Written by John Plestina
The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board approved a resolution May 26 to restrict ownership of dogs classified as dangerous breeds, specifically pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers on the Fort Peck Reservation, but it only applies to enrolled tribal members.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada raised questions of jurisdiction.
“It applies in the city to members of the Fort Peck Tribes’ criminal jurisdiction,” Harada said.
“The tribes will argue the point,” city police animal control officer J.T. Szymanski said.
He said there has been a ban on pit bulls in tribal housing.
Fort Peck Tribal Health director Dennis Four Bear said the language “reservation wide” was included in the resolution to include the entire reservation, but the new law pertains only to enrolled tribal members living on the reservation.
“This does not apply to non-Natives on the reservation. The non-Natives fall under Montana state law. I believe this was said by Wolf Point City Police Chief Harada,” Four Bear said.
He said tribal court will have jurisdiction.
The new law allows for owners of dogs that were on the reservation prior to the passage of the law to keep the animals only if they obtain a special license within 60 days of the law taking effect. Mandatory restrictions will include that owners obtain and maintain $100,000 liability insurance on the dog, the dog be spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, owners must be age 21 or older, the dogs must be kept indoors or in a secure pen and warning signs must be placed on the property. Dogs must be transported in kennels and wearing muzzles when walked on leashes. Sales or gifting of the dogs outside the owner’s immediate family are prohibited.
The language in the resolution includes that it is unlawful for anyone to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, harbor, transport or sell any pit bull or other restricted breed within the reservation and further defines restricted breeds to include rottweilers, wolf hybrids and any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of those breeds.
Fort Peck Tribal Health and Fort Peck Housing Authority each have two animal control officers. They work for separate tribal entities and are not attached to the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice.
If city animal control picks up a dog owned by a tribal member, the owner must pay the city to get their dog returned but they can only be cited into tribal court.
The city has a contract with the tribes to house dogs picked up by tribal animal control. The tribes do not have an animal shelter.
Four Bear said owners of breeds addressed by the new law have 60 days to contact tribal health and register their dogs.
Breed-specific laws are controversial but exist in many places. Laws are in place that restrict or prohibit pit bull ownership in 12 states [not including Montana or any neighboring states] and many local jurisdictions in the United States and several foreign countries. Appellate courts in 12 states and the District of Columbia have upheld the constitutionality of breed-specific pit bull laws. In Montana, Baker, Libby and Lincoln County prohibit pit bull ownership. Wolf hybrid ownership is also illegal in Baker and Lincoln County. White Sulphur Springs requires mandatory insurance to keep pit bulls, rottweilers and Doberman pinschers.
Written by John Plestina
Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council Monday, June 15, that he will refer a request by the artist who created the bronze monument of a horse and rider in the triangle in downtown Wolf Point for city support to protect the sculpture to the council’s Parks, Recreation, Cemetery and Tree Committee.
Floyd Tennyson “Tenny” DeWitt of Bozeman recently told The Herald-News he is hoping more will be done to protect and promote his sculpture of a rider who has taken off his hat off as a reverent gesture to all who shaped the community Wolf Point became.
The bronze cast monument has stood 39 years near the point of the triangle between Anaconda and Main streets near the Wolf Point Café.
DeWitt, who was born and raised in Wolf Point and was a Wolf Point police officer in his youth, is now 81. He said in May that he is concerned that the statue is neither high enough off the ground for proper visibility, nor behind a low barrier to protect it from being struck by vehicles. He said the red brick foundation neither enhances nor provides adequate protection.
DeWitt also said there should not be two plaques and one has the title of the sculpture incorrect.
“He does not believe that in its current location on the pedestal that it is safe,” Dschaak told the council.
“He [DeWitt] is saying it would be at no cost to us,” he said.
City clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum said she approached the council eight years ago about removing railroad ties that surrounded the sculpture. Mahlum obtained a quote for the brick covering and the city paid for it.
She said at the time she did not know that the artist or the people that contributed to funding it during the 1970s were still alive. She had a plaque made.
“I put the plaque on the statue. The statue had been there since 1976 and people were coming out of the woodwork,” Mahlum said.
She said DeWitt contacted her and that he was not pleased with an article she wrote that was on the city’s website. Mahlum said DeWitt asked for a different plaque, which she agreed to but she would not remove the original plaque.
DeWitt told The Herald-News the correct title is Homage to the Pioneer, not Homage.
“I thought I was doing a good deed,” Mahlum said.
The city has the monument insured, but questions were raised about whether the amount of coverage is adequate for its current value.
“I would be more concerned about having liability insurance on it,” councilman Rollie Paulson said.
DeWitt said his inspiration to create the sculpture came in 1973, when Dr. Robert Dana Knapp, “Bess” and Bob Hovey and several others asked him to create something for Wolf Point. The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture was involved with the project that was funded by private contributions. Three years later, the monument was placed at its current site.
Written by John Plestina
Sheriff Jason Frederick confirmed that one of two people arrested near Bainville Monday, June 15, is the sister of Congressman Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Dhara L. Zinke, 23, of Kalispell, on misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child, first offense.
“Not a young child, a teenager, but they’re considered a child [by legal definition],” Frederick said.
“We have an ongoing drug investigation, not with her, but with someone else in the vehicle,” he said.
Zinke was traveling with Nicodemus A. Kupka, 19, of Watford City, N.D. He is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, which Frederick said was methamphetamine. Kupka is also held on a bench warrant out of Flathead County Justice Court.
Deputies stopped the vehicle carrying Kupka and Zinke and two juveniles about midnight near the Gold Dust Casino on U.S. Hwy. 2, about a mile from the North Dakota state line.
Zinke and Kupka remained lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail on Tuesday, held on $1,170 and $25,000 bond respectively.
Written by John Plestina
Construction of a second grain terminal at Macon junction is in the early stages with completion scheduled for July 2016. (Photo by John Plestina)
With the addition of an additional terminal allowing for one million bushels of grain storage, the CHS facility at Macon Junction east of Wolf Point will accommodate about 100,000 bushels an hour.
CHS Wolf Point general manager Mark Dreesen confirmed that a second grain terminal is under construction and said the anticipated completion date for the project is July 2016.
“When finished, load-out should be about 100,000 bushels an hour,” Dreesen said.
“It will be a state-of-the-art computerized facility. It should help us stay relevant for the future,” he said.
Two rigs are currently core drilling west of the existing terminal.
“The majority of our locations are almost always in some stage of enhancement — reviewing, planning or in process. Macon, in particular, has been doing ongoing improvements for a couple of years now,” CHS spokesperson Lisa Graham-Peterson said.
“This one [at Macon junction] has site activity, but since it isn’t scheduled for completion until next summer, I think of it as being in its early stage,” she said.
“We are adding a million bushels of grain storage with two 20,000 bushels-per-hour grain dumps. When finished, load-out should be about 100,000 bushels an hour — a tremendous time improvement for farmers delivering to this location, especially during peak seasons,” Graham-Peterson said.
Inver Grove Heights, Minn., headquartered CHS is a diversified global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States focusing on energy and grains.
Written by Angela Rose Benson
Over 60 community members gathered at the town hall in Culbertson Thursday, June 11, to weigh in on the pros and cons of a proposed radioactive waste disposal landfill.
The proposed landfill would be located seven miles north of Culbertson and be situated on 149-acres of a 160-acre site on the west side of Montana Hwy. 16 near 18 homes located within a two-mile radius of the proposed site.
“The biggest concern is that this landfill is in their backyard. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality says it is going to be a contained landfill with no leakage, but 40 to 50 years from now, we do not know what it will be like,” said Gordon Oelkers, mayor of Culbertson.
If the MDEQ issues a five-year permit to Clay Butte Environmental of Minnesota, the company would be able to accept low radiation soil, salt water waste and petroleum dirt at a capacity of some 10-million cubic yards.
Oelkers stated he is not concerned about the science behind the landfill, but rather, is concerned about the close proximity to a largely populated area.
“I would say relocate the landfill three to four miles into the prairie, as opposed to around those homes, and move it away from the highway where people want to live,” he said.
Several attendees were also concerned with the potential for fumes coming off the landfill that might lower those residents quality of life. At the meeting, the MDEQ addressed this issue citing that any fumes present should not reach the residential home sites.
The MDEQ stressed that ground water and surface water would be contained safely through proper soil liners and disposal procedures. They would periodically test for radiation levels to ensure they are not exceeding maximum thresholds.
Oelkers acknowledged there is always a benefit to bringing more businesses to the area, noting, the landfill would bring two or more employees that would be paying taxes. He noted there are always economic benefits that come with new businesses.
“Are the drawbacks bigger than the benefits? That’s the question,” he said.
If the MDEQ determines the landfill would be safe to the environment, they will issue a permit within the next 30 days. Clay Butte Environmental has up to five years to get the landfill up and running. Oelkers noted that with little drilling currently taking place, there would not be a large demand for its use.
At this time, no further meetings are slated on this issue.