Written by The Herald-News
According to the data, in general Montana is a good place to raise kids. The latest edition of the Montana KIDS COUNT Data Book was released recently and details information such as access to education and health insurance coverage for children in Montana’s 56 counties.
“Overall, Montana’s children face good conditions across the spectrum,” said Thale Dillon, director of Montana KIDS COUNT at the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
Among the information included in the report, data shows:
•A growing number of Montana residents attain some level of post-secondary education, and more children live in families headed by someone with at least a high school diploma;
•more than two-thirds of families with children are married-couple families;
•teen births are well below national levels;
•juvenile offense rates, child abuse, infant mortality all are on a downward trajectory;
•motor vehicle crashes where the driver is under age 18 also are declining, and fewer youth under age 21 are involved in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes;
•and the percentage of Montana children who do not have health insurance continues to decrease.
However, though the data shows the rate of child deaths also is on a downward curve, that curve is not steep enough, Dillon said. For decades, Montana has had one of the highest child death rates in the nation. Combined with high rates of alcohol and drug abuse among youth, this distinction caused Montana to be ranked last among all the states in terms of child health in the national KIDS COUNT data book, which was released a few weeks ago.
“While there is more to child well-being than just health, when our children die at a rate that’s almost twice as high as the national average, it trumps other indicators,” Dillon said.
Montana children die at a rate of 45 per 100,000 children, while the national average is 26 per 100,000. Among the state’s many youth deaths, a large portion are preventable, with 70 percent of the deaths a result of either accidents or suicide.
The largest contributors to Montana’s accidental death rate are traffic-related deaths. Further, the majority of suicide victims are males in their late teens who take their own lives using firearms.
“Simple actions such as using a seatbelt or child-safety seat or temporarily removing the means by which someone can commit suicide make a difference in the final outcomes,” Dillon said.
Research shows that strong family connections and relationships play a vital role in keeping children safe. The Montana KIDS COUNT Data Book provides results from the bi-annual Prevention Needs Assessment survey, which indicates that communication and closeness within Montana families have improved during the past 10 years.
When children know that their parents or guardians care about them and what they do, and when there are clear rules and expectations regarding behavior, they are less likely to see risk behavior or suicide as viable options.
“This is why it’s encouraging to see a significant increase in the percentage of Montana youth who report that their parents are strongly involved in their lives,” Dillon said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 09:16
Written by Al Stover
The Roosevelt County Commissioners held a meeting Aug. 1 to approve resolutions and business.
The commissioners began the meeting by approving the minutes for the meetings that took place in month of July. They also approved the claims for July 18, 2013, which came to the amount of $63,580.92. Commissioner Gary Macdonald said he was “shocked to see it that low.”
They also approved the claims and payroll, which came to the amount of $1,638,666.48, for the period from June 1 to June 30.
In regards to administrative issues, the commissioners approved Resolution No. 2014-2, which will allow the commissioners to set salaries for elected officials and Resolution No. 2014-3, which allows the commissioners to set the salary for the county attorney and the deputy county attorney. They also passed a Memoriam of Understanding for the Deadman Communication Site, located at 174 Tower Hill Road, within McCone County.
Macdonald said the equipment will be supplied by the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project grant.
“We get a lot of extra equipment out of it,” Macdonald said. “It will help out with fleet mapping.”
The equipment will be installed by Flathead County or its designee and all equipment will be installed according to accepted industry standards.
In the matters of business, the commissioners rehired Bernadine Popp as a substitute cook for the Bainville Senior Center. They also made a motion to approve the pay raise of Carlos Garcia, who works as a 911 dispatcher.
Macdonald asked about Garcia’s raise and Brenda Redfield, administrative assistant to the Roosevelt County Commissioners, said Garcia had been overlooked at the time of anniversary date of employment back in April. She also said she did not know if they failed to inform Garcia or if Garcia missed it himself. Commissioner Duane Nygaard said he did not know whose responsibility it was to notify Garcia about the pay raise and Macdonald said it was the department’s job to do that.
The business matter that raised the most discussion was the move of Traci Kjelshus to full-time office manager/4H assistant with an extra eight hours a week. Nygaard motioned it for discussion.
Macdonald said that although it would make sense to have Kjelhsus move to full-time, because there have been times where the 4-H office had no one working to take phone calls, he asked if they were in danger of being overstaffed.
Ardis Oelkers, an agent at the Extension office, said they have been busy during the summer and needed another person because the summer brings more activities and workload. She also stressed that they have had the money in the budget to hire more people.
“We’re just barely getting by,” Oelkers said. “The little things aren’t getting done. They are getting pushed aside.”
Kjelshus also said that because of the limited amount of people, they have had to answer the phone and take care of the people who come into the office, which leaves them without time to plan or teach people.
After the commissioners approved the motion to move Kjelshus to full time, Kjelshus and Oelkers thanked them.
The commissioners ended the meeting by approving the report of investments and pledged securities from the treasurer, which had been tabled from the previous meeting.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 09:07
Written by The Herald-News
C’erra Dawn Clark was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Friday, July 26, to 33 months in prison in connection with her guilty plea to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on July 26, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, Clark, a 23-year-old resident of Poplar, was sentenced to a term of 33 months in prison, a special assessment of $100 and three years supervised release.
In an offer of proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On March 18, 2012, Clark became frustrated and shook her infant child and threw the infant on the bed. Clark admitted to law enforcement that she had shaken the baby. Another individual witnessed this, and recalled seeing Clark shake the baby enough to “really upset him.” Shortly after Clark shook her, the baby began having seizures.
The child was taken to the local hospital then transported out of state to a Colorado children’s hospital, where she was diagnosed with retinal hemorrhages and underwent an operative procedure involving the placement of a bilateral subdural-peritoneal shunt. The child’s diagnosis for fully-restored sight is “guarded,” as described by medical personnel.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the “truth in sentencing” guidelines mandate that Clark will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, she does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for “good behavior.” However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Peck Tribes Criminal Investigation Division.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:12
Written by The Herald-News
Dale Bertram appeared in the Montana 15th Judicial Court, July 24.
He revoked his previous not guilty to the felony charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and the misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and changed his plea to guilty to both charges after reaching a plea agreement. Judge David Cybulski advised Bertram of his rights upon entry of the guilty plea before the defendant gave his statement of guilt.
According to court documents, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputies Vernon First and Patrick O’Connor responded to a report about two people trying to break into Al’s Mini Storage in Culbertson.
The officers observed a black Dodge Charger and Dodge Ram pickup parked near storage unit #35 and the individuals were identified as Dale Bertram and Michelle Parker, who were both from Washington.
Court documents said that after the deputies advised Bertram of the report of suspicious activity, Bertram said he and Parker were trying to break into a unit in hopes getting Parker some furniture, except the lock had been changed. Parker told officers that the unit belonged to her and the storage unit was in her name. Officers later confirmed the story after they had talked to a Williston, N.D., man named Anthony, who loaned Parker money to pay to rent the unit. Anthony also said he did not change the lock.
O’Connor noticed Bertram’s behavior to be similar to someone under the influence of methamphetamines. After O’Connor advised Bertram of his rights, Bertram agreed to speak to the deputy and sign a waiver of his rights. He told O’Connor that he has a methamphetamine addiction and he ingested the drug earlier. The deputy later found a clear plastic baggie in Bertram’s front coin pocket, which appeared to have a small amount of clear, crystalline substance.
He later found an Altoids tin that contained, a soft spongy material that was damp, which Bertram said was used to clean his methamphetamine pipe. When O’Connor searched Bertram’s Dodge Charger, he found a glass smoking pipe with burnt residue and a used syringe. Bertram confirmed the pipe was for smoking marijuana and the syringe was used to inject methamphetamine.
O’Connor also noticed Parker’s behavior to be similar to Bertram’s. After advising her of her rights per Miranda, Parker agreed to speak to O’Connor and said she was a methamphetamine addict and recent had smoked the drug. She also signed a search waiver and O’Connor found a small plastic case in her purse, which had similar contents to the baggie on Bertram. O’Connor also found a green, hard plastic tube, which contained a clear, glass smoking pipe wrapped in a paper towel. The pipe had scorch marks on the outside and white residue inside the bowl, which Parker confirmed was methamphetamine. Both she and Bertram were arrested and transported to the Roosevelt County Detention Center for arrest processing.
Cybulski told Bertram that the penalty for criminal possession of dangerous drugs is a fine up to $50,000, or imprisonment up to five years, or both. The penalty for the misdemeanor charge of drug possession of drug paraphernalia is a prison sentence up to six months, or a fine up to the amount of $500 or both. A pre-sentence investigation was also ordered.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:11
Written by The Herald-News
The Tobacco Prevention Coalition of Northeast Montana’s annual action plan for the coming year was approved by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Tobacco Use Prevention Program.
The annual action plan addresses the public health crisis caused by all forms of commercial tobacco products. The coalition’s plan is directed towards reducing the disease, disability and death related to tobacco use.
This community-based program concentrates on the four goals as set forth by the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program.
The four goals include: (1) Building community-level capacity for tobacco prevention work; (2) Preventing local youth from beginning a lifetime of addiction to tobacco products; (3) Eliminating exposure to the hazardous effects of secondhand smoke and actively supporting the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act of 2005; and (4) Eliminating disparities related to tobacco use and its effects among certain population groups such as women of childbearing age, Native Americans and low-income residents.
The Regional Tobacco Prevention Coalition serves the residents of Daniels and Roosevelt counties and the Fort Peck Tribes. Any community member or organization is invited to be a member or to be on the coalition mailing list. Planning meetings will be held quarterly with the next meeting planned for Aug. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Roosevelt County Conference Room at 124 Custer St. in Wolf Point. Lunch will be provided. If you would like an agenda, a copy of the work plan or to be placed on the mailing list, contact Bev Azure, coordinator, at 653-6212.
Montana has a toll-free tobacco quit line available at 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or at www.tobaccofree.mt.gov. Quit line coaches are trained to assist in the quitting effort and have training tailored toward Native American sacred practices. Support materials and sessions are provided free by the quit line.
Further information, materials and assistance for tobacco prevention planning may be obtained from health departments and tobacco prevention coalition staff: in Daniels County, Mary Nyhus at 783-5366; in Roosevelt County, Bev Azure at 653-6212 and Bonnie Wemmer at 653-6223; and Fort Peck Tribal Tobacco Prevention, Brett Mudgett at 768-7919.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 09:31