Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County commissioners voted Monday, June 16, to amend the plat for the Prairie South Subdivision north of Bainville.
Four lots of the existing 40-lot subdivision will accommodate 16 duplex units.
There was a discussion about site cleanup. A consensus among the commissioners was that the builder would comply with a request to clean up the construction site. No conditions were added to the amended plat.
The commissioners also approved a claim for $68,793, the county’s share of the $137,587 a U.S. District Court judge ordered the county and the Wolf Point High School District to pay to the American Civil Liberties Union for court fees and costs in the settlement of the lawsuit that redistricts the Board of School Trustees.
It stems from a consent decree approved by a federal magistrate in April, after the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment that mandates the Wolf Point High School District to reduce the number of school board members to six, creating five districts with nearly the same number of residents and one at-large position.
The commissioners took the funds from county superintendent of schools Pat Stennes’ budget.
In another matter, the commissioners approved $1,700 the county recently received from the state to become a revenue line item for the DUI Task Force.
The board also approved a $25,000 home visiting grant from the Department of Public Health and Human Services as a revenue line item.
In other business, the commissioners reappointed hospital district trustees Dallas O’Connor and Jim Albertson.
Written by John Plestina
Although the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole announced Wednesday, June 11, that it rejected a clemency application from former Poplar resident Barry Beach, his attorney said the fight for Beach’s freedom is not over.
The decision by the three- member panel that heard testimony about Beach’s clemency application April 29 seemingly dashed Beach’s hopes that the full seven-member board would hold a full clemency hearing and commute his 100-year sentence with no eligibility for parole.
“Although the [parole] board suggested this is the end, it’s not the end. We are not going to give up on freeing Barry. This is not over by any means,” Beach’s attorney, Peter Camiel of Seattle, Wash., said. “There are a number of court options we are exploring.”
He did not elaborate except to say he is considering options with the Montana Supreme Court and the federal court system.
“While we are done with the parole board, we are not done,” Camiel said.
“We were profoundly disappointed. We think the reasoning of the board is illogical. We feel it is outside the statutes for clemency,” he said. “This exercise was in my mind a charade.”
Accused of the 1979 slaying of Poplar High School classmate Kim Nees and dumping her body in the Poplar River, Beach, now 52, was 22 years old when he was convicted in 17th District Court in Glasgow in April 1984 of a crime that occurred when he was 17.
His recent clemency application was partly based on a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that juvenile offenders can no longer be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The board rejected that position, saying the Supreme Court decision did not apply in this case.
In his latest application, Beach did not argue his innocence. Instead, his attorneys argued that circumstances had changed since his last clemency application was denied in 1979. The recent bid for clemency marked the fourth time since 1994 that the panel declined to hold a full clemency hearing for Beach.
An offender whose application previously was denied may apply again only if there is a substantial change in circumstances, parole board executive director Fern Johnson said.
People supporting clemency for Beach have said he showed model behavior in prison and when he was free for 18 months and living in Billings after a judge ordered a new trial in 2011.
“[The parole board] seem to be saying there is no changed circumstances no matter what,” Camiel said. “I think the decision was disrespectful of the people who support Barry,” he said, and added that he felt the board viewed Beach’s supporters as ignorant.
Gov. Steve Bullock wrote a letter in April asking the board to focus on Beach’s worthiness for parole and not on whether he is guilty or innocent.
The parole board received about 500 letters from people supporting clemency
with approximately 25 letters opposing Beach’s release.
The New Jersey-based prisoner advocacy group Centurion Ministries, whom Camiel is affiliated with, also has worked to free him.
Twenty of the more than 60 people who attended the April 29 hearing testified in favor of clemency for Beach, citing that he was a productive member of society and displayed good character while freed in 2011 awaiting a new trial. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013 overturned a Montana District Court decision allowing a new trial, sending him back to prison.
Bullock would have made the final determination on clemency had the board made a recommendation to him. He said in a statement that he was disappointed with the panel’s decision.
In their two-page decision, board chair Mike McKee and board member Pete Lawrenson wrote opinions opposing clemency. Board member John Rex signed the decision but did not issue statements.
Parole board director Fern Johnson told The Searchlight May 29, “I think we’ve gotten two of the three [individual decisions].”
Beach told the Great Falls Tribune after the parole board decision: “In January 1983, I was coerced into making a confession to a crime I did not commit by aggressive interrogators. In a lot of ways [the board’s] statement is the same sort of coercion. They’re saying, ‘We’re going to hold your freedom over your head until you confess.’ I have not ever accepted responsibility for this crime, and I never will. I did not kill Kim Nees.”
Beach could be eligible for “good time” credit leading to early release due to the law that was in effect in 1979. That would put a possible release date in October 2036. Beach would be 74 years old.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The 129th annual convention of the Montana Newspaper Association was held June 12-14 in Butte.
At the annual meeting, Cindy Sease, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, was elected president; Matt Bunk, The Western News, of Libby, was elected first vice president; Jacques Rutten, Lewistown News-Argus, was elected second vice president; and Darla Downs, The Herald-News and Searchlight, was elected third vice president.
The mission of the Montana Newspaper Association is to advance and sustain the news publishing industry in Montana.
Written by John Plestina
The Bainville School board approved a budget amendment, Wednesday, June 11, authorizing the school district to spend $200,000 from the building reserve to pay for two manufactured homes for teacher housing.
The resolution for the budget amendment was required before the district could spend the funds.
In other business, the board approved a $1 increase in the school lunch price. Beginning with the next school year, students will pay $2.50 and adults $3.50 for school lunches. Breakfast will remain free.
The board also discussed bus driver pay and voted to increase the rate to $18 per hour for activity bus drivers.
In other business the trustees hired Angela Iverson to teach fourth grade. She is from Brockton and lives south of Culbertson.
The board hired Heather Giese to be a preschool teacher and rehired paraprofessionals Stephanie Boone and Katherine Batt.
The board also approved activities director Tanya Wilson to be assistant girls’ basketball coach, April Wills for assistant volleyball coach, Jess Romo for assistant boys’ basketball coach and Toby Romo for junior high boys’ basketball.
The trustees approved several requests to admit out-of- district students from North Dakota and Culbertson.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center announced the seventh class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, June 7. The inductees were chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana.
“Our Hall of Fame voting process is organized around our volunteer trustees across the state and the election process gives the local community volunteers a direct voice in who from their area is being inducted,” said Christy Stensland, executive director of the MCHF. “Many assume that to be inducted into the Hall of Fame you would have to be a famous cowboy when, in fact, the Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their local community and serve as a symbol of this way of life for future generations. This is truly a celebration of our authentic Montana heritage and those who pass it forward.”
The MCHF board of directors has designated 12 trustee districts across the state from which up to 20 trustees may be appointed. Nomination criteria established by the board for the Class of 2014 inductions allowed the election of up to one Living Inductee and two Legacy Inductees from each of the 12 districts. In the case of a tie, winning nominees are jointly inducted.
The 2014 inductees into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame are:
District 1 (Daniels, Phillips, Roosevelt/Sheridan/Valley counties): Living Award – John Russell Cloud, Wolf Point/Great Falls. Legacy Award – Don H. Lee, Dodson and Edmund N. “Neil” Taylor, Scobey.
District 2 (Dawson/Garfield/ McCone/Prairie/Richland/Wibaux counties): Living Award – Donald Glen Weeding, Jordan. Legacy Award – Patrick Thomas “Spud” Cremer, Jordan/Big Timber and Berney Kempton, Terry.
District 3 (Carter/Custer/ Fallon/Powder River/Rosebud/Treasure counties): Living Award – Mary Margaret (MacKay) Ketchum, Plevna. Legacy Award – Odis Oren Harkins, Ekalaka and John Henry “Johnnie” Gilman, Miles City.
District 4 (Blaine/Chouteau/Hill/Liberty counties): Living Award – Loren Jenkins, Big Sandy. Legacy Award – Warrick Rodeo, Warrick and Roger Henry St. Pierre Sr., Box Elder (tie) and Fred Charles Henderson, Warrick (tie).
District 5 (Cascade/Glacier/Pondera/Teton/Toole counties): Living Award – (three-way tie) Chief Earl Old Person, Browning, Gary J. (Lone Bull) Schildt, East Glacier, and Truman “Mouse” Hall, Valier. Legacy Award – Ira E. Perkins, Bynum and Lyall Sturgeon Crary, M.D., D.D.S., Choteau.
District 6 (Fergus/Golden Valley/Judith Basin/Musselshell/Petroleum/Wheatland counties): Living Award – William W. “Bill” Lewis, Grass Range. Legacy Award – Peter “Pete” Vann, Geyser and Hazel Hash Warp, Harlowton.
District 7 (Big Horn/Carbon/Stillwater/Sweet Grass/ Yellowstone counties): Living Award – Lonnie Bell, Billings. Legacy Award – William C. “Bill” Huntington, Billings and John W. Moreland Jr., Big Timber.
District 8 (Broadwater/Jef-
ferson/Lewis and Clark coun-
ties): Living Award – Charles Robert “Bob” Masolo, Town-send. Legacy Award – Helena Trail Riders, Helena and Keith William Herrin, Helena.
District 9 (Gallatin/Park/ Meagher counties): Living Award – Arlene Haugland, Belgrade. Legacy Award – Raymond Andrew Kanne-gard, Wilsall.
District 10 (Flathead/ Lake/Lincoln/Sanders counties): Living Award – Charles E. “Charley” Lyons, St. Ignatius. Legacy Award – William “Ed” Schall, Arlee.
District 11 (Mineral/Missoula/Ravalli counties): Living Award – Dewaine Carlsen, Florence. Legacy Award – Hartley Lee Lambert, Stevensville and Oral Harris Zumwalt, Missoula.
District 12 (Deer Lodge/Beaverhead/Silver Bow/ Granite/Madison/Powell counties): Living Award – Jay Frederick Nelson, Jackson. Legacy Award – Jack and Ann Hirschy, Wisdom and Hubert Latimer “Tex” Smith, Dillon.
Since the initial round of inductions to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008, including this year’s inductions, 201 inductees have been honored. Full biographies for past inductees are available on the MCHF and WHC’s website, http://www.montanacowboyfame.org.