Written by John Plestina
With the Wolf Point ALCO store slated to close in the near future, rumors have been circulating that Shopko will move into the 25,000-square-foot building on U.S. Hwy. 2 on the east edge of Wolf Point.
Attempts to reach Shopko for comment were unsuccessful. The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture would not confirm that Shopko is taking over the ALCO building, but an online search for employment ads on Indeed.com and several other sites found several postings for management, customer service and retail positions with Shopko in Wolf Point, all posted within the past week.
The fate of the Wolf Point ALCO store has been uncertain since its parent company, the Coppell, Texas-headquartered ALCO Stores, Inc., announced Oct. 12. 2014, that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Just under six weeks later, all 198 ALCO stores in 23 states began a liquidation sale. A date of closure of the store in Wolf Point was never made public.
Rumors have circulated for more than three months of possible buyers or renters for the site. ALCO does not own the building. At least three major retailers, including Shopko, have shown an interest in the site. Also, three local businesses looked at the possibility of moving into the building.
Shopko, with a store in Glasgow, is a chain of retail stores based in Ashwaubenon, Wisc., with a 53-year history. Shopko acquired the former Pamida chain in 2012, which allowed for the expansion into Glasgow.
For now, the four ALCO stores in Montana remain open. Besides the Wolf Point location, there are ALCOs in Cut Bank, Dillon and Sidney. The next nearest location is Watford City, N.D. There are about 3,000 employees nationwide. The company operates a distribution center in Abilene, Kan.
ALCO began in 1901 as Duckwall, a chain of five and dime stores in Kansas. The company expanded into discount retail when it founded the ALCO chain 46 years ago.
Written by John Plestina
Rachel’s Challenge presenter Peter DeAnello of Virginia addresses educators and school counselors from several schools at Frontier Elementary School Monday, Jan. 19. (Photo by John Plestina)
Bullying is not cool and is unacceptable behavior in schools was the main message when Frontier Elementary School hosted counselors, principals and teachers from Wolf Point, Frontier and several other schools throughout eastern Montana for a Rachel’s Challenge workshop Monday, Jan. 19.
Rachel’s Challenge is a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe, connected school environments and helping children make better choices. It is named in memory of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School [Colorado] shooting spree that left several students dead in 1999, and is in part based on Scott’s writings. She was shot outside the school before other Columbine victims were shot.
Recognizing what is and what is not bullying was discussed by guest speaker Peter DeAnello of Virginia. He was an educator in Colorado for 18 years. He did not teach at Columbine but said he knows the principal of that school at the time of the shooting incident. DeAnello today lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
DeAnello talked about kindness and compassion, and relationships. Also, addressed were issues related to bullying with new students in schools, special needs students and any students being picked on.
He presented about when intervention is needed and resolving conflicts. Included was a discussion about addressing single acts against another, nastiness, meanness, aggression and teasing. How bystanders react when they witness bullying.
Students feeling they are cared about and making a difference in someone else’s life were also talked about.
The workshop taught teachers and counselors intervention methods and strategies to empower children to avoid becoming targets of bullying and to redirect and change bullying behaviors.
Frontier and several other area schools hosted student presentations for the Rachel’s Challenge program Tuesday, Jan. 20.
The Frontier School board voted to participate in the Rachel’s Challenge program Monday, Dec. 8.
Written by John Plestina
A consensus was to continue a 14-year-old cross deputization law enforcement agreement between the Wolf Point Police Department and Fort Peck Tribes when municipal and tribal representatives met in Wolf Point Tuesday, Jan. 13.
At issue since November has been a delay in the renewal of the cross deputization of one Wolf Point officer following allegations that were called unfounded by several people during the meeting of tribal representatives and the Police and Animal Control Committee of the Wolf Point City Council.
Tribal Executive Board members Dana Buckles, Tommy Christian, Marva Firemoon and Rick Kirn, who chairs the tribal Law and Justice Committee and serves as vice chair of the Montana Board of Crime Control, were present, as well as Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice Capt. Jim Summers.
Officer Joey Olson, 26, a WPPD officer for over two years, has not been able to arrest or issue tickets for nearly two months to enrolled tribal members due to his renewal of his cross deputization being on hold while allegations have been investigated by tribal leaders. City police have had to request tribal officers when Olson has been the only WPPD officer on duty.
“I presented six officers to a subcommittee of the tribal council for cross deputization. All were approved except Officer Olson,” WPPD Chief Jeff Harada said.
“My feeling is if one of my members is not cross deputized, we will step down [from the agreement],” he said.
Kirn said he did not want the cross deputization agreement terminated.
“Some complaints were lodged against an officer and it happened to be Mr. Olson,” he said.
Kirn said an individual brought a complaint against Olson that is unfounded and that the individual has alleged harassment since that time.
“We can’t seem to follow-up with this one,” he said.
The complainant has not been named.
Kirn called Olson an excellent police officer.
He recommended that Olson write down everything for documentation.
“We want to work together. We want to protect all of our officers and we want to protect all of our citizens,” Kirn said.
“As elected leaders, we have to look at it. We owe it to our constituents to look into it,” he said.
Harada said one person who was removed from a residence by a citizen request in January 2014 waited a year to bring a complaint. There was also an alleged incident that occurred during the 2013 Wild Horse Stampede in July.
“There were absolutely no findings of misconduct by Officer Olson,” Tribal Court prosecutor Adrienne Weinberger said.
She said the individual who made the complaint has no credibility.
Weinberger said she hopes Olson gets his cross deputization reinstated.
Summers said tribal officers under his command have commended Olson.
Offering a different viewpoint was Executive Board member Stacey Summers of Wolf Point. She was not able to attend the meeting but talked to The Herald-News a few days later. She said she has had complaints against Olson alleging harassment by individuals who brought complaints against him in the past. The allegations could not be verified. Summers said she would provide detailed information, but had not by press time on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
“It’s not that we want to take a drastic measure and pull out of this,” Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak said. “We have received no documents stating why Officer Olson shouldn’t be cross deputized.”
Dschaak said if the city were to receive a legitimate complaint, it would be taken seriously and given a hard look.
He called the cross deputization agreement beneficial.
“It works very, very well,” Dschaak said.
At least two other reservations in Montana are currently looking at the Fort Peck Tribes/Wolf Point agreement as a potential model for similar agreements.
Dschaak said the contract is not being followed in the way it should be. He said the city was told verbally that Olson’s cross deputization was revoked.
Kirn said Olson’s renewal was not revoked, but just delayed.
Kirn also said Olson should take a cultural sensitivity training class that is expected of all non-tribal officers.
Olson said it was never offered to him.
The Tribal Executive Board renews non-tribal cross deputizations annually.
Roosevelt County Deputy County Attorney Jordan Knudsen, who serves as counsel to the city, said the agreement continues from year to year.
“There’s no authority for an annual review,” Knudsen said.
He said the agreement could be amended to allow for annual review.
Kirn said he will talk to the tribes’ attorney about the agreement.
Leroy Comes Last questioned if the agreement is legal. He cited a 1971 federal court decision. Comes Last said tribal members should vote on an agreement and the election must be called for by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
While questions were raised of whether Olson continues to be legally cross deputized, he was advised to continue to request tribal police assistance until the matter is resolved.
There were questions raised of whether tribal arrests Olson might make would stand up in court.
According to the monthly police activity report Harada presented to the city council in December, WPPD officers issued 30 citations to tribal members and just six to non-tribal individuals.
Written by Herald-News
Nemont has opened a new temporary retail office in Poplar, located on the backside of the James E. Shanley Library next to the Fort Peck Community College. The new temporary retail office opened on Thursday, Jan. 15, to take bill payments, conduct plan changes, and number changes. Nemont is grateful to the Fort Peck Community College for working with them to help secure a space in less than four days after fire destroyed the retail office on Second Avenue early Sunday, Jan. 11. “We are excited and appreciative of the Fort Peck Community College partnering with us in our time of need.” stated Mike Kilgore, CEO of Nemont. “These actions just prove what a great place northeast Montana is to live and work in and demonstrates great partnerships within our small communities.”
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point Police and other law enforcement agencies across the state are looking for a Montana State Prison escapee who is originally from Wolf Point and authorities believe might have fled to the Wolf Point area.
Eric Bruce Fowler, 34, was discovered missing from a Montana State Prison Watch Program facility in Deer Lodge on Monday, Jan. 18, at about 8 p.m.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada said Fowler has been incarcerated for a drug offense.
Fowler is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds with brown hair. He has several scars and tattoos.
Fowler escaped from the Fort Peck Adult Detention Center in August 2013.
Valley County Sheriff’s Deputies apprehended Fowler two weeks later.
He had been arrested on felony charges of possession of dangerous drugs [methamphetamine], failure to register as a violent offender and misdemeanor charges of possession of dangerous drugs [marijuana], driving with a suspended license and failure to have a child properly restrained.