CS Masthead

Commissioners Deny Added Compensation To Justice Court Judges, Jury Commissioner

A decision by the Roosevelt County Commissioners to deny additional compensation to three county elected officials during a special administrative meeting Monday, Aug. 3, has all three raising questions.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to deny the jury commissioner and the justices of the peace in Wolf Point and Culbertson up to $2,000 in annual compensation above base salary.
The Montana legislature passed a bill earlier this year allowing for the added compensation for the three positions.
Jeri Toavs, who serves as clerk of 15th District Court, jury commissioner and Roosevelt County superintendent of schools, said the matter should have gone before the Compensation Board first for a recommendation. That action is not required.
When asked the reason for the decision, commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said, “no additional workload.”
“I would second that, exactly,” commissioner Allen Bowker of Culbertson said.
Toavs said she met with Nygaard and Bowker Thursday, Aug. 6.
“I told them, ‘You have no idea what I put into this,’” Toavs said.
“There is additional workload and we’ve had more juries than in the past. We’ve had to pull more people into our [jury] pool because of the number of juries that we’ve had,” she said.
“I’m disappointed, of course,” Culbertson Justice of the Peace Penny Hendrickson said.
“There was nothing to tell us why they were denying it,” she said.
Hendrickson and Wolf Point Justice of the Peace Traci Harada met with the commissioners July 1, asking that compensation be approved.
“We had asked for Judge Harada and I to sit in [when the decision was made] and we were never notified. It was a public meeting,” Hendrickson said.
She cited the work load for both justices and said she thought the justices had a substantial case when they met with the commissioners on July 1.
“We are the only elected officials that are required to take certification,” Hendrickson said.
“It’s kind of frustrating when the commissioners will give themselves compensation,” she said.
“I sent in a claim for mileage for coming to Wolf Point [to meet with the commissioners on July 1] and they denied it. They claimed it was personal business,” Hendrickson said.
“I believe my right to participate was violated because I received no notice,” Harada said. “I saw no posting, was not notified by email or phone.”
She said she had asked specifically when the meeting would be held when she and Hendrickson met with the commissioners July 1.

Correction

Culbertson resident Gene Marchwick asked the Culbertson City Council if a neighbor’s horse barn could be relocated away from his rental property, due to the smell it was producing. He did not ask that the horses be moved outside the city limits.

Sorensen Donates Quilts To RMC Alzheimer’s Unit

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Pictured is Roosevelt Medical Center nurse Terrie Turbiville displaying some of the donated quilts. (Photo by Jaimee Green)

The seven residents who call Roosevelt Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Unit home are enjoying the warmth of colorful blankets following the recent donation of hand-stitched quilts made by Linda Sorensen. Her father, Russell Oelkers, called Roosevelt Medical Center home for about one year before his passing.
“Older people are often cold and many of them are chair-bound. I thought this was a way I could honor my father, while also making the residents more comfortable,” said Sorensen, of the McCabe area.
Wanting little recognition for her efforts, Sorensen stated she simply wanted to make sure the quilts were used and enjoyed by the residents.
“The quilts are amazing. We are always inspired by the thoughtful donations given to our facility. They enhance the lives of our residents and continue to show the strong support we have from our community,” said Audrey Stromberg, administrator for RMC.

Local Men Arraigned On Federal Drug Charges

Two Roosevelt County residents were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate John T. Johnston and pleaded not guilty to all charges in U.S. District Court in Great Falls July 29.
Indictments had been handed down by a federal grand jury.
Shanley Leonard Bighorn, 30, of Brockton faces charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm not registered in the national firearm registration and transfer record.
If convicted of the most serious charges contained in the indictment, Bighorn faces life in prison, $10 million in fines and five years supervised release.
Paul Darrell Red Eagle Sr., 27, of Poplar is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
If convicted of the most serious charges contained in the indictment, Red Eagle faces life in prison, $10 million in fines and five years supervised release.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and the Bureau of Indian Affairs investigated both cases.

Charge Dismissed In Alleged Amtrak Rape; New Charges Could Be Filed

Charges were dismissed in 15th District Court on Wednesday, July 29, against an Amtrak employee who was alleged to have committed a kidnap and sexual assault onboard a passenger train that was passing through Roosevelt County in April.
Wolf Point Police arrested Charles Henry Pinner, 59, of Detroit, Mich., on April 19 following allegations that were made against Pinner. He had been charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual intercourse without consent, both felonies.
The charges were dismissed without  prejudice, meaning that charges could be refiled.
Further investigation was the reason given.
Pinner had been free on bail since July 15, when District Judge David Cybulski granted a bond reduction from $50,000 to $5,000 with a requirement that he have a GPS monitoring system before he was released, have standard conditions and to stay in contact with his attorney at all times.