Written by John Plestina
Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a $300 monthly stipend for all permanent non-elected county employees, Tuesday, July 22, but excluded themselves and all elected officials following a citizen complaint.
The stipends are above and beyond the employees salaries and are intended as an incentive to remain on the job. The county has had difficulty retaining sheriff’s deputies and employees of other departments, especially on the east end of the county where the cost of housing is high.
Wolf Point resident Bill Juve said if the commissioners and other elected officials receive the stipends, the county’s compensation board should approve the stipends before the commissioners vote on them.
Juve cited roads that need repair, an issue he said should come ahead of stipends. He mentioned Rodeo Road several times. Juve has asked for repairs to Rodeo Road in the past.
Two compensation board members’ terms expired July 1 and the commissioners must reappoint them before that board could meet with a voting quorum. The earliest date that could happen is Tuesday, Aug. 12.
Assistant county attorney Jordan Knudsen will research whether the law requires the compensation board to make a recommendation on stipends for elected officials. If Knudsen determines that the compensation board does not have to weigh in on the decision, the commissioners could revisit the stipends for elected people as soon as Tuesday, July 29.
The stipends are tied to oil industry severance revenue funding. If the county’s revenue from the oil severance tax drops below an average of $400,000 per quarter, the stipend will cease.
“This will give our employees a very much deserved raise,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said. He added that the commissioners have the ability to discontinue the stipends if the severance revenue decreases.
A decision on the stipends had been delayed from Tuesday, July 15.
Written by Herald-News
The first phase of fundraising for the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial Park in Fort Peck has been a success.
“We have raised over $400,000 to date and have begun finalizing plans to complete the first phase of construction,” Tom Markle said. He co-chairs the fundraising committee with Steve Page.
“People of northeast Montana stepped up to the challenge to build a world-class memorial. After a very successful site dedication on Memorial Day at Fort Peck, we are encouraged that support for this project remains strong,” he said.
The committee expects to break ground this fall for initial site preparations to establish the footprint for the park. Construction will also begin on the main memorial with a formal entry, access walkways and a flag park.
In addition, the planning committee approved “Walls of Honor” that will be a central feature of the park. Engraved tiles placed on the walls will provide permanent recognition for veterans from all parts of northeast Montana.
Expertly etched on select black granite tiles will be a veteran’s last name, first name, initial and branch of service.
Walls of Honor committee chair Mike Hughes explained that the walls will honor all veterans in all branches of the service who are honorably discharged, and those currently serving.
“Custom-made tiles will allow families and friends to permanently recognize and honor any veteran special to their heart, or one who may be forgotten,” Hughes said.
The cost of each tile is $225 through Memorial Day when the cost increases.
Orders are currently being processed and forms are available at local vets clubs, www.VeteransMT.org or by calling the committee at 228-2223.
Written by John Plestina
George Maurer, on the 16th day of his Seattle, Wash., to Boston, Mass., bicycle ride, shortly after checking into the Homestead Inn in Wolf Point, Saturday, July 19. (Photo by John Plestina)
In honor of a friend who died of cancer two years ago, Minneapolis, Minn., pianist and composer George Maurer stopped in Wolf Point, Saturday, July 19, on a 48-day bicycle trip from Seattle, Wash., to Boston, Mass.
Maurer, 48, who is originally from Sun Prairie, Wis., and currently lives on an island in the Mississippi River in Minnesota near the Twin Cities, is raising money for cancer research with his “48 Across the 48: The Carolyn A. Held Memorial Bike Ride,” which nearly duplicates a ride by the late Carolyn Held in 1988.
Maurer’s plan is to ride across the northern part of the nation — following the Hi-Line for much of it — in 48 days, during his 48th year, as Held did. The bike ride travels through 11 states and one Canadian province. He said he is following a parallel route, pedaling about 75 miles daily and camping along the way as she did.
Maurer did alter the route because he wanted to avoid Bakken Oilfield truck traffic along U.S. Hwy. 2 in North Dakota. He left Wolf Point Sunday, July 20, with plans to follow Montana Hwy. 13 south and then east from Glendive.
Maurer’s goal is to raise $20,000 for a memorial fund in Held’s name at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Minnesota.
Held was a teacher from Motley, Minn., whose cross-country bicycle journey raised $4,000 for youth activities in Little Falls, Minn.
“[Saturday, July 19] was day 16 out of hopefully 48,” Maurer said after checking into the Homestead Inn in Wolf Point.
“I hit my millennium today — 1,080 miles out of 3,600,” he said.
“Carolyn did this route in 1988,” Maurer said.
He said he is writing a musical that is set onboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder route between Chicago, Ill., and Cut Bank that passes through Wolf Point. It will debut in St. Paul, Minn., later this year. A substantial portion of the bike ride parallels the Empire Builder route.
Maurer plans to arrive in Boston, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20.
He is seeking donations to offset his food, camping and lodging expenses.
More information is available at www.georgemaurer.com.
Written by Herald-News
Judge David Cybulski sentenced Jarrett Thomas Fraser, Evansville, Wyo., on several drug-related charges in 15th District Court, Wednesday, July 16.
Fraser pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
A felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Fraser admitted to being in possession of marijuana and a pipe in Roosevelt County on June 3.
Cybulski found him guilty and sentenced him to 30 days on each charge and fines, fees and surcharges with credit for 43 days served.
Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point City Council discussed Wild Horse Stampede vendors operating on private property with no city licenses and producing a significant amount of trash during the recent Stampede while meeting, Monday, July 21.
The council is considering an ordinance that would mandate at least assessing garbage fees, and possibly a street cleanup assessment, from those vendors and will address the matter during a future meeting.
“Something that would be enforceable where we could send the police down there and make them get a license or shut them down,” Mayor Chris Dschaak said.
He called on the council to address Stampede vendors operating without licenses on private property and cleanup issues within the next three or four months.
In other business, the council accepted the resignation of Ward 1 council member Travis
Braaten, who attended the meeting, is resigning effective Wednesday, July 30, because he is moving outside the city limits.
In another matter, the council discussed ongoing requests by residents of East Johnson and East Indian streets and First Avenue North from Johnson Street to the Alco store for a posted speed limit.
The state imposes a residential speed limit of 25 mph unless otherwise posted.
The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice has also asked the city to post the 25 mph limit to make enforcement easier.
Dschaak called the area a “race track.”
The council also discussed a recent public hearing on the Gysler Furniture and Appliance fire site cleanup and the federal Brownfield Program loan process that would fund much of the project.
Both Gysler buildings on the 100 block of Anaconda Street were leveled by a fire in March that left a fenced off area of rubble in the downtown area.
“October or November of this year are possible for getting it cleaned up,” Dschaak said.
Bids for construction of Wolf Point Village are about a week behind schedule. A bid opening is now likely during early August. A groundbreaking remains scheduled for Aug. 15.
In another matter, the council voted to re-bid for drainage work at the airport due to only one respondent to the first call for bids and a high bid of $265,000.
The council discussed the possibility of obtaining bids of about $80,000 less than the first bid.
In other business, the council discussed plans for a ramp for the gazebo in Sherman Park that are expected to be completed within one week.
The council also discussed an offer for donated labor, trees and a trash receptacle for an improvement to Sherman Park and the likelihood that the project would move forward.
The council discussed the declining Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department membership, which as dropped to about 12 members, less than half of what a full department would be.
Dschaak said the WPVFD and ambulance service are both seeking applicants.
He also noted the death of retired WPVFD firefighter Terry Blevins Sunday, July 20.
Dschaak, who is a WPVFD member, said Blevins recruited him at a time when the department had a membership of more than 20 and it was difficult to become a firefighter in Wolf Point.
In other business, Dschaak said the Wolf Point Centennial Committee has requested a $20,000 donation from the city. The council will address the request at a later date.
The council also discussed the ongoing flushing of fire hydrants by the water department and that some hydrants need to be repaired or replaced.
The council will hold a public hearing on the budget for the new fiscal year, Wednesday, Aug. 6, a special council meeting for budget adoption, Monday, Aug. 11, and a regular meeting, Monday, Aug. 18.