Written by John Plestina
The old Kenco Refinery site east of Wolf Point will require a major clean up if plans for a new refinery are approved. (Submitted photo)
The former Kenco Refinery east of Wolf Point, now closed 29 years, could be the site of the proposed Fort Peck Clean Energy Campus that could include a new oil refinery that would serve the Bakken Oil Field.
Ken Elliott and Steve Houston, doing business locally as Wolf Point Green LLC, purchased the former Kenco site in December 2011 with plans to build a new refinery that could accommodate 20,000 barrels daily, a wind farm and solar and geothermal energy production. There are also long-range plans that include greenhouses heated with energy produced within the site and a commercial fish farm.
“Ours is what is called a clean-energy campus,” Elliott said.
The alternative energy produced on-site would partially power the refinery.
“If the refinery is the only thing that is built, we are missing the mark,” Elliott said.
He said he envisions a hotel at the site and a rail terminal that would serve the oil industry and promote oil industry development in Montana.
“There are 15 crude oil terminals in North Dakota. We’ve got none in Montana,” Elliott said.
He said the refinery and rail terminal could be built within two to three years.
Elliott hopes to create a substantial number of jobs that people living in the Wolf Point and Poplar areas could benefit from. Elliott said he wants to employ Native Americans and veterans.
The site, located about six miles east of Wolf Point on Montana Hwy. 13, is about one half mile south of U.S. Hwy 2. There is an abandoned oil refinery, which has been reported as being in operation from 1965 to 1985. Elliott said the refinery actually opened in 1963.
One major hurdle lies ahead. A cleanup of an estimated 315,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil is estimated by a recent study to cost about $30 million. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the cost at $25 million in 2008.
The EPA declared the former Kenco refinery a superfund cleanup site in 1997. It is a designated Brownfield site where expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the property might be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
Wolf Point Green is working with the Wolf Point headquartered Great Northern Development Corporation and the Eastern Montana Brownfields Coalition. The two organizations are administering the Clean Up Revolving Loan Fund and Assessment Grant for petroleum and hazardous substance cleanup.
“This is a significant Brownfield site,” Elliott said.
He said he hopes to recycle about 750,000 gallons of old product by running it through the future refinery.
There are also several tanks at the site with old product that has turned into sludge.
Elliott said GNDC contacted him several years ago about the Kenco site.
Elliott, who lived in Colorado at the time of the purchase, said he now lives in Wolf Point. He also is president of the Colorado-
based Fidelis Environmental Risk Management which represents clients Brownfield site developments, environmental construction and other services.
“There’s obviously a cleanup solution. It’s a matter of how much it’s going to cost,” Elliott said.
“Because of the proximity to the Bakken and the need for diesel in the area, there is a heck of a need,” he said.
Currently, much of the region’s crude oil is leaving the Bakken headed south for refining. There is only one small refinery in North Dakota, located at Mandan.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners voted Tuesday, May 13, to sponsor a $500,000 grant GNDC is writing for Wolf Point Green to help pay for the Kenco cleanup.
The commissioners approved a letter of support for Wolf Point Green in January 2012.
Written by John Plestina
Several people from Roosevelt County offered comments on draft recommendations for a Lower Missouri River Basin water plan during a public meeting in Wolf Point Wednesday, May 7.
The meeting held in the Elks Club addressed water rights and water management, and was the fourth and final meeting the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation held with water users. Previous meetings were held in Harlowton, Havre and Lewistown.
The Lower Missouri River Basin Advisory Council is seeking public input on a recently completed draft report of recommendations. The policy document will be finalized later this month and forwarded to the DNRC in June. The DNRC is scheduled to adopt and print the final plan by Dec. 5. It would then be forwarded to the Montana Legislature.
Lawmakers amended the state water planning statute in 2009 requiring the DNRC to update the state water plan and directed the DNRC to report back to the 2015 Legislature.
Basin Advisory Councils were established in the Lower Missouri, Upper Missouri, Clark Fork and Yellowstone river basins during the summer of 2013, which coincided with the start of the Montana Water Supply Initiative project to update the state water plan the Legislature requested.
Draft recommendations include requesting legislative funding for additional research on the state’s aquifers, completion of the water rights adjudication process, possible new off-stream water storage sites and seeking funding partners for expanding and maintaining the network of streamflow gauges.
Adjudication of claims is one of several issues that were raised during the Wolf Point meeting.
“It’s hard to develop a plan if you don’t resolve claims first,” BAC facilitator Bill Milton said.
“Just because you have a legal claim on water, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use it and put it to good use,” he said.
Dwight Vannatta of Bain-ville said there are people he knows who have concerns about adjudication.
Milton, who is from Roundup, also addressed aquifer development and management.
“If you compromise the quality of the water in the aquifers, you jeopardize it,” he said.
Milton also said there were comments during previous public meetings in other towns that the draft didn’t go far enough to address protection of fisheries.
Milton said irrigators don’t have a clear understanding of fisheries.
DNRC water planner Mike Downey of Helena said most irrigation companies don’t share information from streamflow gauges.
“It would certainly help us,” Downey said.
There was a discussion that more gauges might be needed locally.
Vannatta said he would like to see gauging at the confluences where smaller rivers and streams flow into the Missouri River to provide more accurate information.
“A lot of gauges were being eliminated. We’re going backwards,” Culbertson area rancher Dick Iverson.
Milton said there is consideration of continuing with the basin advisory councils beyond the current process.
Downey posed a question of whether the people at the meeting felt the local group was effective or if sub basins would be a better option.
“What works in this area are ad hoc type committees,” Rhonda Knudsen of Culbertson said.
The draft report is available at www.dnrc.mt.gov/mwsi or by contacting Wendy Beye at 406-320-2124.
The Basin Advisory Council will look at public comments on the draft plan in the Fort Peck Interpretative Center at Fort Peck Wednesday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public testimony will not be taken at that meeting.
Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County’s new DUI Task Force discussed asking 15th District Court to establish a DUI Court sentencing diversion program Wednesday, May 7.
The DUI Court Program, in existence nationwide since the 1990s, uses substance-abuse interventions and treatment, and is dedicated to changing the behavior of alcohol and drug dependant offenders arrested for driving under the influence. DUI Court uses a premise that most repeat offenders are alcoholic.
So far, the Fort Peck Tribal Court is the only court in Roosevelt County that has embraced the DUI Court program and orders participants to attend 12-step recovery meetings and obtain attendance verification signatures.
Seventh District Court which includes Dawson, McCone, Prairie, Richland and Wibaux counties uses the DUI Court program.
An increasing number of judges across the nation have accepted that they cannot jail their way out of the ever-increasing drunk driving problem and are sending people convicted of DUI to the DUI Court program.
DUI Court was modeled after the Drug Court program, established in Miami-Dade County, Fla., in 1989. Today, Drug Court is used in many locations across the nation and there are hybrid DUI/Drug Court programs in use in several judicial districts in Montana.
Fort Peck tribal members who have felony status DUIs enter the DUI Court program, locally administered as a 12-month, four-stage program that includes substance abuse treatment, daily check-ins, positive activities and required attendance of 12-step recovery meetings.
Failure to comply with the requirements result in sanctions that could include jail.
“The inn is full will major criminals,” Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford said.
The aging Roosevelt County Jail cannot accommodate the current volume of offenders. Roosevelt County voters will consider a bonding measure Tuesday, June 3, asking for authorization for the commissioners to issue and sell $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years that would fund a modern and larger jail.
“Hopefully, after June 3, we’ll have another inn,” Crawford said.
“They need help. They don’t need jail time,” Roosevelt County Commissioner Gary Macdonald said during the last DUI Task Force meeting.
“I want to get our judges to do it,” he said, referring to a possible DUI Court in 15th District Court.
Fort Peck Tribes probation officer Courage Crawford said if 15th District Court establishes a DUI Court, services for clients who are not tribal members would be available through Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center in Poplar.
Medicine Wheel, a cultural-based spiritual healing circle, is a spin-off of the DUI Court program. The group that addresses alcohol, drug and other addictions meets every Friday in both Wolf Point and Poplar and is open to the public.
“We talk about the reasons why they drink,” Courage Crawford said.
In addition to Medicine Wheel, there are 12-step recovery program meetings in Wolf Point and Poplar.
The Montana Department of Transportation funds the DUI Court program.
Written by Culbertson Searchlight
Seniors from Bainville and Froid will graduate Saturday, May 17, while Culbertson seniors graduate Saturday, May 24.
Bainville’s 11 graduates will graduate in the school Saturday, May 17, at 11 a.m.
The graduates are Russell Bowker, Anthony Curtis-Lozano, Stephanie Egemo, Rhett Harmon, Caylee Holcomb, Chance Hyatt, Don Johnson, Haakon “Tuff” Jorgenson, Aaron Knudsen, Bree Rhodes and Daniel Wendt.
Hyatt is the valedictorian and Rhodes is the salutatorian.
Froid’s eight graduates will graduate in the new gym Saturday, May 17, at 1 p.m.
The graduates are Cheyenne Danielson, Andy Engelke, Tanner Holtan, Layne Johnson, Alicia Mason, Dallas Reiland, Kassandra Smith and Raymond Smith.
Johnson is the valedictorian and Reiland is the salutatorian. The speaker will be teacher Duane Larsen.
Culbertson’s 20 graduates will graduate in the school Saturday, May 24, at 1 p.m.
The graduates are Kendra Bets His Medicine, Taylor Bridges, Shayne Cochran, Grace Cooper, Ella Crowder, Christian Damm, Sam Fell, Braden Froehich, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Austin Lambert, Paxton LaQua, David Manning, Charmayne Necklace, Erica Nickoloff, Renee Oelkers, Alexus Olson, Taylor Primeau, Courtney Sorteberg, Alexander Walker and Colton Zahn.
Oelkers is the valedictorian and Sorteberg is the salutatorian. The guest speaker will be Pastor Al Beyer.
Written by Nancy Mahan
The Culbertson Museum Board met Monday, May 12 and discussed repairs needed because of water damage from rain and melting snow from the last two years.
There have been leaks in the quilt and archive rooms with water taking down ceiling panels, saturating insulation and settling in light panels. Options are being explored.
Potholes on the road were filled and scoria was spread in more of the potholes, and in the parking area.
Last fall, the sign 1.7 miles east of the museum was knocked down. One of the three posts which supported it was snapped off at the ground. The sign itself, is in good condition. It will be attached to a piece of old equipment on the same site.
A local man contacted the museum about a display. The museum board is working with the Thresher’s to borrow a display case to use for seasonal displays. A 6-foot long, 28-inch deep, 42-inch tall case is needed.
A change to the museum by-laws was approved after the required two readings.
Item 4.7 will now read: “A quorum for any meeting shall consist of five members present in person, by proxy, or by electronic connection.” Previously, the quorum was 12 members.
Several large fluorescent bulbs need to be replaced in the bank room. A source for these bulbs will be explored so that the burned out bulbs can be changed out.
It was decided to use some of the Faye Meissel memorial money received from the Class of 1973 to purchase a two-wheel dolly to replace the current one.
Adding an additional security camera for areas of the museum that are not currently visible with the existing camera was discussed. An estimate will be sought.
The north wall of the meat room still needs to be finished and shelves put up. Daylight can be seen in one corner of that room. Estimates will be needed for the project. The north wall in the blacksmith shop is also in need of repairs. There are lots of holes in it and it moves in the wind. This needs to be fixed before there is any damage to the building itself.
It was discovered at the time the museum closed last fall, that the pulley at the top of the flagpole was damaged and the rope fraying.
The museum held its winter fundraiser on Super Bowl Sunday with a nice turnout. Homemade soup was served with rolls and ice cream.
The museum opened for the season on Mother’s Day with 40 people coming through the door.
The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and the coffee is usually on.