Written by John Plestina
An Amtrak employee who is alleged to have committed a kidnap and sexual assault onboard an Amtrak train that was passing through Roosevelt County on April 19 made an initial appearance in 15th District Court Wednesday, May 13.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff's Office identified the defendant as Charles Henry Pinner, 59, of Detroit, Mich.
Undersheriff John Summers said Pinner works for Amtrak and is based in Chicago, Ill.
An online search shows Pinner living in Detroit with several previous addresses in Los Angeles and two other cities in California.
Sporting long dreadlocks, a beard and gray stripped jail suit, Pinner appeared before District Judge David Cybulski where his charges were read. He did not have an attorney and pleas were not entered. Pinner is scheduled to appear for a full arraignment Wednesday, May 27.
The charging documents show two counts filed against Pinner of sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated kidnapping. Each felony charge carries maximum penalties of 100 years imprisonment.
Summers said Pinner was working onboard Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder route that stops in Wolf Point April 19. A woman who was a passenger onboard that train made the allegations to Amtrak. The federal Amtrak Police Department detained Pinner in Chicago. APD transported Pinner to Fargo, N.D., where he was held temporarily.
Summers said the woman who made the allegations is not from Roosevelt County.
He said APD contacted the RCSO about the allegations April 30.
The Roosevelt County Attorney’s Office filed the charges against Pinner May 1.
Sheriff Jason Frederick and jail administrator Melvin Clark drove to Fargo and brought Pinner back to Wolf Point Tuesday, May 12.
RCSO Sgt. Patrick O’Connor and federal APD detectives based in Havre and California worked on the investigation.
Written by John Plestina
Federal and tribal investigators have said little about a man severely injured by a shotgun blast at a Wolf Point residence Sunday, May 17.
The Wolf Point Police Department responded to a 911 call that a man had been shot at a residence on the 900 block of Fourth Avenue South at 6:16 p.m.
WPPD Sgt. Ryan Michaelsen said the victim was severely injured by a shotgun blast.
The 24-year-old man was transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus. Later, he was flown to a Great Falls hospital.
The WPPD was not further involved as the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation took over jurisdiction.
Authorities have not identified the man.
Attempts to gather information from both agencies were unsuccessful as of presstime.
Written by John Plestina
The newly elected trustees of the Wolf Point School District voted to reopen and advertise the soon to be vacant district superintendent’s position during a special meeting Thursday, May 14.
During a second special meeting Monday, May 18, board chairman Mark Kurokawa said there are applicants the old school board interviewed that have expressed new interest.
Applications are currently being accepted until Wednesday, May 27.
Possibly making encore performances as interim superintendents are former WPSD superintendents Paul Huber and Eileen Karge. Former Circle and Brockton superintendent Michael Radakovich was also discussed. All are currently retired. Huber lives in Wolf Point. Karge and
Radakovich live in Fort Peck.
Whether any of the three will make another entry remains unknown.
Possibly not really gone from consideration for the position is former Wolf Point High School teacher and athletic director Jim Baldwin, who applied for a permanent superintendent position, was interviewed, offered the position the day after he was interviewed and turned down an offered contract April 29.
Baldwin, originally from Culbertson and currently of St. John, Wash., was the top finalist among three people interviewed in late April. He has 39 years experience in education, taught at WPHS for nearly a decade from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, was athletic director and head coach of the Lady Wolves girls’ basketball team. Baldwin is also former superintendent in Choteau.
Kurokawa asked for thoughts about the superintendent search from individual board members during the May 14 meeting.
Board member Linda Hansen said the board has two choices, either make a new offer to Baldwin or readvertise the position.
Hansen also said a new window is opening because the six trustees are a new board.
Vice chair Brandon Babb said with the board change, the district should contact people considered in the past and previous superintendents.
Trustee Lanette Clark said the position could be advertised statewide and local candidates could apply.
She said she does not want have to accept an only available candidate.
Current superintendent Joe Paine said the board chair could call people who have been interested in the position and past superintendents.
Kurokawa said if the district advertises for two weeks, holds interviews and fails to get an accepted offer, there might not be a new superintendent in place by July 1.
He asked if the board could bring in candidates for interviews without readvertising. Paine said that could be done.
“I think at this stage of the game, that’s where I would advise you to go,” Paine said.
He recommended using the Montana Office of Public Instruction website to advertise.
“Our pool of qualified candidates is shrinking,” Paine said.
Kurokawa said he contacted Baldwin about reconsidering the position. He said Baldwin expressed concerns about the salary, which is below state and national averages, and about working a four rather than five-day work week.
Kurokawa said Baldwin told him he has interviewed for a position elsewhere and was waiting to hear if would be offered a position.
Kurokawa said May 18 that he had not contacted Baldwin again since the May 14 meeting.
He also said he had not contacted any past superintendents and wanted to wait.
“You want a superintendent who is going to be around and who is going to be visible,” Paine said.
“Time is definitely of the essence,” Babb said.
He added that many possible candidates could have already accepted offers from other districts.
Babb also said the district needs a superintendent with experience and leadership qualities.
The board is looking to up the ante to attract a superintendent candidate. By fattening the pot, board members hope to attract a viable applicant.
The average salary for superintendents in Montana Class B school districts is $89,000. The superintendent in Poplar earns $95,000 annually.
Wolf Point has set the pay scale between $80,000 and $90,000.
The board discussed a higher rate during the May 14 meeting but no on May 18.
The school district worked with Kerri Langoni of the Montana School Board Association to attract and screen applicants for the two unsuccessful attempts to fill the position.
It remains unknown if the new school board will work with the MSBA or advertise at the district level for applicants.
The board voted May 14 to void the contract with the MSBA.
The first round of applications while working with the MDBA resulted in invitations to interview extended to two top applicants in March. Both withdrew from consideration. School trustees then voted 4-0 during a special meeting March 30, to re-open the position for 10 days to again attempt to find finalists to invite for interviews, with the alternative available of hiring an interim superintendent. The result was interviews April 27 with Baldwin, Silk and one other candidate.
A permanent or interim superintendent will replace Paine, who submitted his resignation to become a principal in Grenora, N.D. Paine’s final day is June 15. He served the Wolf Point district 24 years as an educator and administrator; the past four years as district superintendent.
The school district wants a new superintendent to be in place July 1.
The district was paying the MTSBA $5,500 for the search and screening process and paid $5,000 for the same services two years ago. Additionally, the district pays the MTSBA nearly $10,000 for annual dues and has paid additional funds for legal issues.
Written by Herald-News
Ellen Sievers (left) and JoAnn Hibl of Wolf Point designed and made a historical quilt with nearly 20 pictures depicting local history for the Wolf Point Centennial celebration that will be held as a companion event with the 92nd annual Wild Horse Stampede in July. The combined four days of celebration and fun will make Stampede weekend the biggest ever with three days of parades, four nights of live music, three street dances, a resurgence of the Good Neighbor Days after more than four decades, a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, carnival and more. (Submitted photo)
Written by John Plestina
The Frontier School board passed the torch Tuesday, May 12, with Dave Kirkaldie taking over the chairmanship during a reorganization of the board.
Brandon Babb has held the chairman position. He becomes vice chairman, a position he also now holds on the Wolf Point School board, to which he was recently elected.
Babb and Bill Pew were reelected to the Frontier board by acclamation, with no opposition at the polls.
In other business, district clerk Linda Nygaard submitted a letter of resignation for the end of the current fiscal year, June 30.
The district will advertise for a replacement.
In another matter, the board chose a mustang logo to go on the new gym floor that will replace the current carpeted floor that has been in place 34 years. The gym and most of the school building were built in 1964.
The board also approved the hiring of teachers Ashley Fulbright, Kylie Schuster, Russell Johnson and Callie Raph.
Eighth-grade graduate Cole Melbourne was approved for a summer janitorial job.
In other business, the board approved a rental agreement with Northern Prairie Realty for a subsidized rental house in Wolf Point for a teacher.
Superintendent Christine Eggar called the district’s ability to offer subsidized rentals for new teachers “a good draw.”
The board voted to move regular school board meetings from the first Monday to the second Tuesday of each month.
In another matter, the board held a closed executive session followed by the expulsion of one student for attendance issues and not following policy.