Written by John Plestina
The two Chicago, Ill., area residents accused by police of attempting to smuggle more than 40 pounds of marijuana across several states entered “not guilty” pleas in 15th District Court Wednesday, Sept. 16.
The seizure was the largest on record for the Wolf Point Police Department.
David Strasser, 23, of Chicago and Cheryl Oskvarek, 57, of Downers Grove, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, are charged with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute.
The WPPD arrested Oskvarek and Strasser on May 31 with assistance from the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice after a large quantity of a green leafy substance was found their vehicle. Police recovered 40½ pounds of marijuana in several plastic bags inside suitcases and duffle bags after a search warrant was obtained.
The WPPD estimates the street value between $100,000 and $125,000.
The charging documents allege that Strasser, the driver of the eastbound rented SUV with South Carolina license plates, was doing something at the center console while stopped at the traffic signal on U.S. Hwy. 2 at Fourth Avenue North.
WPPD Lt. Brian Erwin was stopped behind the SUV and a FPTDLJ officer was along side of it. The driver is alleged to have accelerated to 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. Erwin conducted the traffic stop near the Homestead Inn at 4:35 p.m.
An individual other than Oskvarek or Strasser had rented the SUV in Chicago two days prior. That person has not been identified.
Erwin said in early June that Oskvarek and Strasser were believed to have been en route from the Whitefish area back to Chicago.
Oskvarek and Strasser made initial appearances in Roosevelt County Justice Court before Judge Tracy Harada Monday, June 1.
Both were freed June 3 on $50,000 bond each that a person from Illinois posted with Billings bail bonding company Western Pawn, according to the Roosevelt County Attorney’s Office. The individual who posted the bonds has not been identified.
Written by Eric Killelea
The Wolf Point City Council on Monday, Sept. 21 considered reviewing state law to give teeth to its existing nuisance ordinance.
Mayor Chris Dschaak claimed the chief of police and director of public works were responsible for enforcing the nuisance ordinance either verbally or by written notice, but the departments were overworked and understaffed.
“How, when, why are we going to enforce this?” Dschaak told the council. “If people are not going to pay, who will pay? If we’re going to send out tickets, we have to have the backbone to do it.”
The ordinance defines a nuisance as “anything which is injurious to health and morals, indecent or offensive to the senses or an obstruction to the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life in property.” The city clerk’s office has received continuous complaints over the past year on improperly maintained or sought after animals, buildings, landscaping, junk vehicles and walkways.
The chief of police and director of public works can notify people accused of a nuisance. If the nuisance is not remedied within seven days, then the department heads can file a complaint before the city judge. People found guilty of “creating, keeping or maintaining a nuisance” have 48 hours to fix the situation or become subject to a “penalty for each day of noncompliance thereafter.”
Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen cautioned the city clerk when learning the office has mailed nuisance notices to people, sent city employees or contracted cleanup crews to the property and added unpaid costs to tax bills.
“All we have to do is have a police report, write a citation and enforce it. The power is there for us to prosecute this,” Knudsen said. “… We’re looking at fines. I think you’re setting up the city to have bills that are not paid. But I find that the threat of jail tends to work.”
The mayor was not alone in expressing his frustration over the rising number of nuisance complaints of “safety hazards” and “eyesores,” especially during events such as Wild Horse Stampede that are meant draw visitors.
“There are people that are trying to make this a better place,” Dschaak said.
Written by Herald-News
Area schools and other area residents celebrated Native American Day with a parade in Wolf Point on Friday, Sept. 25. (Photo by John Plestina)
Written by Eric Killelea
After participating in a campaign forum, Fort Peck Community College undergraduates accepted the return of their incumbent student government leader, voting him victorious in runoff results announced Monday evening.
Waycen Owens-Cyr, 20, a sophomore from Wolf Point, was elected president of the Fort Peck Student Senate with about 63 percent of the 91 votes cast on two campuses in the election. He beat Bryson Runsabove-Meyers, of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation and Josh Plummer, who did not attend the forum.
In the 2014-2015 election, Owens-Cyr received 60 percent of the votes to win the vice president ticket. He was asked to take over the presidential position only several weeks later due to unforeseen events and had to rearrange the cabinet. His platform for 2015-2016 school year involved improving opportunities for scholarships, student lunches, childcare, transportation and job placement.
“Attending Fort Peck Community College gave me the opportunities to learn about what I love,” Owens-Cyr told voters during the forum Wednesday, Sept. 23 on the Poplar campus. “We are all in the pursuit of a better future and came here for ourselves and our families.”
The incumbent promised equality for both the Poplar and Wolf Point campuses, which educates nearly 500 students per semester. The college has served as a safe haven for potential students searching for low-cost education and job placement in a region privy to oil-field related employment, but it has struggled with graduation rates.
“I want to help students remember that they are here for their education,” Owens-Cyr said during an interview the night before the forum Tuesday, Sept. 22. “I will do what I can to make sure they achieve their education and career goals.”
Owens-Cyr, a competitive dancer, said he was honored to compete against the self-described motivational speaker and flute player Runsabove-Meyers, who offered similar actions and values when running for the presidential position that maintains a seat on the Fort Peck Community College Board of Directors.
Fellow student Newton Moala received about 59 percent of 90 votes to defeat Arthur Cantrell and Lori Plummer for student senate vice president. Vacancies for secretary and treasurer will be announced during the first senate meeting.
In the presidential runoff, it appeared that students appreciated the incumbent’s involvement in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Blue Stone Indian Club and the alcohol-and-drug free Video Game Club. The computer information technology major and math tutor said he was an enrolled Assiniboine and Sioux tribal member seeking to improve recruitment, graduation and employment.
“You can attend a Native American tribal college and it will be a quality education and pathway for your career,” Owens-Cyr said during the interview, adding his plans to earn his four-year degree at the Salish Kooteani College in Pablo. “I am getting an education at Fort Peck Community College first because someday I want to come back to my reservation and help build on how we run things here.”
Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture recognized three generations of the Sethre family for the 100-year anniversary of the family farm that remains a working farm with the original house. Pictured are (from left to right) chamber director Jan Bryan presenting a plaque to Phyllis and Gary Sethre, their daughter Heather Stefanik and grandson Luke Stefanik. (Photo by John Plestina)
One hundred years and five months after Henry Sethre filed for a homestead north of Wolf Point on April 15, 1915, his family remains on the same land and in the same house with a working farm.
The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture recognized Sethre Farms and three generations of the Sethre family for the 100-year anniversary of the family farm.
The oldest part of Gary and Phyllis Sethre’s house is the original house Henry Sethre built about 100 years ago.
“I think there are going to be a lot more 100-year farms in the next couple of years,” Gary Sethre said.
“We’re still in the same house on the same yard,” he said.
Henry Sethre was an early Roosevelt County settler who filed for his homestead after the Fort Peck Indian Reservation was opened to homesteading in 1913.
Congress passed the Fort Peck Allotment Act in 1908 that called for the survey and allotment of lands within the reservation and the sale or disposal of surplus lands for homesteads and townsites after allotments of 320 acres to each eligible Indian and allotments for churches, schools and the railroad.