- Written by John Plestina
The veteran educator who taught at Wolf Point High School for nine years and was slated to return to become district superintendent turned down an offered contract.
Jim Baldwin, originally from Culbertson and currently of St. John, Wash., was the top finalist for the position. The second choice to become superintendent, Monte Silk, withdrew from consideration.
As of early afternoon, Wednesday, April 29, it is not know what course of action the Wolf Point School Board will take. They are likely to begin the advertising, application and interview process for a third time.
Current superintendent Joe Paine leaves June 30 for a new position in Grenora, N.D.
- Written by Bill Vander Weele, Sidney Herald
Michael Keith Spell, one of the two men involved in the murder of Sidney teacher Sherry Arnold, was sentenced to 100 years in the Montana State Prison by District Judge Richard Simonton Friday.
None of the sentence was suspended. Spell will be eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years of the sentence.
“I’m relieved the process has reached its conclusion,” Gary Arnold, husband of Sherry Arnold, said. “The judge supported his decision with clear, concise reasoning.”
Despite a strong closing argument by Defense attorney Al Avignone that Spell could be committed to the director of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, Gary Arnold said he felt Spell would be sentenced to prison partly because of how much county attorney Mike Weber and deputy county attorney Tom Halvorson kept the family informed.
“I was comfortable, that it was going to turn out the way it turned out,” Gary Arnold said.
Before making the ruling, Simonton said, “The impact that this killing has from the family, Sherry Arnold’s friends and this community has been great. I can’t even imagine what Sherry’s family has gone through and is going through with her unexpected death.”
Simonton said the issue was whether Spell was under the influence of Lester Waters, who was sentenced for 100 years with 20 years suspended for the homicide, enough that he was forced to commit the crime.
“I don’t believe he was. I don’t believe the Defense met its burden,” Simonton said.
Although the Defense argued that Spell should get a shorter sentence than Waters because Spell cooperated with authorities earlier, the judge noted Spell didn’t report to law enforcement. It was his family who contacted law enforcement. Simonton said the two men almost attacked two other women during their trip from Colorado to North Dakota. When they saw Sherry Arnold in Sidney, Spell did some more crack cocaine. When Spell came close to Sherry Arnold, she smiled and he smiled back. Spell then turned around and grabbed the victim from behind. Spell claimed that he felt Arnold was just passed out and he and Waters dragged her into the vehicle. When Waters and Spell went to Wal-Mart, Simonton said Spell didn’t ask anybody for help or try to leave.
Simonton noted that the sentences for Spell and Waters weren’t the same.
“One big difference is that it was Mr. Spell who murdered Sherry,” Simonton said. “Waters is the one who entered into the initial plea agreement and agreed to testify against Spell.”
During Avignone’s closing argument, he asked for a sentence of not greater than 100 years with 20 years suspended with the Department of Health and Human Services.
He noted putting Spell, who suffers with an intellectual disability, in the Montana State Prison would be cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
“If you send him to the Montana State Prison, he’s done,” Avignone said. “He never gets a chance.”
During his closing argument, Weber noted Spell was voluntarily under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine when he committed the murder. “Granted Mr. Waters did provide the drugs, but this defendant voluntarily consumed the drugs.”
He argued that Spell wasn’t under Waters’ influence. “The State’s theory is that Mr. Waters wasn’t even present” when the homicide took place.
Dr. Craig W. Beaver, a witness for the Defense, testified that Spell, 25, was able to understand the difference between what was right or wrong at the time of the homicide, but he was not able to confirm his behavior due to the influence of Lester Waters.
Beaver testified that Spell was fearful of Waters and that fear along with being intoxicated at the time influenced Spell. When interviewing family members and educators, Beaver said they described Spell as being very much a follower who relied on adults for direction.
Beaver said that family members were fearful of Spell traveling with Waters to North Dakota because Waters could take advantage of the situation. Beaver said Spell told him that Waters talked about people he killed in the past and that he had a knife and a gun. Spell also told Beaver that at one point Waters threatened to sexual assault Spell.
According to a Gudjonsson test, Spell’s score indicated that he could be easily influenced.
Beaver recommended Spell be placed in a setting where there are trained and knowledgeable people in dealing with intellectually disabled adults.
When asked by county attorney Mike Weber, Beaver agreed that Spell drank alcohol and used marijuana and crack cocaine voluntarily during his trip to Sidney with Waters.
Judge Simonton asked Beaver if he felt it was strange that Spell didn’t mention his fear of Waters to the probation officer during the pre-sentencing investigation.”Yes, I think that’s unusual,” Beaver said.
Ronald Cummings, a private investigator hired by the Defense in July 2012, said he has had about 60 contacts with Spell. Cummings said Spell mentioned that Waters threatened to kill and also sexually assault Spell.
Judge Simonton asked Cummings if Spell was threatened by Waters before or after the murder in Sidney. Cummings said he felt the threats came after the crime. When asked by Defense attorney Al Avignone, Cummings said threats were made to Spell during the trip regarding if he told anyone about the other murders that Waters talked to Spell about.
- Written by Jaimee Green
Terrie Turbiville, a nurse at Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson, scans a barcode at the nurses station.
(Photo by Jaimee Green)
As operational expenses continue to increase and stricter regulatory standards have come into place, automated data collection has become a necessity in the healthcare industry. For Roosevelt Medical Center, incorporating a barcode system for tracking supplies is the next logical phase of implementation of their electronic health records system.
This further expands RMC’s use of integrated technology, going beyond the mandated federal requirements outlined through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health [HITECH] act.
“Both inexpensive and user-friendly, barcodes provide a reliable tool for tracking a variety of data, from pricing to inventory and even over consumption. The ultimate result of a comprehensive bar coding system is reduction in overhead and savings in time and money,” said Sharon Schmitz, better health improvements specialist for RMC.
Hospital materials management can be extremely time-consuming and prone to human error from manual data entry. By introducing barcodes to mobile terminals, RMC can now easily control inventory supply areas, track equipment in use and make sure that the right supplies are available and delivered on time to the patient.
Before the system was implemented last month, nursing staff had to count their supplies twice a week to report to the Materials Management Department what items needed to be ordered. Now, as nurses go about their day scanning the materials as they use them, that information is instantly stored into the Tech Time EHR system, and can be easily retrieved.
Supplies used by patients can also be directly scanned to the patients ID bracelet, helping ensure an accurate account of charges. Items not chargeable to patients, such as tissues and gloves, can also be tracked. The scanning also makes it easier to track items that arrive damaged or become outdated and have to be sent out of the facility.
Also, at the end of the fiscal year, it will no longer be necessary to conduct large, year-end supply counts, because all of that information will be retrievable from the system.
As another part of RMC’s diligence in keeping pace with technology, they continue to encourage patients to sign up for the Health Vault, an internet portal system that enables patients to view and access their medical records on-line from anywhere, at anytime. The Health Vault contains many functions that ultimately enable patients to be more directly involved in their care.
Once a patient is signed up, they can privately exchange messages with their provider, access critical health information in an emergency and manage, see, and share records securely. Patients can even track their weight, nutrition and the amount of steps they take each day if they are on a fitness or healthy eating regiment. There are also printable health information cards that can be used when traveling.
“We are hoping more people will take advantage of this convenient technology because it is helpful and completely confidential,” said Brian Fordyce, Information Systems Director for RMC. By logging onto healthvault.com, patients can get started at any time.
Through the three Meaningful Use stages of the HITECH Act, technology is supposed to improve quality, coordination, safety and efficiency while engaging and empowering patients by creating a superhighway of electronic information that can be accessed with the touch of a button.
Once all of the stages of implementation are completed in 2016, it is hoped that meaningful use compliance will result in better outcomes for patients and more robust patient information.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: Responses to a candidate questionnaire by Bainville School board candidate Michael Keefner were inadvertently omitted in the April 23 Searchlight.)
Why did you declare yourself a candidate for the school board? What do you hope to accomplish as a school board member?
I declared myself as a candidate for the Bainville School Board because I believe having someone who has worked for the school is an asset. I was the music teacher at BHS for two years, and I saw a number of things that I would like to see improved upon.
I hope to continue the work the previous boards have begun with improving the school facilities, bringing Bainville into the forefront of technological advancement, and ensuring that the quality and breadth of knowledge that is received at Bainville remains at the same high standards it has enjoyed for years.
What do you see as being the major issues facing the school district?
Teacher turnover is high on my list of items to address over the next few years. Keeping up with technology advancements, as well as implementing quality professional development for our teachers also rate very highly as issues I wish to address as a board member.
What other areas of the school system do you feel are the most in need of improvement? How would you address those areas?
Professional development that is offered by many companies is lacking in depth and actual “development.” This fact is not truly realized until after a company has been paid and they arrive to spend half of their time talking about their company, and the other half giving vague ideas and feel-good pats on the back. Teachers should feel as though they are being challenged to engage in their professional development. I would like to see a committee created to investigate the professional development that is offered to our teachers and ensure that we are giving our teachers effective tools to engage and teach our students.
What areas do you feel have the most and least needs for spending by the school district?
Improving the technology at our school needs to have a focus. Because of strained budgets, it is difficult to buy technology [computers, laptops, iPads] that is consistent with the current national pulse. Often schools find themselves buying very baseline or outdated technology, which stunts the growth of our students, who will need experience with these technologies if they are to succeed in the future.
The district has spent quite a bit of money in the last few years developing teacher housing. At least six houses have been bought in the last five years. It is wonderful to have an incentive, but money needs to be used for other resources than housing.
If any programs need to be cut in the future due to a budget shortfall, what would you cut first, second and third?
I believe that every program at a school is important, and no program is less important than another. Budgets can be trimmed elsewhere before anything is cut: reducing energy consumption by ensuring power is off in areas it is not needed, installing and utilizing water fixtures that consume less water, applying for grants and donations to cover for items, such as school supplies, there are many ways to save money. Cutting a program only hurts the students, because it takes away from the quality of education they should be receiving. That is what I want to ensure continues, the quality of education for our students at Bainville Schools.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News and The Searchlight to help keep the public informed and to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Monday, April 27, 10 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Fort Benton Detention Center was holding one male to alleviate overcrowding.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between April 20 and 27:
•Joel Campos, 37, Las Cruces, N.M., felony possession of dangerous drugs;
•Douglas Culbertson, 45, Houston, Texas, driving under the influence;
• Jason Daugherty, 37, Wolf Point, criminal possession of dangerous drugs [two counts], criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, attempted assault on a peace officer or judicial officer and resisting arrest;
•Joshua Eagle, 21, Poplar, federal warrant, transferred to Great Falls;
•Amelia Holly Hackman, 32, Scobey, contempt of court from Sheridan and Daniels counties;
•Joseph Laturell, 52, Bainville, partner/family member assault, sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated kidnapping;
•Robert Lindquist, 41, Chattoroy, Wash., criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence;
•Anthony Jerome McClendon, 55, Culbertson, driving under the influence, driving motor vehicle while privilege revoked;
•John Mincey, 47, Poplar, theft - first offense;
•Timothy Oglesby, 31, Wolf Point, sexual intercourse without consent and incest, awaiting sentencing;
•Micah Pew, 30, Wolf Point, probation violation, hold for 72 hours;
•Jesse Antonio Rodriguez, 20, Wolf Point, driving under the influence, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of dangerous drugs and warrant for criminal contempt, bonded out;
•Wesley Stearns, 42, Havre, contempt of court;
•Jarod Weyrauch, 30, Wolf Point, probation violation;
•Carroll Wells, 34, Fairview, felony theft and burglary.