- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Roosevelt County Disaster and Emergency Services director Dan Siet-
sema presented an article to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Tuesday, Oct. 14, about an accident on the Mississippi River involving a barge carrying Bakken crude oil.
The monthly LEPC was held at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Siet-
sema noted high levels of benzene in the crude, measuring 40.2 parts per million with federal OSHA standards set at 5.0 as the recommended safety level. Sietsema added that the MSDS sheet for Bakken oil is 17 pages long.
That accident near New Orleans, La., in February occurred when a tank barge collided with a tow boat, spilling some 31,500 gallons of Bakken crude into the river, resulting in the closure of a 65-mile stretch of river, according to several online reports.
- Written by John Plestina
Judge David Cybulski accepted guilty pleas from Malinda K. Bibb under plea agreements in two separate drug cases and denied a bond reduction in 15th District Court, Wednesday, Oct. 15.
Bibb, 31, of Minot, N.D., withdrew several previously entered not guilty pleas in both cases against her.
Bibb’s troubles with the Montana court system began 13 months ago.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a car carrying Bibb, Brandon J. Bigham, 30, and Jamie D. Vert, 36, all of Minot, on U.S. Hwy. 2, near the North Dakota state line, Sept. 20, 2013. Vert was driving, according to the charging documents.
Methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and weapons [no firearms] were found in the vehicle, according to charging documents.
All three were subsequently arraigned on felony charges. Bigham and Vert pleaded not guilty to all charges and both later withdrew guilty pleas under plea agreements.
Thirteen months ago, Bibb pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. She was lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail for several months and released in May on $20,000 bond.
Under the plea agreement, Bibb pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs. The county attorney will move to dismiss other charges against her from the September 2013 arrest, according to court documents.
New charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs, carrying dangerous drugs on a train, both felonies, and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia were filed against Bibb after Wolf Point Police Department officers boarded an Amtrak Empire Builder train, Monday, Sept. 8, on a warrant for alleged bail condition violations.
Under the plea agreement for those charges, Bibb pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs. The county attorney will move for dismissal of the other charges.
According to court documents, Bibb has acknowledged that she is not eligible for deferred imposition of sentence because of prior convictions.
The county attorney has recommended four years confinement to the Montana Department of Corrections with two years suspended and treatment at Elkhorn Treatment Center in Boulder, a lockdown methamphetamine treatment center for women.
Bibb admitted in court, Wednesday, Oct. 15, that she possessed methamphetamine at the times of both arrests.
Cybulski found her guilty and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation.
Defense attorney Frank Piocos asked for a bond reduction. It is set at $50,000.
“Are you going to be dumb enough to do what you did last time you were out?” Cybulski asked Bibb.
A Williston, N.D., man in the courtroom said he previously posted $20,000 bond for Bibb. He said he was confident she would not violate bail conditions.
Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said he has spoken to Bibb’s probation officer in Minot, N.D., and that he was told she has failed drug tests.
Cybulski denied bond reduction.
“If you want to blame somebody for your problems, you should look in the mirror,” Cybulski told Bibb.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Judge David Cybulski heard arraignments and initial appearances in 15th District Court, Wednesday, Oct. 15.
Kyle Fuchs, 32, of Culbertson was arraigned for disorderly conduct, partner/family member assault, assault with weapon, unlawful restraint and criminal endangerment. He pleaded not guilty to all five charges.
Cybulski said in court that Fuchs is accused of pointing a shotgun at his wife.
A trial is scheduled for Dec. 11.
Kelly Marie Severson, 47, of Saco made an initial appearance, but not an arraignment and no pleas were entered because her attorney was not present.
Severson, who is lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail, is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
She was ordered to appear in court for an arraignment Oct. 29.
Bruce Johnson made an initial appearance on a petition to revoke probation.
His attorney was not present. Cybulski advised him to speak to his lawyer before admitting or denying allegations that he violated probation conditions.
Johnson was ordered to appear in court for a hearing Wednesday, Oct. 29.
- Written by Jason Frederick
Dear friends and neighbors of Roosevelt County:
Our jail is in dire need of replacement and we have the opportunity on Nov. 4 to make it happen. The importance and urgency of this matter can’t be overstated. If we fail to act soon, the financial impact our taxpayers will face in the near future could be enormous and far above the relatively minor cost of replacing the structure now.
Our jail is woefully outdated and has been at capacity or above for a long time. The problem was compounded following a legal action recently brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union, resulting in our bed capacity being cut nearly in half. Simply put, we don’t have the room to accommodate all the offenders we’re bringing in. Felony arrests, particularly for narcotics-related offenses, have risen sharply in the last five years and continues to climb.
When we exceed our capacity, overflow Roo-sevelt County inmates are housed in other facilities, some as far as 400 miles away. The financial burden this puts on our taxpayers is enormous and the costs are only going up. The detention officers and deputies do a commendable job, but there are limits to what can be accomplished with the resources available. Plus, a lot of the costs associated with housing inmates in other facilities are completely out of control.
We are working hard to remain in compliance with federal guidelines, but our jail is old and some issues just can’t be corrected without building a new facility. If Roosevelt County lost a lawsuit stemming from the inadequacies of our jail, we would be required to build a new jail on top of paying out to satisfy a judgment against us. We are between a rock and a hard spot here, folks; one way or another, we have to build a new jail.
The projected cost of building a new 60-bed facility is approximately $11.86 million.
The building would be constructed on property the county already owns, near the existing courthouse in Wolf Point. Estimated cost for a residential taxpayer on your primary house at $100,000 would be around $47 per year. The greatest share of the cost of the expanded jail would be born by the 15 largest taxpayers of the county, including utilities, pipelines, oil production equipment and commercial agriculture entities.
In the event Roosevelt County didn’t need all 60 beds, those extra beds would be leased out to neighboring counties, thereby offsetting a large amount of the operating costs of the jail. Several other counties in Montana operate this way and their taxpayers see a huge savings as a result.
The majority of the voters during the June primary voted in favor of building a new jail, but since the voter turnout was relatively low, a 60 percent majority was required for it to pass. We missed out by only a few percentage points last time, so it won’t take much to put us over the edge. I’m asking everyone to please pass the word to your neighbors, family and friends to come out on Nov. 4 and vote in favor of building this new jail.
Sheriff Jason Frederick, jail administrator
(Paid Letter To The Editor)
- Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners discussed moving forward in the near future with a four-county partnership to share a human resources professional, during the weekly commission meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Roosevelt, Valley, Daniels and Sheridan counties would share the employee.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said a lawsuit could have been avoided if the county had a human resources person in place when former sheriff Freedom Crawford fired a deputy a few years ago.
Commission chairman Duane Nygaard said that situation was an example of the need for a human resources person.
Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen will look into legal issues related to the county participation.
To date, only Roosevelt County has not approved the agreement.
The commissioners accepted a recommendation from Sheriff Jason Frederick to reinstate the terminated employee, identifieded on the commission meeting agenda as Steve Barr.
In other business, the commissioners approved a one-year law enforcement agreement with Bainville, Culbertson and Froid.
The agreement provides the three communities with a minimum of 24 hours of combined law enforcement services per week. A little more than half of that time is to be spent in Culbertson.
The annual fees the county is assessing each municipality is as follows: Bainville, $10,000; Cul-
bertson, $22,000; and Froid, $7,500.
Macdonald said Sheriff Jason Frederick told him he would not oppose the agreement for one year but he wants it revisited after one year.
The commissioners also awarded a contract to Shane Bishop of Malta for $3.50 per ton to crush gravel.