Written by Herald-News
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department responded to the new Dakota Dollar Plus store on the 400 block of Cascade Street Friday, Feb. 13. The building that formerly housed Top Notch Video, filled with smoke when a popcorn popper overheated. There was no reported fire damage and no injuries. The Wolf Point Police Department and Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice assisted at the scene. (Photo by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
District Judge David Cybulski agreed to reduce bail for a Williston, N.D., couple with companion felony drug cases from $25,000 each to $5,000 with waivers of extraction Wednesday, Feb. 11, allowing them to return to jobs in a Williston tattoo and piercing business. Both were freed on bond the following day.
Joshua Wayne Jones, 36, was arraigned on a felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Melissa Ann Jewett, 32, was arraigned immediately after Jones on felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer.
Both pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to the Roose-velt County Attorney’s Office, the business that employs Jones and Jewett is Skinful Pleasures, a Williston tattoo and piercing parlor.
Both have tattoos on their necks and Jones has what is clearly a swastika on the right side of his neck.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick O’Connor and Deputy Chelbi Brugh arrested Jones and Jewett Monday, Jan. 19, after making contact with them inside the State Line Casino near Bainville. Casino staff had requested that the RCSO remove Jones and Jewett from the establishment.
The RCSO had prior contact with the pair when the Gold Dust Casino, also located near Bainville, called Dec. 31, 2014, telling deputies that Jones was making employees nervous. At that time, deputies told Jones and Jewett to leave the casino. According to the RCSO, Jewett had given a false name and birth date. The RCSO dispatch data center was not operational for checks of suspects.
Jewett’s true identity became known Jan. 19, as well as Jones being on federal probation for a counterfeiting conviction. It was later learned that Jones was off supervised probation.
“Deputies had received criminal history information about Jones violent tendencies and his prior arrests for drug possession and weapons possession,” a narrative from Roosevelt County Undersheriff John Summers read.
The narrative also stated that Jones tried several times to put his hands in his pockets and was told not to by O’Connor and Brugh at the State Line Casino. Jones had to be secured in handcuffs.
Methamphetamine and a knife were found in Jones pockets.
One hydrocodone pill was found on Jewett that she did not have a prescription for.
The car Jones and Jewett were driving when they were arrested was towed to the RCSO in Wolf Point and a search warrant was secured. More hydrocodone pills, a pill bottle with a name on it other than Jones’ or Jewett’s and several cell phones were found in the car and secured as evidence.
The car was released to Jones when he and Jewett bonded out of jail Thursday, Feb. 12.
May 11 trial dates are scheduled.
Written by John Plestina
Mothballing the existing municipal water treatment plant was considered when the Wolf Point City Council addressed concerns about connecting to the Assiniboine and Sioux Rural Water System with the city’s engineer during the monthly council meeting Monday, Feb. 19.
The Fort Peck Tribes has asked the city to connect to the ASRWSS as the primary source of municipal drinking water. City officials signed a letter of intent with the tribes in 2013 to connect to ASRWSS.
Engineer Jed Kirkland of Interstate Engineering of Nashua presented a report on the
ASRWSS and the possible city connection to it that Mayor Chris Dschaak and public works director Rick Isle requested before the city might sign the ASRWSS agreement with the Fort Peck Tribes.
The report addresses concerns that have been expressed about the reliability of the ASRWSS and its ability to continually supply the municipal system.
Kirkland advised the council to be sure the agreement is how they want it and explained pros and cons of retaining the existing water treatment plant as a backup system.
He presented options for mothballing the plant while keeping it in a position to be quickly restarted if the ASRWSS were to fail. The aging municipal system could become a secondary system. It includes the existing water treatment plant and several wells. Federal and state environmental regulations to prevent cross contamination were also addressed.
The report calls for mothballing procedures that include maintaining and lubricating equipment in the treatment plant, disconnection of the plant from the distribution and storage system, cleaning and reshaping the backwash pond to its original configuration and disinfections of wells upon a restart of the existing system.
Kirkland said removing pumps, filters, valves and other equipment from service in the treatment plant would result in a gradual deterioration of equipment. He cautioned about potential freezing up of valves not frequently used and deterioration of bearings and seals in pumps not used on a regular basis. Kirkland said he contacted the treatment plant equipment manufacturer and was cautioned about possible problems with equipment with long- or short-term shutdowns.
Partly at issue is the plan to use chloramines as the disinfectant for the ASRWSS and the current use of chlorine in the existing system. There are potential problems mixing chlorine and chloramines in the same water distribution system because the ammonia ratio in the water could change and there is a potential of state or federal violations.
A water system should be continuously used to meet state Department of Environmental Quality requirements.
“When you take a system like that offline, it’s going to deteriorate,” Kirkland said.
He cautioned that if the city were to shut down the existing system for three years or longer and were to then want to bring it back online, environmental regulations would require improvements to the latest standards.
“It’s not going to be a flip on a switch and you have water,” Kirkland said.
He also cautioned about potential odor and taste problems.
There is a potential risk of the city losing water rights because the state considers the rights dependent on historical use. Those rights can be adjusted against the wishes of municipal officials if there is no or reduced use.
According to Kirkland’s report, there is no plan to take or reduce water rights held by municipalities in the near future, but that no or reduced water use over an extended period of time could result in the state revisiting water rights if water is needed.
“Right now, your water rights are based on use,” Kirkland said.
He said the city should demonstrate historic use of the water rights. Kirkland said the state might not take away the water rights, but could.
He said the ASRWSS does not have a buffer and incoming water goes directly into the treatment plant.
Kirkland used the recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River near Glendive as an example.
There was no buffer, he said. Glendive had no pre-sedimentation ponds to buffer their water system. There is a concern that the ASRWSS does not use pre-sedimentation ponds.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency suggests but does not require ponds, Kirkland said.
He said the Dry Prairie Rural Water system on the east side of Roosevelt County would soon connect to the ASRWSS pipeline.
Dschaak said the council will want assurances and a possible opt-out clause.
Written by John Plestina
A local insurance company presented health insurance options to the Wolf Point School board negotiations committee and representatives of the two unions representing district employees Thursday, Feb. 12.
Brad Solberg, a licensed agent at Cassco Insurance Inc., presented alternatives to the Montana Unified School Trust to the committee and representatives of the Wolf Point Education Association, representing teachers, and the Wolf Point Educational Support Staff Association, representing non-certified paraprofessional aides, cafeteria workers, clerical staff and bus drivers.
MUST, a benefits provider for public-education in Montana with goals of providing high-quality, cost-effective health benefit plans and services throughout the state, is the current provider and offers choices of five insurance carriers.
Some questions remain about how some provisions of the Affordable Care Act could change language in the labor contract concerning employee insurance.
“The worst case scenario is you’ll stay where you’re at [with MUST],” Solberg said.
He said alternative carriers could include: PacificSource Insurance, a northwestern company that serves Idaho, Washington and Oregon; Montana Health CO-OP, a member-run, health insurance Co-op that began in 2013, offering affordable plans accepted by doctors and hospitals across the state; and Blue Cross/ Blue Shield. There are tiered rates that could very.
Federal Indian Health Service eligibility of many district employees is a factor.
“IHS changes the dynamic,” Solberg said.
He said insurance is rated on age, zip code and whether or not a person uses tobacco.
WPEA representative Patricia Toavs asked if all plans include prescriptions, dental and vision coverage.
Solberg responded that all include prescription coverage, but there is flexibility with enrollment for dental and vision coverage through other providers.
Toavs then asked about chronic health problems. She used asthma as an example.
Solberg said he is concerned that people are informed and know what they are choosing.
Toavs played devil’s advocate.
“Why should I change? MUST has been good to our district,” she said.
“Looking around doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with MUST,” Solberg said.
WPESSA president Jennifer Zimmerman said classified employees cannot afford MUST insurance premiums on what they are paid.
Solberg said two separate employee insurance groups are a possibility.
“There could be a scenario where one of them stays with MUST and one moves away [to different coverage],” he said.
Toavs said the WPEA contract requires that if the district changes insurance carriers, the coverage must be dollar for dollar the same.
School board chairman Martin DeWitt told Solberg to get a proposal with costs to the district as soon as possible.
Written by John Plestina
An engineer told the Wolf Point City Council the aging sewer main in the downtown area is not in as poor of a condition as had been thought during the monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 19.
Engineer Jed Kirkland of Interstate Engineering of Nashua said a camera was used to inspect the main.
“It’s not that bad. I’ve seen worse,” he said.
City officials had considered having to reconstruct Main Street soon. It had not been done in over 20 years.
Mayor Chris Dschaak said the Wolf Point Village apartment project is on hold. He said the city has not heard from the developer for more than a month.
Council member Tina Bets His Medicine, who is also a founding member of Wolf Point Pound Puppies, told the council that Pound Puppies has rescued 528 dogs from the city’s pound since February 2013 and found homes for them. Dschaak commended the organization for saving an average of more than 20 dogs each month.