- Written by By Steve Page and Tom Markle
While the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial at Fort Peck is not complete, phase one is. The memorial with a 38-foot high main monument, 10 walls of honor, pathways and bases for sculptures is functional and landscaping will soon be finished. The dedication is set for May 29, 2016. Future phases include adding sculptures. Pictured during the flag-raising Thursday, Nov. 5, are (from left to right) David Biggar, Tracy Stone, Reid Coldwell, Ann Kulczyk, Tim Newton, Tom Markle, John Jones, Connie Schultz, Steve Page, Jed Kirkland, Arlie Gordon, Don Gudgell and John Lamb.
(Photo by Sean R. Heavey)
It has been a privilege to watch the progress as the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial takes shape in Fort Peck. This summer, with the help of some heavy equipment, cleared and leveled ground gave way to the 38-foot high main monument, 10 walls of honor, pathways and bases for sculptures. The dedication on May 29, 2016, [the Sunday before Memorial Day], will fulfill five years of planning and work by scores of Northeast Montana volunteers.
On that day next May, nearly 900 black granite tiles carrying the names of veterans and their branch of service should be placed on the Walls of Honor. The American flag, state of Montana, POW flags, and one for each branch of service will surround the main monument. An entry sign will lead visitors to an entry kiosk topped with a freedom eagle sculpture. Beginning landscaping of sod, trees, and shrubs should be in place.
All the bills are paid, no money is owed, and the budget is on target and expected to stay that way through all of Phase No. 1.
When the Memorial is dedicated, will it be fully functional? Yes. Will it be complete? No. There are still goals to be met to fully complete the site. Under consideration are KIA and MIA vigil areas, a water feature, and additional sculptures. A Wall of Honor directory and a Taps bugler sculpture created by Pamela Harr and Harvey Rattey are in future plans.
We sincerely hope the friends of this memorial will keep this project in mind when planning holiday giving. Wall of Honor tiles make a perfect holiday gift for a veteran. We have room for 2,800 more tiles on existing walls. Applications are available online and at most area banks.
All veterans from all branches of service, including National Guard and Reserves, can be honored on the wall. Any veteran who is important to a NE Montana resident can be included on the Wall regardless of where they live. A qualified veteran is anyone who has served at least six months and has been honorably discharged.
We should also note that benches, tables, flags and signs are available for sponsorship and are appropriate donations for individuals and organizations. Donations are still extremely important and especially welcome.
Despite the loss of some of our veterans, the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial preserves a loving memory, showing the highest respect and honor for the sacrifices of all veterans. It forever preserves our appreciation, and gives appropriate honor to their service.
It has been our goal to work on behalf of all veterans, and to do this memorial right.
Our intention is also to provide this memorial as an educational resource for future generations.
The Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Fund Inc., was incorporated in 2013, after two years of extensive background work for one purpose: to promote, develop and fund, design, build and maintain a world class veterans memorial for nine Northeast Montana counties.
It is located in the center of Fort Peck on land the town of Fort Peck transferred to the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial by permanent easement.
Construction began on phase No. 1 of the Memorial in May 2015. Phase No. 1 includes all preliminary surveys, soil tests, architecture, design and construction engineering, entries and flat work, the main monument, entry sign, flagpoles, vigil area foundations, basic electric, irrigation, sod, trees, shrubs, an eagle sculpture on an entry kiosk and 10 Walls of Honor.
LSC Contractors of Fort Peck is building the memorial and the Fort Peck office of Interstate Engineering provided the engineering, with professional input from Norval Electric, G&D Electric, Mike Kaiser Associates and Fossum Ready Mix. Aakres of Green Grass and Mogan Lawn Service plan to irrigate and sod the site, weather permitting. DBA Architects of Minneapolis created the design.
Volunteers have planned and directed the project. There are no hired employees.
To date, individual, organization, professional and business donations have funded the project through the sale of Wall of Honor tiles, raffles and general fundraisers. Grant applications are pending. There has been no budgeted government funding.
The by-laws establishing up to a nine-member board of directors were approved in 2012. We are encouraging board of director applications at this time. Board members may reside in any northeast Montana county. The Memorial is a qualified 501(c)19, as a non-profit for tax-deductible contributions.
The Montana Legislature passed HB 0578 in the 2015 session requiring that the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park in Fort Peck be designated on official Montana State Maps.
With the exception of landscaping, work was completed on phase one in November.
The memorial will be dedicated on the day before Memorial Day, 2016.
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
Mayor Gordon Oelkers told the Culbertson Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Wednesday, Nov. 4, that he met with Amtrak officials earlier that day about the proposed Culbertson Amtrak depot.
Oelkers met with Rob Eaton, of Amtrak government affairs; Robert Nagel, Amtrak deputy division engineer; and Kenneth Schoenborn, Burlington Northern Santa Fe senior manager of passenger operations at the site of the proposed Amtrak stop in Culbertson.
“They were very positive. They believe the site is perfect and I am really pleased with the visit,” Oelkers said.
The Amtrak and BNSF representatives traveled to Culbertson to check out the site and vicinity and make sure the railroad tracks were straight.
“If we go through with this, it’s going to cost roughly $3 million in federal and state impact dollars, so that is quite an uphill hurdle. The city would be in charge of maintaining, running and cleaning the building. It would be our liability,” Oelkers added.
The chamber meeting was held in the town hall with light attendance that included: Bruce Houle, chamber president; Larry Crowder, Culbertson Public Schools superintendent; Oelkers; Jaimee Green, Roosevelt Medical Center marketing and foundation director; Peter Olson, American Legion Post member; and Wayne Hendrickson of First Community Bank in Culbertson.
Crowder gave a report on the school’s south elementary addition, stating that the windows, brickwork and most interior walls are complete.
“The upstairs gym probably won’t be done by the end of summer, but all classrooms will be utilized as soon as possible. We are looking to finish with this project completely by the summer of 2017,” he said.
Some upcoming community events that were discussed are the Christmas Open House at First Community Bank on Dec. 21, Christmas Lion’s Stew Feed, Culbertson schools’ Christmas Program, the Veteran’s Day program at the school on Nov. 11 and a Free Will Donation event hosted by Wild West Diner. The diner is calling the event “Thanksgiving Meal for those alone” and all funds raised will go towards the local food bank.
Crowder discussed a concern with the chamber dollars, saying they have no idea how much has been put out or received.
“If we could get all businesses to spend their chamber dollars by the first of the year, we will have a respectable budget for 2016,” he said.
The American Legion Post is in the process of getting contributions and donations to re-open and clean up the Legion Park.
“I think this would be great for the community,” said Oelkers. The chamber is holding off on funding the project until the next meeting, where members can meet with Clint Jacobs, legion chairman.
Green reported that Roosevelt Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s fundraising event Fall Fest had a great turn out, and the foundation board is already prepping and planning the event for next year.
“It will usually fall on the weekend of the opening of pheasant season,” Green said.
United Grains’ tax abatement request was brought up to the chamber by Oelkers.
“I’m in favor of it. In my opinion, I think we should be supporting the elevator. The elevator is in city limits and they bring in $70,000 in taxes each year,” he said.
If the Town Council had approved the abatement, United Grains would pay 50 percent the first five years, with a 10 percent increase each year, according to Oelkers.
“This same tax abatement has been given to 10 other elevators in the state. I am for it, but at the council meeting, I couldn’t even get a second on the motion to approve it,” he added.
The next chamber meeting is set for March 2, 2016, at noon in the town hall.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Culbertson High School band performs at the Junior High and High School Pops Concert on Tuesday, Nov. 3. (Photo by Angela Rose Benson)
- Written by Angela Rose Benson
With new businesses popping up, football nearing an end and winter weather arriving, the Nov. 12, 1915, publication of The Searchlight had much to report on. More local articles were published that week, along with more local items on coming events and, of course, snow. Some local hundred-year-old articles are as follows.
“Culbertson Will Have Flour Mill: Work on the Foundation of the New Structure was Begun Yesterday.
“C.S. Wedge & Son have completed all the preliminary proceedings for the erection of the new flour mill in Culbertson. They have secured the south lot that formerly constituted the Tanner & Best lumber yard and in addition to that a strip 66 feet wide between that lot and the Railroad right of way, which was formerly a part of a county road which reverted to the city.
“The work on the foundation of the new mill was begun yesterday morning and the mill will be pushed to completion as rapidly as the weather permits. Mr. Wedge estimates that sixty days will be required to complete the mill and install the machinery.
“Flour made from Montana grain is considered the best in the world, so there will be no trouble in disposing of the product of the mill.
“This mill is one of the big enterprises in which Culbertson people are interested, and will be a great benefit to the town as well as to the farming community.”
“Big Game of The Season: Sidney High School and Culbertson H.S. will meet at the Athletic Park Tomorrow- Will Be A Good Game.
“The big game of the season for the local high school lads will take place tomorrow when they clash with Sidney high school at the Athletic Park. This will also be the last game of the season on the home grounds hence the last chance to see a game this year. A fine game is looked for as the Sidney boys are considered a clean bunch of athletes in every way.
“The local boys have put in some hard practice in preparation for the game and should surprise the Culbertson supporters with the class of ball put up. The Sidney bunch will have the advantage of experience and may win on that score, but the boys are expecting to put up a stiff fight.”
Local items that were happening 100 years ago are listed below.
“The heavy rain on Saturday night turned into snow and sleet Sunday. The cold has become more intense during the week and indications are that winter is closing in. Threshing is completed in this vicinity, but not very much fall plowing has been done yet.”
“The Rally Day Program which was set for Sunday, November 14, at the Presbyterian Church, has been postponed to one week from that date, Nov. 21.”
“There will be Norwegian Lutheran Services in the Methodists Church in Culbertson at 2 o’clock p.m. next Sunday by Rev. O.J. Hagen.”
“The party who has been helping himself to coal from the Searchlight coal house is known and if his work continues he will be arrested.”
“Don’t forget the Thanksgiving Dance on Friday evening, Nov. 26th. It will be given under the auspices of the Ora y Plata chapter of the Royal Neighbors.”
- Written by John Plestina
A telemarketing scam with phony IRS agents claiming unpaid taxes that has been reported nationwide for more than a year was recently used to attempt to con several Wolf Point residents.
The Internal Revenue Service is not making the calls. The IRS initially corresponds through U.S. mail. The telemarketing scam has been going on for more than a year. The IRS issued a consumer alert in August 2014.
According to information posted on an IRS website, federal tax collectors do not make contact by telephone without first sending a tax bill through the mail, do not demand payment without providing an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed, do not require payment by prepaid debit cards or other specific payment methods, do not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, do not threaten to involve local police or other law-enforcement or have taxpayers arrested for nonpayment.
The IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any form of social media to discuss personal tax issues.
According to the IRS website, callers might demand money or claim that the person they are calling has a refund due and attempt to obtain private information. The callers might alter the caller ID to make it appear that the IRS is calling, use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada said he has received complaints from several people who have said they received the calls. The Herald-News has received one call from a Wolf Point resident saying a caller has alleged to be an IRS agent.
“If the IRS is going to contact you, they are going to do it by mail,” Harada said.
He recommended that people who might have been victimized read information on the IRS website.
Harada stressed that it is not rude to hang up on a telemarketer.
He said the WPPD obtained a phone number from a complainant’s caller ID. The telephone number was in the 509 area code, which is the eastern half of Washington.
“We returned a call. It was in the eastern Washington area. We spoke to a gentleman who would not confirm or deny that he was making these phone calls,” Harada said and added that the man neither confirmed, nor denied that he was using the IRS to conduct a scam.
The phone number belonged to a disposable cell phone and the man spoke with an accent, raising suspicion that the calls ― despite the Washington area code ― could have been placed outside the United States.
The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday, Nov. 4, that a Wayne, Mich., woman lost nearly $20,000 to the scam.
The IRS recommends that people receiving telephone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS should report the calls.
Those receiving calls and knowing they do not owe taxes, should report the incidents to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or online at www.tigta.gov.
People believing they owe taxes should contact the IRS at (800) 829-1040. IRS workers can assist with payment issues.
Complaints may be filed through the Federal Trade Commission using the online FTC Complaint Assistant. Choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.