- Written by John Plestina
The Great Northern Development Corp. board discussed supporting funding legislation during the nonprofit regional development corporation’s quarterly meeting, Thursday, Oct. 9.
The Eastern Montana Impact Coalition will draft legislative bill, with a goal of obtaining as much as $90 million for needs in the 16 counties in eastern Montana.
“We’re taking a swing at $90 million,” GNDC executive director Martin DeWitt said.
He said House Bill 218 from the last legislative session would be used as a basic template for the draft of the new bill.
HB 218 was a bipartisan bill that was intended to require the Board of Oil and Gas to administer a grant program for oil and gas impacts and would have set up a $15 million annual fund to help local governments impacted by oil and gas development.
HB 218 started at $75 million, was whittled down to about $30 million by the time it had passed in both houses of the Legislature and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock.
In other business, DeWitt reported that he met with several people in Billings in August, including Ken Elliott of Wolf Point, a partner in Wolf Point Green, the developer that is hoping to clean up the 110-acre former Kenco Refinery site a few miles east of Wolf Point and develop a “clean-energy campus,” that would include a new refinery and rail terminal within about four years. DeWitt’s report included that plans are to move forward with the project.
Wolf Point Green purchased the property in December 2011. Long-range plans, according to Elliott, include a wind farm and solar and geothermal energy production that would partially power the refinery. There are also plans to build a hotel and greenhouses heated with energy produced within the site.
DeWitt also reported that the second round of construction bidding has been completed for the Wolf Point Village apartment complex development that is slated for the northern edge of Wolf Point. A first round of bids during the summer came in too high. A groundbreaking date has not been determined.
GNDC is currently administering a federal HOME Program grant for $750,000 for the development and construction of the 24-unit affordable housing complex that is anticipated to be complete and open to tenants by summer 2015.
In another matter, DeWitt reported that funding applications have been submitted for the proposed Sand Creek Winds wind farm development near Vida.
GNDC has been working with Sand Creek Winds since 2012 to determine the feasibility of a 75 megawatt wind farm to be located on 18,360 acres of private lands in northern McCone County. So far, a feasibility study and system impact study have been completed with the assistance of a $119,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant and a $21,000 Big Sky Trust Fund Grant. GNDC is currently working with Sand Creek Winds on securing additional funds to move forward with an environmental assessment.
It was announced that a public meeting addressing the wind farm project will be held at the school in Vida Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.
The board also voted to accept online donations for community and business development funds and to make that option available on the GNDC website. The board will review that decision at the next annual meeting in July.
The GNDC board also heard a teleconference presentation from a Vancouver, Canada, fundraising company that seeks private foundations as funding sources. The cost to GNDC would be $8,995 for a five-year-membership. The representative of that company said there is a money-back guarantee. The board made no decision, but might revisit it in the future.
The United States Economic Development Administration and the State of Montana have certified GNDC as a nonprofit regional development corporation that serves a six-county economic development district, consisting of Roosevelt, McCone, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and Garfield counties. The Fort Peck Tribes is also a member.
GNDC was incorporated in October 1995 and has remained in continuous operation.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Bainville Town Council set a mill levy but did not pass a budget for the current fiscal year during in a special meeting, Thursday, Oct. 9.
The amount of the mill levy, whether it differs from last year and the reason the budget was tabled until a future meeting were not provided to The Searchlight.
The council also discussed a temporary building for a new town office with no decision. The council rejected an offer from an oil company for a “skid unit” trailer. The town will look at the possibility of building a permanent structure.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Red Ribbon Week at Culbertson High School will be Monday through Friday, Oct. 27, through Oct. 31.
The themes will be as follows: Monday, “Follow your dreams, wear pajamas”; Tuesday, college clothing and dress for a future career; Wednesday, wear hats; Thursday, tie-dye and hippy clothing; and Friday, Halloween costumes.
Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. Although the start ans end dates can vary slightly depending on the organization and source, Red Ribbon Week generally takes place the last full week in October, with the weekends before and following the last full week included as appropriate celebration dates.
Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of drug free America.
And, perhaps more importantly, Red Ribbon Week commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who died at the hands of drug traffikers in Mexico while fighting the battle against illegal drugs to keep our country and children safe.
The Red Ribbon Campaign also became a symbol of support for the DEA’s efforts to reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
This past year has been a real test for the volunteers at the Culbertson Food Bank. With the reduction in government subsidies and SNAP or Food Stamp program, people with small children, the elderly and unemployed are finding their food in short supply.
Recently, the Montana Food Network of Missoula published that one in five children in Montana are starving.
The Culbertson Food Bank has been depending on the communities of Culbertson, Bainville, Froid, the Fort Peck Tribal Council and area churches to help with food and finances. The volunteers of Culbertson and Froid are joined by people from Bainville and rural Brockton to stock and distribute food to those in need.
Children from Culbertson School and two area 4-H groups brought in several boxes of canned goods, fruit and personal care items.
The food bank is looking for some organization or a group to come up with a donation of turkeys to support families during the holidays. Now is the time that turkeys have to be ordered in time to supply those needy people.
The Culbertson Food Bank is the only food bank in Roosevelt County and it is only with the hard work and dedication of the volunteers that serve so generously with their time and labor that keep the doors open.
The food bank is always in need of money and food, and donations are appreciated. Checks may be sent to Hometown Market in Culbertson or Froid Grocery and mark checks for the Culbertson Food Bank. Checks may also be sent to The Culbertson Food Bank, P.O. Box 189, Culbertson,
- Written by Bill Juve
The county commissioners are planning several presentations [that began Tuesday, Oct. 14] on the need for a new jail and upgrade to the existing building. This issue was on the primary ballot, but it failed due to voter turnout so they were fully aware of the need.
Then, they took $455,000 a year that could have been used on the jail to give themselves and others a second generous pay raise. They had already received a cost of living raise.
The bond request for the jail is a 20-year deal and the almost $12 million needed is only an estimate at this time. The money the commissioners removed from the operating budget over 20 years amounts to $9.1 million. The second raise they approved is ongoing as long as the oil severance tax remains stable at the current level or increases. However, the commissioners have the sole power to change the use of this money.
If the need for a new jail was and remains so critical, why wasn’t this $455,000 put toward that use?
The Montana Code Annotated 15-36-332 (3) states in part: “... oil and natural gas production taxes for each county must be used for the exclusive use and benefit of the county.”
Was a raise for a privileged few the best use of our tax dollars or should it have gone to more pressing needs? The three county commissioners must have thought so.