Written by Devon Boen
The Herald-News continues its review of 2012 this week, beginning with August’s highlights.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners set salaries for the 2013 fiscal year for county officials. The proposed salaries were approved, but by a 2-1 split vote. Commissioner Duane Nygaard didn’t believe the 4.5 percent raise officials received was a necessary expense. Commissioner Jim Shanks responded by reminding Nygaard the county needed to remain competitive with salaries since other counties were raising their salaries.
The commissioners discussed potential plans for a new jail. The commissioners passed an official resolution to put all unutilized funds from the sheriff’s office into an improvement fund that would help build the jail. Community member Bill Juve asked whether or not the fund would be effective. Both Crawford and the commissioners said the capital improvement fund would not be the only source of funding for the jail.
In court news, Levi Haren, the teenager accused of burglarizing the Val-Am convenience store in June in Culbertson, was told he would also face the charge of being a persistent felony offender. The charge stemmed from Haren’s previous charge of felony sexual intercourse without consent after allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. It also stems from Haren being convicted of six burglary charges in 2011, prior to the Val-Am case.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners discussed the need for a livestock scale. There was controversy surrounding the purchase because the county fair board approved accepting the lower of the two submitted bids, but the less expensive scale didn’t have the ability to weigh steers. The commissioners stated it made no sense to purchase a scale without that ability, so they discussed the possibility of borrowing a scale for the county fair.
Northeast Montana Health Services held a focus group in order to gauge community needs and wants. Community members discussed ambulance services, emergency services, etc.
Dennis Martinez, who was originally arrested in May on charges of unlawful operation of a clandestine laboratory and endangering the welfare of children, was arrested again just hours after his release from the Roosevelt County Jail. On Aug. 2, Martinez was arrested for burglary, assault and another charge of endangering the welfare of children.
The third week of August brought a bit of controversy to Roosevelt County. The commissioners found out the county fair board had already purchased the low-bid livestock scale even though it had not received permission from the commissioners. The commissioners stated that, per policy, any purchases over $500 had to be cleared with them first. Presiding officer Gary Macdonald said the incident would serve as a warning to others in the future.
The Fort Peck Tribal Police enacted the “Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over” campaign starting Aug. 17 through Sept. 3. The campaign was meant to crackdown on drunk driving and reduce the number of alcohol-related car crashes in the area.
The Wolf Point School board approved elementary and high school budgets for the 2012-13 school year. It also debated the pay-to-participate fee for sports and whether or not it was per season or per activity. Board chairman Martin DeWitt stated it had already been decided it was per activity for the 2012-13 year.
A big debate was sparked in the last week of August. The Wolf Point City Council passed a motion to remove the picnic tables from Triangle Park in order to reduce the crime, begging and public intoxication in the area. The council cited the city’s high crime rates in comparison to large areas like Billings and Sidney and revealed just how dire the situation was in Wolf Point.