Written by Herald-News
The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and the Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority recently announced an historic agreement for the delivery of water from the Tribes’ intake and treatment facilities near Wolf Point to Dry Prairie customers throughout Montana’s northeastern corner.
Praising the agreement, Fort Peck Tribal Chairman A.T. Stafne said, “We are very proud. This agreement represents decades of cooperation between the Tribes and its off-reservation partners and is a first of its kind in Montana.”
As a result of this three-party agreement between the Tribes, Dry Prairie and the United States, the tribal and Dry Prairie rural water systems will be connected later this spring. Once connected, the tribal intake and treatment facilities will begin supplying water to Dry Prairie at a delivery point near U.S. Hwy. 2 on the eastern side of the reservation. This eastern connection will allow Dry Prairie to immediately serve some 700 of its rural customers, as well as the communities of Culbertson, Bainville, Froid, Medicine Lake, Plentywood and Antelope.
“Access to clean water is critical to the health of our communities,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D. Mont., said. “Connecting families to the regional water system strengthens communities in northeast Montana, invests in our infrastructure, and puts more folks to work. I applaud the leadership of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Dry Prairie and local communities for their work to make this historic agreement happen.”
In addition to the eastern connection point, the Tribes and Dry Prairie hope to also establish a connection between the two systems near Nashua in the upcoming year. This western connection will allow Dry Prairie to deliver water from the Tribes’ facilities to its customers west of the reservation. A third connection is also planned along the northern boundary of the reservation, near Montana Hwy. 251. Eventually, the combined rural water systems will consist of 3,000 miles of water pipeline servicing approximately 30,000 residents throughout all of Roosevelt County, the eastern half of Valley County, and Sheridan and Daniels counties.
“I’m glad to see this important project moving forward. This historic agreement will ensure hundreds of families on the Fort Peck Reservation and throughout northeastern Montana will have access to clean and safe drinking water. I commend the Tribes and the Dry Prairie Rural Water Authority for their work, and will continue working to ensure that this important project receives the funding it needs to move forward,” Sen. Steve Daines, R. Mont., said.
Congress originally authorized the two water projects in 2000 under the Fort Peck Reservation Rural Water System Act. The water for both projects is diverted from the Missouri River to a single treatment facility constructed and operated by the Tribes under an Indian Self-Determination Act agreement between the Tribes and the United States Secretary of Interior.
“Dry Prairie and the Tribes have worked together over the past two decades to bring safe drinking water to northeastern Montana,” Dry Prairie chairman Rick Knick said. “Working together, we can accomplish great things.”
The Fort Peck Tribes and Dry Prairie will be co-hosting a signing ceremony to celebrate this agreement at the Tribal headquarters in Poplar on Tuesday, March 31, at 10 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public.
Written by John Plestina
The Frontier Elementary School board offered a contract Monday, March 9, to Poplar High School social studies teacher Greg Gourneau to become Frontier School’s principal for the next school year.
Superintendent Christine Eggar said Tuesday, March 10, that Gourneau had not yet accepted the offer.
The school board also discussed replacing the floor in the gymnasium.
Eggar said the board will consider flooring options at the April board meeting.
In other business, the board discussed the May 5 school district election. Trustees Brandon Babb and Bill Pew are up for reelection. Eggar said no other candidates have filed so far. The deadline for filing is Thursday, March 26.
Written by John Plestina
The Williston, N.D., Star Fund will award a $3,000 grant to the Wolf Point’s Centennial Committee for parade floats for Wolf Point’s Centennial Celebration during the 2015 Wild Horse Stampede in July.
An announcement was made during the monthly Centennial Committee meeting Monday, March 9.
The voter-approved Star Fund for Williston’s economic development includes regional events happening within driving distance of Williston. Residents of that city pay a 1 percent sales tax that funds the Star Fund.
The annual Stampede parade will increase from two days to three for the centennial celebration.
Floats will depict decades in Wolf Point’s history and significant events before and after 1915. Those might include local Native American history and Lewis and Clark.
The floats funded by the Star Fund must be in the parade all three days, must also be paraded around the rodeo grounds during grand entries before rodeo performances and be announced with descriptions of what each float depicts.
People interested in building a parade float or with questions about the parade should contact Duane Kurokawa at Western Bank at 653-5500.
Centennial Committee is asking the public to visit the Wolf Point Centennial Community Facebook page and click on “Like.”
Written by John Plestina
Incarcerated in Montana State Prison most of the last 31 years, Barry Beach could win his freedom this year if either of two things happens.
The Montana Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a petition Beach’s attorneys filed in October, asking that Beach be re-sentenced for his conviction of a 1979 beating death, a crime Beach denies any guilt for. Montana’s highest court heard arguments for Beach’s petition Feb. 4.
The central point of the hearing was not whether Beach killed Kim Nees nearly 36 years ago, but rather on the constitutionality of his 100-year sentence without eligibility for parole for a crime that occurred when he was 17.
If that occurs, a likely outcome would be a decision to send the case back to district court for re-sentencing before 7th District Judge Katherine Bidegaray of Sidney.
Fifteenth District Judge David Cybulski recused himself from a hearing for Beach several years ago because he had denied a petition for post conviction relief and was reversed on appeal.
Beach’s other possible get- out-of-jail card is House Bill 43, which is rapidly moving through the Legislature. The measure passed the House in late January on a vote of 88-12 and received a unanimous endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. The bill will soon go to the Senate for consideration.
HB 43 would give the governor final authority with clemency applications, which most governors have.
Currently, Montana’s Board of Pardons and Parole is one of only eight in the nation that have the final say on clemency petitions.
Gov. Steve Bullock wrote to the Board of Pardons and Parole in April saying he believed Beach deserved an opportunity for rehabilitation outside of prison.
Written by John Plestina
The commonly-held belief that shock therapy could save lives might be put to the test at Wolf Point High School with a wrecked vehicle on display as a brutal road safety demonstration for prom week in April.
With both prom and graduation approaching,
the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force continued a discussion, Wednesday, March 4, of placing a car or pickup truck that was wrecked in a drunk driving crash in the Wolf Point High School parking lot during prom week in April and possibly doing the same at Poplar High School. Culbertson High School was also mentioned as a possible location for the same demonstration.
The placement of a wreck that was in a DUI crash could serve as a harsh reminder of dangers associated with the mix of alcohol and driving, and potential devastating consequences.
School administration in each location would have to approve the placement of a wrecked vehicle.
County Commissioner Gary Macdonald, who chairs the task force, said he has spoken to Wolf Point School District Superintendent Joe Paine about placing a vehicle at WPHS. He said Paine told him it was a good idea and that he would discuss the proposal with principal Kim Hanks.
Macdonald said he would like to see the history of the wreck posted with the vehicle for the students to read with hopes of getting the safety message across to the teens.
Wolf Point High School’s prom will be held either Friday, April 17 or Saturday, April 18. The WPSD has not decided between the two dates.
The county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force in April 2014. A group had held organizational meetings since late 2013. The task force meets monthly and includes representatives of the Wolf Point Police Department, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice, Fort Peck Tribal Court and members of the community.