CS Masthead

Sewer Rate Hike On Tap In Culbertson

The Culbertson Town Council adopted a resolution on June 1 to increase sewer rates.
The town currently anticipates issuing approximately $3,521,000 of sewer system revenue bonds to fund part of the cost of designing and constructing improvements to the municipal sewer system and the costs of issuance of bonds.
The town is proposing to increase sewer rates to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds, to pay the costs associated with the operation and maintenance of the system and to establish appropriate reserves. Costs of the Phase II Improvements will be paid from the bonds that will be purchased by USDA Rural Development, as well as various grants and funds of the town.
The town uses an equivalent dwelling unit methodology for imposing rates and charges, which is based on the size of the meter servicing each connection.  A ¾-inch and 1-inch service, which is the standard service for single family residential users, equals one equivalent dwelling unit.
The town currently charges sewer users a $40.90 monthly flat rate for each equivalent dwelling unit plus a usage charge of $3.46 per 1,000 gallons of water used per user per month.
The base charge will increase to $58 effective Aug. 1.
The town also intends to continue the current usage charge.
In the event that water service is shut off at the curb, the town proposes charging those inactive connections a $50.46 base rate.
A public hearing on the proposed rate increase will be held on July 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the town hall, 210 Broadway Ave.

Baldwin Expected To Become Poplar School’s Next Superintendent

The former Wolf Point High School teacher, athletic director and basketball coach who turned down an offer in April to become Wolf Point’s next superintendent received approval from the Poplar School board Monday, June 8, to become the next district superintendent in Poplar.
Jim Baldwin, 59, originally from Culbertson and currently of St. John, Wash., has 39 years experience in education. He taught at WPHS for nearly a decade from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s. Baldwin is also a former superintendent in Choteau.
Baldwin will replace embattled superintendent Dr. Kim Harding, who the board placed on administrative leave May 14. She began working as superintendent at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Elementary principal Keith Erickson and high school principal Dwain Haggard have served as co-superintendents since Harding’s departure.
A petition that circulated in Poplar asked for Harding’s removal.
That came after the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board voted 9-1 April 27 to banish Harding from the reservation. Numerous allegations claimed that Harding did not get along with teachers and she was accused of referring to several Poplar teachers as “renegades” in an email dated March 6. A Poplar teacher publicized the email from Harding on March 11.
Harding was taken to task because historical uses of the word “renegade” are considered offensive by Native Americans.
Harding told The Herald-News in early May that the email was portrayed in the press [not in The Herald-News] as racist in nature and described situations that had been happening at staff meetings.
“I absolutely wish I had never used the word renegade. I come from Ronan [on the Flathead Reservation]. We raised our family there and have our ranch there,” Harding said.

Commissioners Delay Decisions For Fair Board Pending Receipt Of Additional Information

The Roosevelt County Commissioners delayed decisions on several issues for the fair board Tuesday, June 9, pending additional information.
The fair board requested permission to remove an aging Quonset building on the fairgrounds that leaks and needs other costly maintenance and replace it with a new metal building, to remove the old county shop on fairgrounds and relocate a fire hydrant that is poorly located and might not provide adequate fire protection.
The commissioners will make determinations about these issues separately during future meetings following more in-depth discussions.
The commissioners voted to send a letter to the Fort Peck Tribal water system requesting a fire hydrant near Frontier Elementary School
Frontier district superintendent Christine Eggar requested assistance from the commissioners.
The commissioners also gave Eggar permission for Frontier to trim trees on a county road near the school.
The James E. Shanley Tribal Library on the Fort Peck Community College campus in Poplar, which merged with the Poplar City Library last year, is seeking an annual county compensation increase from $17,500 to $20,000.
The library is now an affiliate library of the Roosevelt County Library System.
The commissioners voted to go into negotiations with FPCC over compensation.
The commissioners also approved repairs to rain gutters at the Wolf Point Library by Friesen Construction for $6,400.
In another matter, the commissioners approved $1,850 to Friesen Construction for replacement of a wood fence on the east side of the senior center in Wolf Point.

Montana, North Dakota U.S. Attorneys Announce Creation Of Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force

Federal and state law enforcement officials from Montana and North Dakota announced last week the creation of the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force.
Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter and Acting U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Chris Myers, joined North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to announce the Strike Force, a multi-agency effort aimed at identifying, targeting and dismantling organized crime in the Bakken, including human trafficking, drug and weapons trafficking, as well as white collar crimes.
The announcement follows the 2013 creation of Project Safe Bakken, a collaborative law enforcement program in Montana and North Dakota that joins federal, state and tribal law enforcement to battle criminal activity in the Bakken.
The Bakken is a vast swatch of oil-rich land spanning approximately 200,000 square miles from eastern Montana, into North Dakota and north to Canada. It has resulted in dramatic influxes in the population as well as serious crimes, including the importation of pure methamphetamine from Mexico and multi-million dollar fraud and environmental crimes.
Strike Force members will be based out of Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Williston in North Dakota, and work with designated prosecutors to staff and prosecute cases.
“The Strike Force will have the capability of not only dismantling local criminal organizations in the Bakken, but also to take out the national and international components of these organizations wherever they may be located,” said Acting North Dakota U.S. Attorney Chris Myers.
“The strike force will take a regional approach to a regional problem, coordinating with Montana law enforcement.  We value the strong partnerships already developed with Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in this fight,” he said.
Cotter said Project Safe Bakken has already resulted in 210 federal narcotic prosecutions in Montana, in addition to numerous other prosecutions involving complex financial fraud, worker endangerment, and the transportation of hazardous materials.
“The Bakken’s criminal impact transcends borders and so should our law enforcement response,” Cotter said. “The Strike Force is a welcome addition to our existing multi-jurisdictional law enforcement efforts in the region.”

DEQ, Oelkers Agree To Resolve Underground Storage Tank Act Violations

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced that Oelkers, Inc. has agreed to resolve violations of the Montana Underground Storage Tank Act that occurred at Oelkers Service Center in Culbertson.
According to the DEQ, Oelkers failed to conduct a compliance inspection in a timely manner, conduct leak detection monitoring, and correct violations within the allotted timeframe established by DEQ.  
Shasta Steinweden of DEQ’s Enforcement Division explained that without proper leak detection, regulated substances could be released into the environment without the owner’s knowledge.
Oelkers has agreed to conduct leak detection monitoring, submit results of the leak detection monitoring to DEQ, obtain a reinspection and pay a $960 penalty.