Written by Devon Boen
The Sept. 17 Wolf Point City Council meeting was filled with more unfamiliar faces than usual. The council’s August decision to remove the picnic tables from Triangle Park in an effort to curb the crimes committed in the area received extensive backlash from the community, and several residents attended to voice their opinions on the matter.
One resident urged the council to reconsider the decision, and mayor Dewayne Jager responded, saying the issue would be going back to the parks and recreation committee for further review.
When asked to elaborate on why the motion was being looked at again, Jager said it stemmed from public outcry against the decision. He said the council received numerous complaints and felt it was necessary to take the community’s sentiment into consideration.
The board then heard from police chief Jeff Harada who cleared up rumors surrounding the Fort Peck Department of Law and Justice.
Harada said the Wolf Point Police Department received information saying there was a resolution out from the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board advising tribal police officers to not patrol the business areas of Wolf Point and Poplar.
Harada had collected all the recent resolutions from the tribal executive board and found there was no formal resolution calling for the change, but said he spoke with a tribal law enforcement director who stated this was recommended to tribal officers and they were told to focus on housing and other priorities of the department.
This led to a more in-depth discussion of officer patrol areas and what should be considered the responsibility of the WPPD versus the tribal police.
Councilman Sonny Douglas had a few suggestions regarding the patrol area of Wolf Point officers.
“Maybe we should start patrolling from Fairweather north, instead of worrying about down in the [tribal] housing [areas], which aren’t in the city limits,” Douglas said.
Douglas went on to say there was no proof the area south of Fairweather Street was within Wolf Point city limits and he believed Wolf Point officers would have more time to patrol areas like Triangle Park and control crime within the city.
The council said it couldn’t definitively say where the line was drawn and it would do further research to determine if the area south of Fairweather was annexed into the city limits or not.
Tribal councilman Stoney Anketell and Tom Escarsega from the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water Supply System then spoke to the board about making its water pipeline available to the City of Wolf Point. The two men said it provided excellent water across the Fort Peck Reservation and ASRWSS would like to negotiate with the City of Wolf Point and provide water to the area.
Jager said he would refer it to the Water and Water and Improvement Projects committee who could further pursue any possible negotiations with ASRWSS and the tribal executive board.
The council unanimously approved raising the rates on garbage cans and rings for those who live outside the city garbage service area. Council members noted rising costs of the cans and rings as the sole reason for the price increase.
Jed Kirkland appeared in front of the council and gave an update on the Interstate Engineering project on Front Street. He said the construction was nearly complete and they would finish the job under the contract budget.
In fire news, councilman and volunteer firefighter Chris Dschaak spoke about the intense season the Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department has been experiencing.
He said two or three fires in the past week burned over 20,000 acres of land in the area. Both Dschaak and the council expressed their gratitude for the firefighters’ hard work and long hours and urged community members to thank the volunteers if they had the opportunity.
Dschaak also said the Firemen’s Ball is Oct. 13 and tickets are currently on sale.
In airport news, the board said the improvement/wildlife study was completed and authorized the mayor to sign a letter to FAA regarding grant funds. City clerk Marlene Mahlum said funds were used from the incorrect grant and would need to be reimbursed to FAA, who in turn would reimburse the city for the amount plus a little extra. She stated the funds simply should have come out of a different grant and the mistake would need to be corrected.