Wolf Point Herald

City Council To Ponder Police Wages And Back Pay

The Wolf Point City Council is expected to consider a change in the way police officers are paid when they meet Monday, April 21. Retroactive pay adjustments for officers might also be on that agenda.
The city’s personnel, policy and wage committee, now comprised of mostly new members, reached conclusions Wednesday, April 2, on police compensation issues dating back to 2005.
The PPW committee will recommend to the city council that officers be paid an annual salary based on 2,184 hours per year. That amount would be divided by 24 twice-monthly pay dates, giving officers the same amount on every pay, something several officers said they were concerned about.
Wolf Point police officers have requested that the city pay them an additional four hours for every 14-day period, giving them pay for every hour they work. They are paid salary twice monthly.
The officers work an average of 2,184 hours each year. The national standard for police officers is 2,080 hours per year.
City clerk and treasurer Marlene Mahlum said she discussed the issue with the Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority and was told that while the traditional 40-hour work week with overtime paid above 40 hours applies to most workers, federal law allows for law enforcement officers to work up to 86 hours during 14-day periods without paying overtime. Federal law considers it a work period, not a work week.
Lt. Brian Erwin said officers are working as much as 86 hours during 14-day periods without overtime pay.
He addressed a grievance letter that was sent to the city on behalf of the police officers.
“The grievance itself is actually skewed,” Erwin said, adding that the officers were under the understanding that they were eligible for overtime above 40 hours.
“What we’re paid and what we’re worth is not the same,” Erwin said.
“The officers don’t care how they’re paid. They just want to be paid for the hours they are here,” he said.
“I want to be fair. I don’t want to hurt anyone,” city councilman and committee chairman Rollie Paulson said. “My goal is to have a satisfied solution by the next council meeting.”
There was also a discussion about possibly paying officers per hour worked, rather than salary.
The recommendation to the council includes that they continue to be paid salary.
Also at issue is back pay for hours not paid dating as far back as 2005 for one member of the department and 2006 for another.
The committee discussed discounting the amount by 33 percent and not including the current year.
There were concerns that former employees might request back pay.
Paulson said he would discuss the matter with the city attorney.
The committee will meet again Wednesday, April 9, to make a decision on a recommendation to the city council.
There was also discussion that an additional police officer is needed because of the increase in police calls.
Mahlum asked if hiring a sixth police officer would reduce the number of work hours of the other five.
Erwin responded that he would not reduce work hours if an additional officer is hired because of the increasing work load that keeps the officers the city currently has busy.
“There’s no calling in sick. If we’re down one, we’re to the pin,” he said.
In an unrelated matter, the committee voted to recommend to the city council that health insurance costs for all municipal employees increase by 1.6 percent with no change in the available insurance options. The city offers four plans.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:44

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Lions Club Ramps Up For Annual Pancake Breakfast

A tradition in Wolf Point for more than 40 years, the annual Wolf Point Lions Club’s pancake breakfast is just three weeks away.
A major fundraiser for the Lions, the pancake breakfast has served between 300 and 500 people during past years.
“It’s where we make our money for the things we do around town,” Lion Jerald Petersen said.
Volunteers from the Lions Club cook, serve and clean up.
The longtime breakfast fundraiser has been held in the Elks Club most years. Trinity Lutheran Church hosted it for a few years.
This year’s breakfast will be held at the Wolf Point Elks Club, Saturday, May 3. Tickets are available from any Lion.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:42

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New Owners, Familiar Faces At Old Town Grill Restaurant

HN.4.10.14.OLD.TN.GRILLThe new owners of the long-established Old Town Grill on U.S. Hwy. 2 at Third Avenue North are familiar faces in the restaurant.
Brad and Dee Dee Iwen became the owners of the 35-year-old restaurant Dec. 1, 2013. Dee Dee Iwen, who more recently worked as a counselor at Northside School, and her daughters, Ashley and Lindsay Iwen, all worked in the restaurant prior to purchasing it.
Brad Iwen is a teacher at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar and owns a construction business. He also works part-time in the restaurant.
The business is a family affair with mother and both daughters working nearly every day.
“We changed ownership real quick and we decided to keep the name,” Dee Dee Iwen said.
The restaurant has operated with the Old Town Grill name for several years. It opened in 1979 as the Burger Kitchen with dine-in and car hop service.
The Old Town Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and includes American and Mexican entrees.
Barbecued ribs cooked in a pressure cooker are now offered and are cooked in a smoker.
“Most people — their ribs aren’t smoked. They’re just baked. Mine are smoked,” Brad Iwen said.
Homemade ice cream and pies that Lindsay Iwen makes are served and are available for sale.
Before the Iwens bought the Old Town Grill, desserts were not offered.
Several employees of the restaurant stayed on after the sale. Laurie Lien is a server who has worked in the restaurant since it opened in 1979.
“I call her our glue. She holds everything together. She’s a wonderful asset,” Dee Dee Iwen said.
Breakfast cook Jesse Johnson is the son of the former owner.
The Iwens are not new to business in Wolf Point. They owned the Hi-Way Market grocery store for 10 years. Brad Iwen’s grandmother previously owned it.
“That’s where we got our experience in food service,” he said.
The Iwens are considering adding broasted chicken to the menu. That, and the homemade ice cream and pies are all Brad I-wen’s grandmother’s recipes and were sold in the Hi-Way Market.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:41

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Wolf Point Man Arrested For Murder In Beating Death

A man authorities say beat one man to death and severely injured another Friday, March 21, has been arrested and charged.
Laramie Wayne Wallace, 47, of Frazer, died Friday, March 21, of injuries he received during a brutal beating in a residence in Wolf Point.
Another man was severely beaten during the same incident and remained hospitalized in Billings early this week.
Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice investigator Ken Trottier identified the man arrested as Mervin C. Hale, 41, of Wolf Point. He was taken into tribal custody. Trottier said he is charged with murder and other offenses.
A motive, additional charges and if more arrests are likely have not been made public.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:39

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More Information Made Public About Drug Raid

The Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice has identified three people arrested during a drug raid at a mobile home at 525 Cascade St. Thursday, March 20.
Tribal investigator Ken Trottier said a search warrant issued by U.S. District Court was executed and Hoss Youpee, who also uses the name Raymond Russett, age not reported, was taken into tribal custody on drug charges. Trottier said methamphetamine is suspected and a federal investigation is pending. He said there was not a drug lab in the mobile home.
Trottier reported two additional arrests. Chilli Walking Eagle and Millie Runs Through were arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The investigation is continuing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 12:38

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