Written by Devon Boen
The Herald-News continues its review of 2012 this week, beginning with June’s highlights.
June brought discussions in a school board meeting about whether or not an assistant principal should be hired at Southside Elementary School. There were mixed opinions on whether or not the addition would be a good idea and the board also considered creating a payroll claims clerk position.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a resolution that would allow Wolf Point and Poplar TV districts to go digital.
Ray Dolin, 39, of West Virginia, was reportedly hitchhiking across the country in order to write a memoir on human kindness. On June 9 in Valley County, Dolin reported he was shot in the arm by a passing motorist. Four hours after the shooting, police arrested a Washington man who fit Dolin’s description. A police investigation revealed Dolin had purchased the gun he was shot with just a week earlier in West Virginia. The man arrested in the shooting was cleared of the charge since his GPS placed him far away from the crime scene at the time of the shooting.
Roosevelt County voters passed both a public safety mill levy and a road fund mill levy.
Mid-June marked an end to the possibility of hiring an assistant principal at Southside Elementary School. Despite Southside principal Eileen Karge’s request to hire someone, the board decided against it.
The Fort Peck Tribes approached the Wolf Point City Council and requested renaming Custer Street as Crazy Horse Street since the current name is considered offensive by some due to its historical connotations. Mayor Dewayne Jager referred the issue to the streets and alleys committee and agreed to consider the proposal.
Dennis Martinez and Kristopher Lehto were arrested on multiple charges including ones related to the production of crystal methamphetamine. The two men were pulled over during a traffic stop and were voluntarily taken in for questioning. Lehto allegedly admitted to producing the drug and enlisting the help of several people to obtain the necessary precursors. Martinez would allegedly drive Lehto to remote locations to produce the drug.
The Fort Peck Tribes offered to lease the district office building from the Wolf Point School District for $8,000 per month. This offer came following an initial offer from the tribes to purchase the building, but the school board was not considering selling the space at that time. The school board was more interested in the prospect of leasing but no final decisions were made on the issue in June.
In July, the Wolf Point Board of Adjustment denied a proposal for two apartment triplexes on the north side of town. The developer, Hank Elliot from Crystal River Construction, had already scaled back the project, reducing the number of units in each complex from four to three. This was not enough to placate the concerns of the board and community members. The board voted it down on June 20. Elliot argued the area needed housing especially since oil was bringing more people into town. Community members had mixed sentiments, but ultimately the project was not approved to move forward.
Bridget Smith worked in 2012 to have Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford removed from his elected position after he allegedly threw a man through a window on Aug. 11, 2011, in a Lewistown bar. Smith needed to gather 866 signatures within three months of March 22, its filing date, to be able to put his recall up for public vote. Smith said the petition received less than 400 signatures.
July brought the beginning of what would become a high-profile case in Roosevelt County. Levi Haren, James Carpenter and Darian Damm were accused of breaking in the Val-Am convenience store in Culbertson and stealing over $5,500. All three were charged with multiple felony burglary charges.
A final decision was made on the possible re-naming of Custer Street. Community members and Tribal Executive Board members stated the name was offensive considering Wolf Point is part of an Indian reservation. The issue was referred by mayor Dewayne Jager to the streets and alleys committee but the committee declared on July 11 that would not move forward with any changes.
Barry Beach, a man accused of killing Kim Nees on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in 1979, was released with conditions after 28 years of incarceration while he awaited a retrial. Beach still awaits a new trial, but was granted permission in July to live on his own from a Fergus County District Judge.
The Wolf Point School board was in the process of working out an agreement to lease the district office building to the Fort Peck Tribes. The initial offer from the tribes was for $8,000 per month for six months, but the school board stated it wanted at least a one-year agreement at $6,000. A motion passed to approve the leasing agreement, but more steps would be necessary to make the deal final.
At the Roosevelt County Commissioners’ meeting, it was announced that Sheriff Freedom Crawford wanted to start a capital improvement fund to raise money for a new jail. Crawford requested all excess funds from the sheriff’s office be put in the improvement fund at the end of the fiscal year. The Roosevelt County Commission’s presiding officer Gary MacDonald, as well as commissioner Jim Shanks, agreed raising funds for a new jail was undeniably important and stated the county would match whatever funds the sheriff’s office raised for the project.