- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
This little girl makes the Easter Egg blush at the Culbertson Easter Egg Hunt at Centennial Park Sunday, March 29. (Photo by Nancy Mahan)
- Written by John Plestina
Fort Peck Tribes Chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne (left), BIA regional director Darryl LaCounte and Dry Prairie board chairman Rick Knick of Culbertson display gifts from the Fort Peck Tribes after signing the water agreement. (Photo by John Plestina)
The Fort Peck Tribes, Culbertson-headquartered Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority and the Bureau of Indian Affairs signed an historic water agreement for the delivery of water from the Tribes’ intake and treatment facilities near Wolf Point to Dry Prairie customers throughout northeastern Montana at the tribal government offices in Poplar Tuesday, March 31.
The tribal and Dry Prairie water systems agreement is a result of more than two decades of work that resulted in a collaboration between the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation and their non-Indian neighbors. The systems will be connected later this spring as a result of this three-party agreement.
Once connected, the tribal intake and treatment facilities will begin supplying water to Dry Prairie at a delivery point near U.S. Hwy. 2 on the eastern side of the reservation. This eastern connection will allow Dry Prairie to immediately serve some 700 of its rural customers, as well as the communities of Culbertson, Bainville, Froid, Medicine Lake, Plentywood and Antelope.
In addition to the eastern connection point, tribal and Dry Prairie officials hope to establish connections between the two systems near Frazer later this year and then near Nashua during the upcoming year. The westernmost connection would allow Dry Prairie to deliver water from the tribal facilities to its customers west of the reservation. A third connection is also planned along the northern boundary of the reservation, near Montana Hwy. 251. Eventually, the combined rural water systems would consist of about 3,000 miles of water pipeline servicing approximately 30,000 residents throughout all of Roosevelt County, the eastern half of Valley County, and Sheridan and Daniels counties.
“This moment has been a long time coming,” Tom Escarcega, director of the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water System project, said.
Escarcega, who emceed the ceremony and signing event, has worked on the project since 1992.
“It’s truly a great thing when the Indian community works with the non-Indian community to make a good thing happen,” BIA regional director Darryl LaCounte of Billings said.
“This is a great example of what we can do together,” Dry Prairie board chairman Rick Knick of Culbertson said.
Knick, LaCounte and Fort Peck Tribal Chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne were the three signers of the agreement.
“This is a very important project for northeastern Montana. This is great for us,” Stafne said. “I think we are entering hard times. This project will make it easier for us.”
“We are very proud. This agreement represents decades of cooperation between the Tribes and its off-reservation partners, and is a first of its kind in Montana,” Stafne said in a prepared statement prior to the signing ceremony.
Sens. Steve Daines, R. Mont., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., and Gov. Steve Bullock were all invited to participate. Bullock, Daines and Tester sent representatives in their absence.
Congress authorized the two water projects in 2000 at 1998 costs of $193 million. That price tag is now estimated at $320 million. Daines said the project was about $150 million short during a visit to Poplar in May.
Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority is a municipal, industrial and rural water system for Roosevelt, Valley, Daniels and Sheridan counties outside the boundaries of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation that the conservation districts own in each of the counties. DPRWA brings Missouri River water to municipal water systems, rural households and livestock pasture taps.
The Fort Peck Tribal water system is operated by the Fort Peck Tribes and held in trust by the Department of Interior.
- Written by John Plestina
An unofficial straw poll taken by the Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board Thursday, March 26, put the brakes on the $33 million dollar Buffalo Rivers Casino & Lodge that was proposed to be built on a site near Fort Kipp.
The 8-2 vote against moving forward with the project was taken following a lengthy discussion that included concerns that a $29 million loan from the Shakopee Mdewankontan Tribe in Minnesota would be too expensive with a 6.5 percent interest rate. The cost to the tribes with interest would have been $44 million with steep monthly payments.
“It has to come to full board [on April 13],” executive board member Stacey Summers of Wolf Point said. She also said she expects the project to be formally voted down.
Summers said there will be discussions about a smaller casino project that would cost less money to build.
“The $29 million plus the 6½ percent interest; I just don’t see us making those payments,” Summers said.
Vice chairwoman Patricia Iron Cloud said she would delay any public comment until after the executive board takes a formal vote.
Information disseminated by Jamie Beskow, media director for James Dugan, a Sioux Falls, S.D., casino marketing firm, led to news stories in The Herald-News, Fort Peck Journal and Billings Gazette that the casino was going to be built. A date in June for a groundbreaking was given to The Herald-News.
The Herald-News contacted Beskow Wednesday, March 25. She said she was not aware the executive board had not approved the project.
Beskow said her company is affiliated with Arrowhead Consulting Group of Sioux Falls, which is also involved with the proposed project. Arrowhead Consulting Group is a casino staffing and training consultant, according to information on the internet.
Executive board members voting against proceeding with the casino project were Ed Bauer, Marva Firemoon, Charlie Headdress, Pearl Hopkins, Rick Kirn, Terry Rattling Thunder, Grant Stafne and Summers.
Garrett Big Leggins and Tom Christian voted in favor of the project as it was proposed.
Roxanne Gourneau abstained from voting.
In a second straw poll, council members voted 8-2 in favor of a possible smaller casino project and a more extensive feasibility study.
According to a press release from Beskow, the proposal called for a casino with a gaming floor with 400 video gaming machines and four poker tables, 75-room hotel, 150-person restaurant with a buffet, events center that would seat more than 400 people, a lounge that would accommodate live entertainment, snack bar and a gift shop.
Beskow’s press release also said the completed project would employ about 220 people.
- Written by John Plestina
An oilfield worker from Florida, who authorities allege committed a violent assault against a woman in Bainville, was arraigned in 15th District Court on kidnapping and sexual assault charges Wednesday, March 25.
Joseph Martin Laturell, 52, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated kidnapping and partner or family member assault, third offense.
Charging documents allege that Laturell raped and otherwise abused a 43-year-old Williston, N.D., woman in an apartment in a building in Bainville that a oilfield service company rents for its employees.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Laturell at the apartment building after responding to a 911 call from a woman that was placed at 3:11 a.m. March 8.
According to charging documents, no one spoke when the emergency call was answered, but the dispatcher heard a woman scream, “Get off me. Stop it. Don’t touch me. Leave me alone.” The dispatcher then heard a male voice telling the woman to shut up, that she wasn’t going anywhere and threatening to bash her face in with several expletives directed at the woman.
The location the emergency call came from was determined and two RCSO deputies and one sergeant responded. When deputies could not gain entry by knocking on the door and announcing their presence, the apartment door was kicked open.
The charging documents further state that the deputies found Laturell lying on a couch and secured him. They then located the woman lying naked from the waist down on the bathroom floor saying, “Help me, help me.”
Laturell was arrested and taken to the Roosevelt County Jail, where he has been lodged since March 8 held on $50,000 bail.
The charging documents also state that the woman was disoriented and told deputies, “He hurt me. He tried to gas me.”
It was not determined what she meant by “gas me.”
She was transported to Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson.
The court papers also allege that the woman had a no contact order against Laturell.
The documents allege that Laturell forced the woman to return to Bainville from Williston, N.D., that physical abuse, a death threat and forced rape occurred in the apartment. The woman told deputies she got away from her attacker and locked herself in the bathroom, where she made the 911 call.
The woman was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Williston where a sexual assault exam was conducted.
If convicted of sexual intercourse without consent, Laturell faces a potential life sentence and aggravated kidnapping has a maximum 100-year sentence.
He is scheduled for trial July 16.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Elizabeth Hendrickson of Culbertson won first place in the Teddy Talent Trek In the Don Skadeland Gymnasium in Williston, N.D., Saturday, March 28, which happened to be her 19th birthday.
She performed the song Inside Your Heaven by Carrie Underwood.
Hendrickson was awarded cash for her first place finish along with an invitation to perform at the Williams County Fair in Williston in June.
As the Teddy Talent Trek winner, she will also perform at the Medora Musical in Medora, N.D., this summer.
KUMV-TV of Williston will interview Hendrickson.
Major sponsors include the Medora Musical Foundation, American State Bank, KUMV-TV, KXMD-TV, Nemont, The Williston Herald, Cherry Creek Radio, James Memorial Art Center and Visit Williston, N.D., Boomtown USA.
Hendrickson is a 2014 graduate of Culbertson High School and the daughter of Wayne and Penny Hendrickson.