Written by John Plestina
Perhaps this is my ode to Mr. Spock, the beloved pointy-eared Star Trek character who I nearly got to meet years ago, but just my dumb luck, he wasn’t working that day some 48 years ago when I was on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
Nimoy died Friday, Feb. 27, at 83. He was best known for playing Spock, the Vulcan [alien from a fictional distant planet] first officer aboard the Starship Enterprise some 300 years in the future.
When I learned of Nimoy’s passing from a coworker while getting ready to go to the Eastern C Divisional Tournament at Wolf Point High School, my mind flashed back to a time when I was 14 years old and a neighbor invited me to spend a day with him at his work on the Star Trek set at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood,
Calif. They were filming the second season of the iconic television series. It was the original and first of several Star Trek television series and movies.
Four months earlier, my mother had moved us several hundred miles to the sprawling Los Angeles area from a much smaller community. I was young and impressionable, having just finished the eighth grade and was thrust into the culture shock of moving to the place some people call “La La Land.” No longer seemingly knowing everybody, and no longer having lots of relatives living within a few miles, I knew nearly nobody in my new and somewhat scary environment. The move to the city came less than a year after my dad passed away and was so that my mother could get away from his family and find work, making me ― an only child ― what was called back then a “latchkey kid.”
The summer following the eighth grade, I was lonely and befriended a couple of older neighbors. One was a man named Cliff, a house painter by trade and probably as old as I am now. He worked as a painter at the Paramount Pictures studio in Hollywood. He had the tough task of being permanently assigned to the Star Trek set to standby on the off chance that something might get scratched and the services of a painter became needed. He rarely did anything except hangout and watch Star Trek episodes filmed. Cliff told me Paramount paid him a whopping $7 plus change per hour. His pay, less than minimum wage today, was about five times the then $1.50 hourly minimum wage. That would be about $40 per hour in 2015 wages.
Cliff was also an artist. He painted and lettered the first model of the U.S.S. Enterprise that was used on the show. I held it in my hand.
He had gotten to know the actors including Nimoy and William Shatner who played Capt. James Kirk and today is often seen in commercials. He’s the guy who throws the daughter’s boyfriend out a window in a commercial.
When I accepted Cliff’s invitation to spend a day on the Star Trek set, I expected to meet Nimoy and Shatner. Neither were working that day. Hanging out on the set was fun.
I met James Doohan, the Canadian actor who portrayed Scotty. I was in Las Vegas when I learned of his death about 10 years ago. A headline in the Las Vegas Review Journal read: “Scottie Beamed Up.”
I had no clue that I was witnessing pop culture in its creation with 1,500 small stuffed animals that filled a multitude of large boxes. Tribbles they called them. The little furry things that multiplied at an alarming rate and jumped around, had Capt. Kirk chest-deep in them. Tribbles have baffled and dazzled Trekkies ever since the episode first ran on television. Little did I know at the time, that Star Trek episode would become a classic and one of the most talked about episodes since it first aired on NBC in December 1967.
I was taken into a sound-proof room beneath the floor of the early 20th century Paramount sound stage. Rubber hoses from a noisy air compressor led to holes drilled in the wooden floor. Air blowing through the floor made the tribbles move and jump. Low-tech at best, but it did the job.
The plot was that Starfleet gave the Enterprise a top-priority order to protect a shipment of quadrotriticale grain on the fictional Deep Space Station K-7. The episode was complete with Klingons trying to steal the grain and the space trader Cyrano Jones giving an Enterprise crew member a tribble. The mythical creatures were born pregnant and the more they ate, the more they multiplied – and they didn’t stop eating the grain that Kirk was ordered to deliver to a starving planet. Of course Scotty [remember “Beam Me Up Scotty?”] saved the Enterprise by beaming all of the tribbles onto a Klingon bird-of-prey.
Yes, I was allowed to touch tribbles but I was not given one to take home. Few of the original 1967 tribbles exist today. They were synthetic fur and stuffed with foam rubber and some with bean bags. Christie’s Auction House sold some of the tribbles a few years ago for as high as $1,000 each. Others were placed on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Deep Space Station K-7 should not be confused with Deep Space 9, a later sequal Star Trek series set on a space station that premiered in 1993. A side to that is that one of its stars is a neighbor of my daughter and grandchildren, who live in Maine.
As Spock said, “Live long and prosper.” If not,beam me up.
Written by John Plestina
A 55-year-old Wolf Point man caught turning donuts with a pickup truck in a field south of Oswego tried to run from an officer and rolled his truck early Monday, March 2.
A Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice officer observed the 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck turning donuts in a field at 1:07 a.m., and waited for the truck to return to the pavement on BIA Route 1.
“The guy was spotted spinning out in a field and when he came out of the field he spotted the tribal officer and took off,” Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Kent said.
He said the driver, who authorities had not identified by The Herald-News’ deadline, tried to flee with the tribal officer in pursuit. The pickup rolled and the driver was injured.
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department responded and extricated the driver who was transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus with undisclosed injuries.
Kent said alcohol was a factor. Charges had not been filed by early this week.
Written by John Plestina
Two of the three Wolf Point men the state has an alleged marijuana growing and distribution case against have now withdrawn not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty in 15th District Court.
Dougal McMorris, 19, withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas to several charges, Wednesday, Feb. 25, and pleaded guilty to a single count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
McMorris, Dustin Kin-zie, 20, and Pryce Paulson, 20, were arraigned Nov. 12 on felony drug charges.
They were three of six people arrested following a joint operation by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice that resulted in county and tribal officers entering Kinzie’s residence on the 400 block of Custer Street, across from Southside Elementary School with a search warrant on Oct. 14.
The officers found five marijuana plants, growing equipment, about one half pound of marijuana packaged in one-ounce baggies in a backpack, two ounces of marijuana in a black air vault, several pipes and bongs, several digital scales, small unopened jeweler’s bags that are commonly used to package drugs, marijuana seeds, paraphernalia, a .25 caliber pistol, an empty box and receipt for a Mossberg pump shotgun, $783 in cash and marijuana growing equipment, according to the charging documents. There was a young child present in the house.
Criminal possession with intent to sell, gun complicity with a drug crime, felony child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia charges were filed in Fort Peck Tribal Court in the same case against Arlyn “A.J.” Headdress Jr., Tyler Nygaard and Nevaeh Yellowrobe, all of Wolf Point.
McMorris’ guilty plea was for possession of the opiate pain killer Vicodin for which he did not have a prescription. The original charges will be dismissed.
McMorris admitted in court that he possessed Vicodin without a prescription.
In November, McMorris pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
At that time, Kinzie pleaded not guilty to criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal endangerment.
Kinzie withdrew the previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty on Feb. 11, to a single charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs. At that time, he admitted in court that he had more than 60 grams of marijuana in his possession when he was caught.
District Judge David Cybulski allowed Kinzie’s bond to be reinstated. He had been free on bond, but was returned to jail for violating bail conditions. He admitted to drug use while free on bond, according to the Roosevelt County Attorney’s Office.
Paulson entered a not guilty plea nearly four months ago to a single felony count of criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs.
So far, Paulson is the only one of the three men who has not entered into a plea agreement.
Assistant Roosevelt County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said in November that Montana law allows for a separate felony charge for dealing drugs near a school. So far, no federal charges have been filed against anyone charged in the case.
Written by John Plestina
The oilfield worker authorities say was drunk behind the wheel of a pickup truck when he created a fireball with a shower of sparks coming from a bare rim on U.S. Hwy. 2, a few miles west of Bainville, entered seven not-guilty pleas in 15th District Court Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Brian Suggs of Mesa, Ariz., is charged with a single felony count of criminal endangerment and six misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, operating a vehicle while the privilege to do so is suspended or revoked, failure to carry proof of insurance, failure to remove injurious material from a highway following a motor vehicle crash, failure to give information to the other driver in a motor vehicle crash and failure to give notice by the quickest means of apparent damage over $500.
According to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Suggs was driving with a suspended Arizona driver’s license.
District Judge David Cybulski agreed to reduce bail from $50,000 to $10,000, allowing him to return to an oil field job in Williston, N.D.
A trial is scheduled for June 11.
Two RCSO deputies arrested Suggs near mile marker 656 at 12:42 a.m., on Jan. 31 after the driver of a semi reported that a white pickup truck sideswiped his trailer, resulting in extensive damage.
The RCSO reported that deputies observed a shower of sparks coming from the front end of the pickup when they initiated a traffic stop and performed a field sobriety test.
Undersheriff John Summers said debris left on the highway from the collision between Suggs’ vehicle and the semi trailer punctured a hole in the gas tank of an RCSO patrol vehicle that was responding to assist the two deputies that were at the scene. That vehicle had to be towed.
A passenger in Suggs’ vehicle was not charged.
Written by Herald-News
Several people appeared before District Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court, Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Cybulski reduced bond for Daniel Amos Bridges, 38, of Wolf Point from $25,000 to $5,000 for each of two cases for a total of $10,000.
A recent case against Bridges is a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest. He entered not- guilty pleas Jan. 14.
He also appeared before Cybulski on Jan. 14 on a petition to revoke a bail for an earlier case against him with a felony charge of forgery by common scheme, filed in October 2013. He is alleged to have violated conditions of house arrest. Bridges is alleged to have forged checks at businesses in Wolf Point valued at $2,227 on two accounts in his mother’s name.
According to charging documents, Bridges was arrested in Poplar December after attempting to elude Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies and Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice officers.
Charging documents also state that two attempts to stop a fleeing Bridges with tasers used by a tribal officer and another by a deputy had no effect. A deputy took him into custody.
Joshua Wayne Jones, 36, of Williston, N.D., did not appear for a scheduled court appearance.
He has been free on bond since Feb. 12, one day after Cybulski agreed to reduce bail from $25,000 to $5,000 with a waiver of extraction.
Jones was arraigned on a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jones and Melissa Jewett, 32, also of Williston, Jan. 19 in a casino near Bainville. Methamphetamine and a knife were found in Jones pockets.
Scott Austin Varner, 22, Crawfordville, Fla., withdrew a previously entered not guilty plea to a charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and pleaded guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Varner admitted in court that he was in possession of marijuana in excess of 60 grams.
He was arrested by the Montana Highway Patrol Oct. 13, 2014.
Carroll Gregg Wells, 35, of Fairview, entered not guilty pleas to charges of burglary and theft.
He said he had not spoken to his defense attorney when he appeared for an arraignment, Wednesday, Feb. 11.
A trial is scheduled for June 11.
Wells had been wanted in Roosevelt County on a warrant and was transferred in early February from the jail in Dickinson, N.D., where he had been held for about a year for a North Dakota case.