- Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners voted, Tuesday, Jan. 13, to request proposals from potential consultants to research possible county ownership of oil royalties and mineral interests, and costs the county could incur.
The commissioners have discussed hiring an employee or consultant to research royalties for about two months.
The county is not committed to hire a consultant and could opt for a salaried employee.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said Roger Wimmer of Wolf Point has inquired about a contract position to research royalties.
The project that could take three or four years to complete could cost as much as $400 per day, although RFP responses could come in with a lower rate.
Concerns have been expressed by commissioners that the county could own royalties it does not know about.
- Written by John Plestina
A fire on the 200 block of Second Avenue West in Poplar severely damaged Nemont’s offices shortly after midnight Sunday, Jan. 11.
Nemont’s marketing manager Kate Chudoba said Poplar office staff would work in the Wolf Point office until an interim location in Poplar could be found.
It is unknown if the damaged building is repairable or would need to be replaced.
Poplar residents wanting to pay bills or for other services may come to the cooperative’s Wolf Point office or any of Nemont’s seven other retail locations.
Poplar fire chief Greg Gourneau said the fire that was reported at 12:30 a.m. damaged the front and back of the building. Nemont has occupied the front portion and Montana-Dakota Utilities utilizes the rear for storage.
Gourneau said the cause of the fire remained under investigation Monday.
MDU owns the building.
No one was injured as a result of the blaze.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Culbertson High School speech and drama team competed at the Laurel invitational meet this past weekend.
Placing were: Dominica Granada, fourth; Garret Reid, eighth; McKade Mahlen, fourth; Michaela Cathey, fourth; and Chase Kilzer, sixth.
Overall, the team once again brought home the gold by placing first in both Class C Speech and Class C Drama Sweepstakes.
- Written by John Plestina
The scenario frequently joked about of the snail symbolizing the United States Postal Service might have come closer to reality with the USPS slowing delivery by one day for first-class and periodicals mail.
The bad news is USPS plans to close 82 mail processing plants across the nation this year by consolidated some smaller plants into larger facilities in urban areas. The good news is Montana’s three processing plants in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula will not be affected, at least not this year, according to USPS Minneapolis-based spokesman Peter Nowacki.
“They will not be impacted by the consolidations scheduled for later this year. Wolf Point’s mail is processed in Billings,” he said. “There are no changes coming in Montana this year as far facilities go. There is a change in a service standard for first class letters effective Jan. 2.”
Nowacki did not speculate on possible Montana plant closing beyond 2015.
Because of the consolidation, USPS added an additional day to the expected service standards for much of its mail, which will affect about 14 billion pieces of the total volume of mail, which is 9 percent, and up to 16 percent of single-piece first class mail. Overnight processing and delivery will remain available.
“Local, single-piece first class mail now has a delivery standard of two days instead of overnight,” Nowacki said.
The USPS closed nearly 150 processing plants across the nation during the past three years, which has affected all portions of mail delivery.
According to the USPS, total mail volume has declined by more than 56 billion pieces [26 percent] in the past 10 years. First class volume has declined 34.5 billion pieces [35 percent] for the same period.
The new service standards will not affect deliveries of packages, medicine and standard mail, which is advertising.
The Postal Service says it must make operational changes to adapt to changing needs with fewer letters and considerably more packages. Increasing popularity of email has hurt the postal service.
In 2014, the Postal Service delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail and packages.
- Written by By John Edgecombe Jr.
(Editor’s Note: The author of this opinion piece is the publisher of The Nebraska Signal in Geneva, Neb., and president of the National Newspaper Association.)
A friend of mine from South Dakota noted that the U.S. Postal Service delivered a lump of coal to many small towns last Christmas when it proceeded to eliminate overnight mail in most of the nation in 2015. That was a good description. USPS will slow delivery officially by one day for first-class and periodicals mail. Many members of Congress have asked it to hold off. But USPS is plowing ahead.
It is time for lawmakers to consider how rural and small town mail is suffering.
The USPS plans to close more than 80 mail processing plants in 2015. Smaller plants will be consolidated into urban plants. It has already closed nearly 150 plants in the past three years and says service was not affected.
That is hard to believe, at least in small towns.
Longer road trips for most mail, traffic delays in urban areas to get sorted mail back to the local post offices, post office closings and shorter business hours have made claims of good service hard to trust. There is also the upheaval while workers lose their jobs or have to be retrained. Now, according to the nation’s mail agency, cost-cutting means admitting service will be even slower, even in urban areas, by at least a day.
What the public announcements do not say is that when America’s mail sneezes, rural mail gets pneumonia. Cutting a service day is a big sneeze even in the metro areas. But rural and small town mail had already contracted the illness. Many subscribers who receive newspapers by mail have been disappointed by late deliveries. The scattered reports we may hear of delayed credit card payments and business invoices would be much louder if consumers felt there was any point in complaining.
Unfortunately for many — seniors without Internet capabilities, lower income residents, rural folks without good Internet service and people who just don’t trust the Internet — the mail is a necessity.
The USPS inspector general last October chastised the agency for not fully analyzing the impact from its proposed plant closings and the Postal Service said it would do so—but only after its slower service standards go into effect. In other words, it will consider whether it can reach its goals after it has lowered them.
Even before the change, it has been hard to find out how well rural mail is delivered.
The Postal Service provides a public report to its regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission, on how well it performs against its service standards. See Periodic Reports at www.prc.gov. USPS gathers information on speed of delivery from several sources, including its own digital scanning. The greatest volume of mail is in urban areas, so national statistics may look ok. But the law doesn’t require USPS to report on how the rural mail is doing. That is something Congress should consider.