CS Masthead

Voters Elect New Tribal Chairman, Vice Chair And Keep Most Executive Board Members

Voters of the Fort Peck Tribes elected a new chairman, vice chair and sergeant-at-arms, while returning many of the incumbent executive board members in the election held Saturday, Oct. 31.
All were elected to two-year terms.
Floyd Azure was elected chairman; Charlie Headdress Sr., vice-chairman; and Jestin Dupree, sergeant-at-arms.
Azure, a past chairman, was elected with 537 votes. Barry Bighorn finished second with 400 votes. Larry Wetsit was third with 369 votes, John Morales fourth with 231 votes and Garrett Big Leggins fifth with 215.
Headdress defeated incumbent Patt Iron Cloud 578-497. Wayne Two Bulls finished third with 469 votes and Levi Olson Sr., was fourth with 197.
Dupree was elected sergeant-at-arms with 510 votes. Emerson Young finished second with 415 votes. Incumbent John Weeks was third with 267 votes, Richard “Coke” Chase with fourth with 207 votes, Llewellyn “Tote” Gray Hawk was fifth with 171 votes, Art Greybull was sixth with 96 and James D. Buckles was seventh with 81.
For the executive board, the top finishers at-large reservation wide were elected.
Incumbent Grant Stafne was the top vote getter, receiving 763 votes.
The other incumbents reelected were: Terry Rattling Thunder, 639; Stacey Summers, 626; Marva Chapman, 574; Pearl Hopkins, 552; Tom Christian, 538; Dana Buckles, 495; Roxanne Gourneau, 444; and Ed Bauer, 438.
Others winning election were: Tony Shields Sr., 539 votes; Lonnie Headdress Sr., 487; and Leonard Crowbelt, 461.
Tribal Court judges were elected by popular vote for the first time.
Stacie Crawford was elected chief judge, defeating acting Chief Judge Danna Runsabove 1,067 to 566.
For associate judge positions: Marvin Youpee Jr., 741 votes; Mike Headdress, 723 votes; and Imogene Lilley, 685 votes.
Voters also defeated a referendum to amend the Tribal Constitution that would have allowed staggered terms for elected officials. Only 580 people voted in favor of the measure and 992 cast no votes.

Tax Bill Line Item Is Not New Levy

Roosevelt County treasurer Betty Romo put to rest taxpayer concerns that a new county-wide education line item on tax bills is not a new levy.
Some people questioned the line item when they received new tax bills last week. Most taxpayers received substantial increases.
Montana law requires that tax bills be mailed by Oct. 31, allowing 30 days for the first half of the new tax bill to become due.
Romo said the $37.52 county-wide education line item is not new.
It is $22.41 for elementary retirement and $15.11 for high school teacher retirement. It was lumped in with the state school levy last year.
The line item also includes transportation, but there was enough cash carry over that additional funds were not levied for transportation this year.
“I like it better because when I go through my tax statement, it makes it a lot easier,” Romo said.
She said the county superintendent of schools collects the budgets from the six school districts in Roosevelt County and determines how much is required for transportation and elementary and high school retirement contributions for teachers and staff.
“As the money comes in, we disburse it to the school districts, so basically it goes to the schools,” Romo said.

Dry Prairie Water Reaches Milestone During 2015

The historic three-party water service agreement between the United States Government, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation and Dry Prairie Rural Water was signed Feb. 24 and will allow the delivery of water from the regional water treatment plant near Wolf Point to it’s off-reservation partner Dry Prairie.
In July, water was made available to Dry Prairie by the Assiniboine Sioux Regional Water System. The first delivery of water off the reservation was made to a meter vault located near U.S. Hwy. 2 on the eastern boundary of the reservation. Dry Prairie was then able to begin delivery of regional water to its east side service area, which included service to over 700 rural customers and the communities of Fort Kipp, McCabe, Bainville, Froid, Medicine Lake, Homestead, Dagmar and Antelope.
Each of the communities and all of the rural services were slowly converted to the new water source over a two-week period.
The Town of Culbertson has supplied water since 2006 on a temporary basis for the Dry Prairie project while the regional plant was being constructed.

Montanans Still Living In 406

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that actions taken by the Montana Public Service Commission has extended the life of 406 as the exclusive area code for the entire state of Montana.
With population increases and correlating phone number growth in the state, the exhaustion of the 406 area code will eventually force the state of Montana to adopt an additional three digit area code. The original projection released by the FCC in 2013 predicted exhaustion of the 406 area code by 2019. The Montana PSC took immediate action in an effort to delay that exhaustion forecast by requiring mandatory number pooling by phone service providers in the state.
The FCC’s updated forecast for exhaustion of the 406 area code as a result of the PSC’s actions is now projected in the year 2022. The FCC requires planning for a new area code to begin three years in advance of the forcasted area code exhaustion date.
In response to the FCC’s updated forecast, PSC Commissioner Roger Koopman, R-Bozeman, said,
“We are very pleased to find out that our actions have kept the whole state of Montana ‘the 406’ for a while longer, and we are looking for any way possible to extend the exhaustion deadline out even further. It’s likely that the state will eventually have to adopt an additional three digit area code to accommodate growth, but we hope to push that off for as long as possible, as we know our single area code is a matter of pride for many Montanans.”
A key part of the extension of the forcasted exhaustion deadline is cooperation from Montana telecommunications providers with access to numbering resources, which have been very helpful in the number pooling process.
Montana is one of 12 remaining states with a single area code.  
To view the PSC’s 2013 order requiring mandatory number pooling, visit http://1.usa.gov/1NDJXQs.

Plan To Extend Health Coverage To Thousands Of Montanans OK’d

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved a plan to extend health coverage to thousands of Montana residents. Gov. Steve Bullock, Sen. Ed Buttrey and Holly Blouch of Kalispell made the announcement Monday, Nov. 2.
This bipartisan plan makes health coverage available to individuals and families who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $16,000 per year for an individual and $33,000 for a family of four.
Coverage is offered through a private insurance company following the model of the successful Healthy Montana Kids health care program. Montana is the only state in the nation to take this unique approach.
The federal government covers the entire cost of this expansion until 2017, and will continue to cover no less than 90 percent of the cost after full implementation.
“For nearly three years, thousands of Montanans have worked and waited for our state to extend health coverage to our friends, neighbors and family members. Today, I’m pleased to say that wait is over,” Bullock said. “This plan will bring Montanans’ tax dollars home to expand access to quality affordable healthcare, throw a lifeline to our state’s struggling rural hospitals, and reduce the cost shifting to those of us fortunate enough to have insurance.”
Bullock signed the Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership [HELP] Act into state law April 29, making Montana the only state this year to pass healthcare expansion legislatively. But federal approval was required before the new law could move forward.
Montanans can apply now for the new HELP Plan for coverage that will begin in January.
“Today, we celebrate this announcement not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Montanans,” said Buttrey. “Montanans who care about each other, rely on each other, and today celebrate together as we start down the path to a healthier and more prosperous Montana.”
“Medicaid expansion means my life, no exaggeration. Now I can finally get on the list for a kidney transplant ― and get the surgery I need now to be able to start dialysis to keep me alive until I can get a transplant. A rare disease that I have has caused my kidneys to fail and my life to spiral downward. I lost my full-time job, my health insurance and my hope for a spot on the transplant list,” Blouch said. “Today’s news brings me new hope. I’ll be able to get the healthcare I need, get back to full-time work, and have my life back. This is everything to me.”
This uniquely Montana plan also includes limited premiums and co-pays to encourage personal responsibility. In order to offer incentives for healthy behaviors, there are no co-pays for preventive services, such as health screenings, help to quit smoking, and getting a flu shot.
For more information, go to the DPHHS website at healthcare.mt.gov.
There are multiple ways to apply for coverage:
•Online at healthcare.mt.gov.
•Over the phone at the Federal Marketplace at 800-318–2596, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
•In person by going to any local community health center or Office of Public Assistance.
DPHHS is partnering with private sector and community health care providers to get information out to eligible Montanans about how to apply for the new health plan.