step recovery meetings.
Failure to comply with the requirements result in sanctions that could include jail.
“The inn is full will major criminals,” Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford said.
The aging Roosevelt County Jail cannot accommodate the current volume of offenders. Roosevelt County voters will consider a bonding measure Tuesday, June 3, asking for authorization for the commissioners to issue and sell  $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years that would fund a modern and larger jail.
“Hopefully, after June 3, we’ll have another inn,” Crawford said.
“They need help. They don’t need jail time,” Roosevelt County Commissioner Gary Macdonald said during the last DUI Task Force meeting.
“I want to get our judges to do it,” he said, referring to a possible DUI Court in 15th District Court.
Fort Peck Tribes probation officer Courage Crawford said if 15th District Court establishes a DUI Court, services for clients who are not tribal members would be available through Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center in Poplar.
Medicine Wheel, a cultural-based spiritual healing circle, is a spin-off of the DUI Court program. The group that addresses alcohol, drug and other addictions meets every Friday in both Wolf Point and Poplar and is open to the public.
“We talk about the reasons why they drink,” Courage Crawford said.
In addition to Medicine Wheel, there are 12-step recovery program meetings in Wolf Point and Poplar.
The Montana Department of Transportation funds the DUI Court program.

Bainville, Froid Graduations Set For Saturday, May 17; Culbertson Graduates May 24

Seniors from Bainville and Froid will graduate Saturday, May 17, while Culbertson seniors graduate Saturday, May 24.
Bainville’s 11 graduates will graduate in the school Saturday, May 17, at 11 a.m.
The graduates are Russell Bowker, Anthony Curtis-Lozano, Stephanie Egemo, Rhett Harmon, Caylee Holcomb, Chance Hyatt, Don Johnson, Haakon “Tuff” Jorgenson, Aaron Knudsen, Bree Rhodes and Daniel Wendt.
Hyatt is the valedictorian and Rhodes is the salutatorian.
Froid’s eight graduates will graduate in the new gym Saturday, May 17, at 1 p.m.
The graduates are Cheyenne Danielson, Andy Engelke, Tanner Holtan, Layne Johnson, Alicia Mason, Dallas Reiland, Kassandra Smith and Raymond Smith.
Johnson is the valedictorian and Reiland is the salutatorian. The speaker will be teacher Duane Larsen.
Culbertson’s 20 graduates will graduate in the school Saturday, May 24, at 1 p.m.
The graduates are Kendra Bets His Medicine, Taylor Bridges, Shayne Cochran, Grace Cooper, Ella Crowder, Christian Damm, Sam Fell, Braden Froehich, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Austin Lambert, Paxton LaQua, David Manning, Charmayne Necklace, Erica Nickoloff, Renee Oelkers, Alexus Olson, Taylor Primeau, Courtney Sorteberg, Alexander Walker and Colton Zahn.
Oelkers is the valedictorian and Sorteberg is the salutatorian. The guest speaker will be Pastor Al Beyer.

Culbertson Museum Opens For The Season; Board Meets And Considers Needed Repairs

The Culbertson Museum Board met Monday, May 12 and discussed repairs needed because of water damage from rain and melting snow from the last two years.  
There have been leaks in the quilt and archive rooms with water taking down ceiling panels, saturating insulation and settling in light panels. Options are being explored.
Potholes on the road were filled and scoria was spread in more of the potholes, and in the parking area.
Last fall, the sign 1.7 miles east of the museum was knocked down. One of the three posts which supported it was snapped off at the ground.  The sign itself, is in good condition.  It will be attached to a piece of old equipment on the same site.  
A local man contacted the museum about a display. The museum board is working with the Thresher’s to borrow a display case to use for seasonal displays. A 6-foot long, 28-inch deep, 42-inch tall case is needed.
A change to the museum by-laws was approved after the required two readings.
Item 4.7 will now read: “A quorum for any meeting shall consist of five members present in person, by proxy, or by electronic connection.”  Previously, the quorum was 12 members.    
Several large fluorescent bulbs need to be replaced in the bank room. A source for these bulbs will be explored so that the burned out bulbs can be changed out.  
It was decided to use some of the Faye Meissel memorial money received from the Class of 1973 to purchase a two-wheel dolly to replace the current one.  
Adding an additional security camera for areas of the museum that are not currently visible with the existing camera was discussed.  An estimate will be sought.  
The north wall of the meat room still needs to be finished and shelves put up.  Daylight can be seen in one corner of that room. Estimates will be needed for the project. The north wall in the blacksmith shop is also in need of repairs. There are lots of holes in it and it moves in the wind. This needs to be fixed before there is any damage to the building itself.  
It was discovered at the time the museum closed last fall, that the pulley at the top of the flagpole was damaged and the rope fraying.
The museum held its winter fundraiser on Super Bowl Sunday with a nice turnout.  Homemade soup was served with rolls and ice cream.
The museum opened for the season on Mother’s Day with 40 people coming through the door.
The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and the coffee is usually on.

Roosevelt County DUI Task Force Elects Officers, OKs By-Laws

The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force elected officers and approved by-laws during its first official meeting Wednesday, May 7.
The board of county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force Tuesday, April 29. A group has held organizational meetings since December and has sought more participation.
The task force elected the following people as officers: county commissioner Gary Macdonald, chairman; Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada, vice chair; Mary Vine, who also serves as coordinator for the task force, secretary; and Kahlil Wehbe, treasurer.
The by-laws and work plan were approved.
Both were modeled after other counties.
The work plan must be submitted to the state by June 1. Macdonald said there is a possibility the task force could receive some funding this year.
Macdonald said he expected the county commission to approve the by-laws Tuesday, June 13, which was after press time.
The group must meet a minimum of four times within one year but is likely to meet more frequently.
Montana Department of Transportation has funding available to support the task force.
There was a discussion about current problems with law enforcement jurisdictional issues when a perpetrator of a crime is a tribal member and a victim is not.
A woman who was seriously injured in a crash several years ago that a drunk driver caused said there were little consequences for the driver. She said that driver is a tribal member and she is not.
Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford said there are jurisdictional issues with Indian Country that face every Indian reservation in the country.
“It’s about helping the people. That’s what it boils down to,” he said of a need to resolve issues.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force will next meet at the Roosevelt County Community Services Building, 124 Custer St., Wednesday, June 4, at 2 p.m.
For more information about the DUI Task Force, contact Vine at 653-6228.