- Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force discussed possibly funding drug training for local law enforcement officers during the monthly meeting Wednesday, July 1.
Members of the task force attended the Alcohol Summit in Bozeman in May.
One of the presenters was Boise, Idaho, police officer Jermaine Galloway who makes presentations to law enforcement and schools around the western states.
Galloway addressed alcohol and drugs in rural communities and physical, visual and verbal identifiers of drugged driving, and recognitions of symbols of the drug world.
Galloway, while addressing members of several Montana law enforcement agencies and representatives of DUI task forces from across the nation in Bozeman, warned of gimmicky alcohol promotions that appeal to young people, including inexpensive energy drinks spiked with 6 percent or more alcohol and easily available in some convenience stores, and low-cost alcohol variations that might be easily available to minors in some stores and on the Internet. He also talked about the availability of edible marijuana and people traveling to Colorado and returning with marijuana purchased legally in that state.
The task force will look into the possibility of bringing Galloway to Wolf Point.
“That [alcohol summit in Bozeman] was one of the best three days I’ve spent,” county commissioners Gary Macdonald said.
The county received $10,950 for the task force as funding allowed by House Bill 132 that Gov. Steve Bullock signed into law in April. It reallocates unspent special revenue funds from driver’s license reinstatement fees collected in counties that do not have task forces and distributing those monies on an equal basis to Roosevelt and the other counties that have task forces on July 1 of each year.
Macdonald said more funding is coming this year, but he did not know the amount. He initially anticipated about $18,000 for Roosevelt County, but that amount has shrunk because of an increase in the number of DUI task forces in Montana from 34 to 38. The increase is due to the passage of HB 132 and funding it created.
During the May 6 meeting, the task force discussed using part of the funding to establish one county-wide scholarship for a graduating high school senior in 2016. They also discussed establishing an essay or poster contest for junior high and younger students next year with first-, second- and third- place financial awards.
Several meetings to organize a DUI task force in Roosevelt County were held between late 2013 and April 2014 when the county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force. The group that had been meeting as a steering committee comprised of elected officials, law enforcement and county residents, approved by-laws during its first official meeting Wednesday, May 7.
Macdonald chairs the task force. The other officers are: Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada, vice chair; Mary Vine, who also serves as coordinator for the task force, secretary; and Kahlil Wehbe, treasurer.
Participation is sought by members of the public. For more information, contact Vine at the Health Department.
The DUI Task Force meets the first Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m., in the conference room at the Courthouse North Annex on Custer Street across from the courthouse, which houses the Roosevelt County Health Department and Wolf Point Senior Citizens’ Center. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.
- Written by Nancy Mahan
A Culbertson man was seriously injured when he was struck and run over by a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Stagecoach Bar, late Friday, July 3.
According to witnesses, Lee Damm had reached into the back seat of a pickup truck when the driver pulled forward knocking him to the ground. The driver then ran over Damm and fled the scene. Damm was flown to Billings early Saturday morning. He was reported to have suffered fractured ribs, a pelvic fracture and received stitches in his left leg.
The driver was reported to be a Caucasian man with a passenger, a Native American man. They drove a gold colored dodge pickup.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Corey Reum said Tuesday that the RCSO has leads as to the identity of the driver and is continuing to investigate.
The public is asked to contact the RCSO with any information that could help locate the two men.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Thick smoke generated by about 200 wildfires burning hundreds of miles north in Canada continues to be a problem in northeast Montana.
Smoke has invaded the area for more than a week.
The National Weather Service in Glasgow has contacted several county and tribal health departments in the region about ongoing smoke issues.
NWS reports that it anticipates smoke will continue on and off with different levels of severity for several weeks.
At one mile or less visibility, NWS will issue dense smoke advisories.
NWS reported that 3,678,884 acres were burning in northern Saskatchewan, northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories Tuesday, July 7. It has also been reported that about 318,000 acres were burning in British Columbia, resulting in some smoke invading northern Montana.
Smoke has been reported as far south as Oklahoma and Arkansas and as far east as Illinois.
Health precautions include staying inside an air-conditioned building with windows closed. N95 masks are recommended for people who have to be outside. Cloth painting masks are not going to help.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The Montana Public Service Commission will review a request from Montana-Dakota Utilities for an $11.8 million, or 21.1 percent, rate increase for its approximately 25,000 customers in eastern Montana. MDU filed the “rate case” on June 25.
The increase to the average MDU ratepayer is estimated to be about $14.80 per month. The Montana PSC must by law issue an order on the rate case within 270 days after MDU filed the request. MDU’s last general electric rate review was in 2011, when the Montana PSC approved an increase of just over 6 percent.
“The increasing regulation of energy production proposed by the federal government has concerned me ever since I was elected to the Commission,” said PSC District 2 Commissioner Kirk Bushman, who represents Custer County. “Utilities like MDU will have to continue to invest millions to meet new federal requirements, and I expect utilities will continue to request larger rate increases than they have in years past as a result of these costly regulations. The Montana PSC will most assuredly review the proposal by Montana-Dakota Utilities to determine if it meets all the necessary standards, including providing long-term benefit to Montana-ratepayers.
Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Travis Kavulla represents northeastern Montana, including Sidney, Glendive, Plentywood and Wolf Point where MDU electric customers are located. He said, “We will review the request to determine if the utility took the most cost effective approach to supply their customers with energy.”
MDU’s application asks the Commission to authorize a 10 percent return for the capital invested by the company’s shareholders. In addition to increasing the per-kilowatt-hour charge for energy, it would also increase the fixed monthly charge. MDU is also asking the Commission to approve additional “rate riders” on customers’ bills related to environmental and transmission costs. It also includes a proposed revision to the net-metering tariff under which customers who generate their own electricity are credited for excess production.
To view Montana-Dakota Utilities’ news release regarding the rate increase request, visit http://www.montana-dakota.com/utility-menu/news.
- Written by Culbertson Searchlight
The sixth annual Eastern Montana Veterans Stand Down will be held at the Richland County Events Center in Sidney this year on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event’s primary focus is to connect homeless or at-risk veterans with services to assist them with their daily struggles.
However, the stand down is open to all who have served.