Written by Vicki Viall
lMonday, Jan. 20, was the beginning of a new era for the Wolf Point City Council. It was the first meeting for new mayor Christopher Dschaak, who ran for election after former mayor Dewayne Jager decided to not seek reelection.
There was no public comment and the minutes from the Dec. 16 meeting were approved.
Leading off the agenda was a presentation given by Martin DeWitt of Great Northern Development Corporation. He presented an in-depth overview of what they can offer the community, covering everything from USDA Rural Development Intermediary Re-lending Program and Community Development Block Grant Revolving Loan Funds to Brownfields.
Brownfields are sites on which construction is complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
He further shared that they are available to assist in the writing of grants.
The new housing project slated for the north side has been approved for $750,000. DeWitt stated that an architectural request for qualifications is not needed at this time. He will keep the mayor and the council advised on the status when that changes.
Since he is now mayor, Dschaak resigned as councilman. It was also noted that the council is accepting nominations for the now-vacant seat. The nominee must live south of U.S. Hwy. 2 and west of Third Avenue South.
A local government review must be prepared and sent to the county elections administration by March 10. The county and all municipalities must prepare a resolution, which is done every 10 years.
A report on the airport was given by councilman David Block. Also involved in this discussion was Lonni Fleck from Interstate Engineering. According to Interstate Engineering, a task order has not yet been prepared. This is prepared every five years and is mainly for drainage.
The park/recreation/cemetery/tree committee report was presented by councilwoman Lori Evans. Surveyors will be in town on Thursday, Jan. 23, and it is hoped they will provide what is needed to complete a revised form.
The planning board and board of adjustment and zoning commission was presented by Councilman Rollie Paulson. A $25,000 planning grant has been awarded for an updated land use plan. Plans are being drawn up for the annexation of the north side project.
The fire department update was given by councilwoman Judy Page. It was noted that the north side fire alarm is not working and that the residents are not happy. It is an ongoing issue and will stay on the agenda.
The police and animal control report was presented by Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada. He shared that the dog pound continues to operate with assistance from the Pound Puppies group.
Since the last council meeting, there have been 323 complaints responded to in the city by the WPPD and 81 citations issued. While complaints are lower by 23 than in December, his department has arrested or issued 81 citations thus far this year. There were also 62 arrests or citations during December. This is a 31 percent increase in arrests and citations. Officers patrolled 5,124 miles.
Harada attended a Roosevelt County Disaster and Emergency Services meeting with local emergency service agencies regarding the standardization of the local channels to improve communications in the local area.
His department provided assistance to the parade committee for the traffic control during the annual Christmas Parade of Lights.
Officer Joey Olsen graduated from the Montana Law Enforcement Academy Dec. 13.
Harada attended a Roosevelt County DUI Task Force organizational meeting.
Harada’s monthly departmental report showed:
Total criminal citations, 51; traffic, 12; civil, 18.
The breakdown by officers is: Harada, five; Erwin, 17; Michaelsen, eight; Corpron, 28; Wehbe, 21; and Olsen, two.
There were a total of 323 complaints and four accidents.
Sanitation was addressed by Block. The new landfill cover will be vinyl, but plans are still in the works and nothing has yet been finalized.
The update for streets and alleys was presented by councilman Craig Rodenberg, with assistance from public works director Rick Isle. While acknowledging that the streets need a considerable amount of work, grants for this are difficult to obtain.
Evans stated that the dehumidifier has been installed in the water improvement project. City clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum stated that, as far as the abatement of delinquent accounts, the city will collect on those accounts and will not charge new residents for debts that are not theirs.
Dschaak stated this is the last month that the legal action with Interstate Engineering has been settled. There is a forgiveness of $105,000 in fees.
Personnel was discussed by Paulson. No applications have been received for a maintenance worker II. Animal control has received applications and they are being sorted.
The purchase of a replacement vehicle for the police department should be completed by the end of January.
Mahlum received and invested a tax payment of $250,000 into a CD receiving 1 percent for three years. She also walked the council through the monthly activity report which is the same every month. She explained all the financial statements line by line.
City attorney Jordan Knudsen stated that corrections have been made to the business op/management agreement; however, it has not been sent back. He asked for assistance in contacting Rev. Steve Smith about his trailer parking permit. He is requesting a survey to confirm whether there are violations or not.
Isle delivered the good news that numbers with Cape Air are up drastically. He is on the verge of appealing the need for an additional flight.
Dschaak nominated Paulson to be designated as council president, which was approved.
The final business to be discussed was changing the signature cards for the new mayor to be added to the council’s accounts.