Written by Jason Frederick
Dear friends and neighbors of Roosevelt County:
Our jail is in dire need of replacement and we have the opportunity on Nov. 4 to make it happen. The importance and urgency of this matter can’t be overstated. If we fail to act soon, the financial impact our taxpayers will face in the near future could be enormous and far above the relatively minor cost of replacing the structure now.
Our jail is woefully outdated and has been at capacity or above for a long time. The problem was compounded following a legal action recently brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union, resulting in our bed capacity being cut nearly in half. Simply put, we don’t have the room to accommodate all the offenders we’re bringing in. Felony arrests, particularly for narcotics-related offenses, have risen sharply in the last five years and continues to climb.
When we exceed our capacity, overflow Roo-sevelt County inmates are housed in other facilities, some as far as 400 miles away. The financial burden this puts on our taxpayers is enormous and the costs are only going up. The detention officers and deputies do a commendable job, but there are limits to what can be accomplished with the resources available. Plus, a lot of the costs associated with housing inmates in other facilities are completely out of control.
We are working hard to remain in compliance with federal guidelines, but our jail is old and some issues just can’t be corrected without building a new facility. If Roosevelt County lost a lawsuit stemming from the inadequacies of our jail, we would be required to build a new jail on top of paying out to satisfy a judgment against us. We are between a rock and a hard spot here, folks; one way or another, we have to build a new jail.
The projected cost of building a new 60-bed facility is approximately $11.86 million.
The building would be constructed on property the county already owns, near the existing courthouse in Wolf Point. Estimated cost for a residential taxpayer on your primary house at $100,000 would be around $47 per year. The greatest share of the cost of the expanded jail would be born by the 15 largest taxpayers of the county, including utilities, pipelines, oil production equipment and commercial agriculture entities.
In the event Roosevelt County didn’t need all 60 beds, those extra beds would be leased out to neighboring counties, thereby offsetting a large amount of the operating costs of the jail. Several other counties in Montana operate this way and their taxpayers see a huge savings as a result.
The majority of the voters during the June primary voted in favor of building a new jail, but since the voter turnout was relatively low, a 60 percent majority was required for it to pass. We missed out by only a few percentage points last time, so it won’t take much to put us over the edge. I’m asking everyone to please pass the word to your neighbors, family and friends to come out on Nov. 4 and vote in favor of building this new jail.
Sheriff Jason Frederick, jail administrator
(Paid Letter To The Editor)
Written by Herald-News
The James E. Shanley Library on the Fort Peck Community College campus in Poplar will host a five-panel exhibit which chronicles the civic political history of women in Montana between Tuesday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 31.
Montana women seized their right to vote in November 1914 when suffrage was extended to most women in the state. To help celebrate this important centennial, an ad hoc committee of the Mans-field Library/University of Montana faculty, staff, students and alumni created the exhibit, “Leading the Way — Montana Woman Suffrage & the Struggle for Equal Citizenship,” with the support of Humanities Montana, an affiliate of the National Endowment for Humanities. Libraries across the Treasure State are hosting the exhibit and planning events to celebrate the centennial. View the exhibition 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the library. The exhibition is free.
For more information, contact Anita Scheetz at 768-6340.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners discussed moving forward in the near future with a four-county partnership to share a human resources professional, during the weekly commission meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Roosevelt, Valley, Daniels and Sheridan counties would share the employee.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said a lawsuit could have been avoided if the county had a human resources person in place when former sheriff Freedom Crawford fired a deputy a few years ago.
Commission chairman Duane Nygaard said that situation was an example of the need for a human resources person.
Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen will look into legal issues related to the county participation.
To date, only Roosevelt County has not approved the agreement.
The commissioners accepted a recommendation from Sheriff Jason Frederick to reinstate the terminated employee, named on the commission meeting agenda as Steve Barr.
In other business, the commissioners approved a one-year interlocal law enforcement agreement with Bainville, Culbertson and Froid.
The agreement provides the three communities with a minimum of 24 hours of combined law enforcement services per week. A little more than half of that time is to be spent in Culbertson.
The annual fees the county is assessing each municipality is as follows: Bainville, $10,000; Cul-
bertson, $22,000; and Froid, $7,500.
Macdonald said Sheriff Jason Frederick told him he would not oppose the agreement for one year but he wants it revisited after one year.
The commissioners also awarded a contract to Shane Bishop of Malta for $3.50 per ton to crush gravel.
Written by John Plestina
A woman riding a skateboard on U.S. Hwy. 2, just west of Poplar, died after being struck by a car, Monday, Oct. 13.
The Montana Highway Patrol identified her as Jaimee Sweet, 20, of Poplar.
MHP trooper Steve Nard identified the driver as Elizabeth Chase, 35, of Brockton. She was traveling westbound on U.S. Hwy. 2 in a Chevrolet Malibu and legally passed another vehicle while Sweet was westbound in the eastbound lane when the accident occurred, Nard told The Herald-News.
He said Sweet was not wearing reflective material when she was struck from behind.
Nard said Chase performed CPR on Sweet until an ambulance arrived. Sweet was transported to Northeast Montana Health Services - Poplar Campus where she was pronounced dead.
Nard said Wednesday, Oct. 15, that no citations had been issued, but an investigation was continuing.
Written by Herald-News
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced Thursday, Oct. 16, that state wildlife officials decided against shipping some of the 145 bison captured from Yellowstone National Park to the Bronx Zoo in New York and several other locations across the nation, choosing to send all the bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to transfer all the bison to the reservation instead of following a recommendation to divide the animals among the reservation, a New York-based wildlife consortium, Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation and the State of Utah.
The bison are now being held on a ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner under a five-year agreement that comes to an end next month, adding urgency to finding them a new home.
Commissioners said they are confident in the Fort Peck Tribes’ ability to manage the bison after successfully handling the one previous relocation of 63 Yellowstone bison in 2012. Commissioners also wanted to keep the animals in the state in anticipation of a Montana bison conservation plan to be completed next year.
Commissioner Larry Wetsit, a Fort Peck tribal member, said he is certain the tribes will work with the other groups interested in the bison.
“It’s always been the intent of the tribe to re-establish buffalo somewhere,” Wetsit said. “It’s always been our goal, and we will always work with others to ensure that does happen.”
An environmental analysis of the relocation proposal is pending. The recent vote is conditional on the completion of that analysis.
Yellowstone bison are considered extremely valuable because they are one of the few wild herds left that have no cattle genes. These 145 bison were captured a decade ago under an experimental program to start new herds using the genetically pure Yellowstone animals.
They spent years in quarantine to make sure they weren’t carrying the disease brucellosis, which has caused problems for the cattle industry.
The FWP agency recommendations The Herald-News previously reported would have given the Wildlife Conservation Society 10 bison for zoos in the Bronx, Queens and Ohio. That recommendation was in recognition of the Bronx zoo being the founder of the American Bison Society, Montana Wildlife Division Administrator Ken McDonald said.
The society was instrumental in conserving the last bison before they were wiped out in North America.
The state agency recommended only 70 of the bison go to Montana’s Fort Peck Indian Reservation, with 35 to Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation and the remaining 30 to Utah’s Division of Wildlife.
A fifth applicant, the private American Prairie Wildlife Reserve in north-central Montana, was dropped from consideration after wildlife officials said they wouldn’t relocate bison to non-tribal lands in the state until the bison conservation plan is completed.