Wolf Point Herald

Column: From The Editor's Desk -- 9/11 Reflections

The headline across the top of the front page of The Herald-News, Sept. 13, 2001, read: “Wolf Point Reels After East Coast Terrorism Acts.”
It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 13 years since the indelible impressions of the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. Newspapers across the nation, small and large, reported the attack on America when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four domestic passenger airplanes, crashing two into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, collapsing the towers. A third plane struck the Pentagon and the fourth crashed into a field near Shankville, Pa.
The story written by Herald-News publisher Darla Downs 13 years ago this week recounted the events of the preceding Monday. A sidebar appealed to Roosevelt County residents by then Gov. Judy Martz for Montanans to donate blood for victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The front page of The Herald-News included a photo of a satellite dish installed outside the Wolf Point city office that served as a makeshift television receiver so that city employees could watch the developments as they unfolded.
Seeing that photo reminded me of being at work the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the lead reporter at a newspaper in New England, just a few hundred miles from the carnage. Someone I worked with went home and returned with a small television. With a “rabbit ears” antenna [not yet extinct in 2001] we had live news coverage of the events. I’ll never forget witnessing the second airliner striking the second tower. A sinking feeling followed and the truth smacked me in the face that the first crash was not an accident. It was an act of terrorism, an attack on the United States, probably launched by a foreign and hostile source.
I thought about stories both my parents told of where they were and what they were doing Dec. 7, 1941, the day 353 Japanese aircraft bombed the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sinking several U.S. vessels and killing more than 2,400.
I realized that I had my Pearl Harbor and felt a sense of identity with my parents I had never before felt. I understood how they felt when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both events wrought extreme anger from most Americans. Flags were displayed everywhere and a spike in military enlistments followed. My dad wanted to fight the Japanese and he did.
The 9/11 attacks left a carnage of 2,996, about 500 more Americans than were killed at Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier.
When I saw the towers collapse on live television, I thought about visiting New York for the first time in 1971 – as a teenager from the West – and seeing the then new twin towers from the New Jersey Turnpike several miles away. The World Trade Center was my first face-to-face impression of New York City.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, it became known that several of the 19 terrorists were in Bangor, Maine, the night of Sept. 10 and flew from Bangor to Boston before boarding the four ill-fated flights. That hit home for me. I lived less than a mile from Bangor International Airport.
I had another reminder last October, while working as assistant editor of two newspaper in Utah. Artifacts of the World Trade Center were on tour, including a 9,000-pound piece of the slurry wall [a seven-story dam] that once held back the Hudson River at the World Trade Center. The artifacts were displayed in a high school parking lot before a homecoming game. I took a picture of a local fire chief on one knee and in tears at the piece of the wall. That photo was on the front page of the Vernal Express. The loss of 343 firefighters and paramedics in a single event would be cerebral for any firefighter.
The War on Terror followed 9/11. Bad intelligence of false weapons claims that were given to then President George W. Bush resulted in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The number of U.S. casualties mounted to nearly 4,500 killed and more than 32,000 wounded.
A decade later, our nation was divided over President Barack Obama wanting a military response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly responding to an assassination attempt against him by using Sarin, a deadly nerve gas that Germany’s Nazi’s regime developed during the 1930s, with 1,429 Syrian civilians dead, more than 400 of them children. The use of Sarin puts Assad in unique company, along with two other stooges – Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
Now there is the ISIS threat that Obama blew off early this year, comparing the terror group to a junior varsity sports team. Now, Obama is stepping up the bombing of ISIS targets in Iraq.

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Claims Of Shooter Cause Schools To Lockdown

A 911 call reporting a man discharging a rifle on the 100 block of East Edgar Street resulted in all Wolf Point schools and Frontier Elementary School being locked down during the afternoon hours, Monday, Sept. 8.
Wolf Point Police Department officers were on East Edgar Street in less than a minute of receiving the call a little after 2 p.m. Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies and Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice officers were on the scene shortly after.
No shooter was located by law enforcement.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada said Tuesday, Sept. 9, that it was undetermined if there had been a man with a rifle or if any shots had been fired.
All area schools were locked down as a precaution for the remainder of the school day.
“We don’t know for sure [if there was a shooter], but we always take precautions,” Wolf Point School District superintendent Joe Paine said a few hours later.
Frontier Elementary School locked down at 2:45 p.m. and remained on lockdown until school was dismissed.
Frontier buses only discharged children at the Roosevelt County Courthouse. All parents were called and advised of the situation. Many of the parents picked up their children at the school rather than allowing them to ride buses into town.
“We received a message that Wolf Point locked down and we decided that we would follow suit to be safe,” Frontier School superintendent Christine Eggar said.

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Frontier School Board Peruses Poll Results

The Frontier School board discussed the Montana Zog Opinion Poll that published Sept.2 by a group Montana educators during the monthly meeting, Monday, Sept. 8.
Addressing K-12 education statewide, results of the poll were that 88.8 percent of respondents said public schools should be focused on basics of education including gifted and talented programs, music, art, physical education and technology.
Parent Brad Solberg asked the board to appoint him as fifth- and sixth-grade basketball coach. The board did not act on the request as it was not an item on the meeting agenda.
Athletic director Marianne Reece addressed the board about the only eighth-grade volleyball player playing with sixth graders. Reece suggested allowing the girl to join the Wolf Point Junior High team, which is not part of the co-op agreement between Frontier and Wolf Point. No board action was taken.
In other business, the board approved one out of district kindergarten student.
The board also approved the hiring of Karel Schutt as a cook and Jeff Spotts as a bus driver.
In another matter, the trustees appointed principal Mike Maples as the homeless liaison and attendance officer.
The board approved the hiring of substitute teachers Brandi Nordwick and Renee Goodman.
In another matter, board member Jim Jerome tendered his resignation as a trustee because he is moving to Tennessee.
The next board meeting will be Monday, Oct. 13.

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Bullock’s Rain Disaster Declaration Excludes Roosevelt County

Gov. Steve Bullock’s Rain Disaster Declaration issued Thursday, Sept. 4, excludes Roosevelt County, but includes Valley and several other Hi-Line counties.
Heavy August rains between Aug. 21 and 24 prompted the declaration for several eastern Montana counties.
In addition to Valley County, the declaration covers the counties of Petroleum and Musselshell, the town of Ekalaka and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
The declaration comes as a result of a microburst that recorded winds in excess of 75 mph on Aug. 21 in Ekalaka, with debris from fallen or damaged trees causing significant damage to property there.
Meanwhile, rainfall in excess of seven inches in a short period of time across central and north-central Montana caused the Milk and Musselshell rivers and tributaries to rapidly rise above major flood stage, damaging culverts, roadways and stock reservoirs.
The declaration will allow Bullock to mobilize state resources and the Montana National Guard, as well as expend funds to meet the contingencies and needs that may arise.
“With the severity and intensity of the storms we saw last week and the damage that resulted, it is important that the state provide relief to those jurisdictions that need our assistance,” Bullock said.

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Team Kevin Fundraiser To Be Sept. 16

A fundraiser is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 16, at Wolf Point High School to benefit the family of WPHS student Kevin Heser, who is fighting cancer.
The Wolf Point Optimist Club and Wolf City Rods and Rides are co-sponsoring the event, a dinner that will be served in the WPHS multipurpose room.
Chef Dustin Hunsaker of the Wolf Point Elks Club will prepare the meal. The Optimists will prepare a dessert bar. Take outs will be available. More information will be available in an ad in this issue of The Herald-News.
Wolf City Rods and Rides will hold a silent auction.
Donations of craft items and other auction merchandise will be accepted at Wolf Point NAPA. Items can also be dropped off at the WPHS multipurpose room between 4 and 5 p.m.
The WPHS music department will provide entertainment stating at 6:30 p.m.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Heser family and unable to attend the fundraiser can send donations to the Optimist Club of Wolf Point at P.O. Box 486, Wolf Point, MT, 59201. Write either Team Kevin or childhood cancer in the memo section on the check.

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