Written by Herald-News
The Searchlight and The Herald-News have hired a 2015 Culbertson High School graduate as a summer intern and possibly a long-term writer.
Angela Rose Benson, 18, the daughter of Susan and Bret Benson of Culbertson, recently began covering news and events in Culbertson, Bainville and Froid and some Wolf Point area news.
Benson will work with Searchlight employee Nancy Mahan.
Benson is the sister of Jaimee Green of Culbertson, who is marketing manager of Roosevelt Medical Center and a former Herald-News editor.
Benson will be pursuing a degree through California Coast University this fall. She has worked in several Culbertson area restaurants, the dietary department at Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson and the marketing department of Northeast Montana Health Services on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes Reservation.
“I am excited for the opportunity to explore my interest in journalism while getting hands- on experience in writing and photography,” Benson said.
Originally from Los Angeles, Calif., Benson moved to Froid with her family in 2008 and relocated to Culbertson in 2012. Benson and her family moved to the area to be closer to her nephews and her sister.
Written by Angela Rose Benson
Roosevelt County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday, June 9, in Roosevelt Medical Center’s Tele-med room.
There the committee continued scheduling various community activities they plan to participate in throughout the summer.
“The Committee is very dedicated to being active in the county and wants to continue educating community members about the importance of being prepared for natural and man-made disasters that could occur,” said Jaimee Green, LEPC secretary/treasurer.
Currently, the committee is working on ensuring the county’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan meets the county’s needs by working with Mike Kemp, the contractor representing the Fargo-based company hired to review the county’s current plan. Kemp will make changes that better fit the county’s current needs based on input he receives from both the committee and community members.
In an effort to create awareness of the committee, its members recently created a logo and ordered t-shirts, which members paid for themselves.
They plan to be represented during events taking place throughout the county this summer, including the Wild Horse Stampede and Wolf Point Centennial Celebration in July and the Roosevelt County Fair in Culbertson in August. Since hosting this meeting, they included a float in the Frontier Day’s Parade held in Culbertson on June 13.
“We are always looking for more representation from the communities and need people to come forward and join our committee. Our mission is to continue making sure people are aware of the importance of being prepared,” said Lee Allmer, LEPC chairman.
The committee meets the second Tuesday of each month and alternates meeting locations in the Culbertson, Poplar and Wolf Point.
Current members include: Allmer, chairman; Debbie Heckmun, vice-chairman; Green, secretary/treasurer; Dan Sietsema, Roosevelt County Emergency management director; Sharon Dschaak; John Carlbom; Russell Kirn; and Teresia Moore.
Written by John Plestina
One Arizona man is dead and another is facing multiple felony charges following an accident with a man falling from a towed deck he was riding on north of Culbertson Sunday, June 21.
Montana Highway Patrol trooper Seth Adams said the single vehicle accident happened near the rodeo grounds and was reported at 4:46 p.m.
Adams said the deceased man was riding on a deck for a house that was being towed with a chain by a 2013 Ford F150 pickup.
Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick identified the deceased man as David Penski, 30, of Vail, Ariz.
“He died from blunt force trauma to the head,” Frederick said.
Adams said Penski was transported by ambulance to Roosevelt Medical Center in Cul-
bertson. From there, he was flown to a Billing hospital where he died.
The RCSO identified the driver as William Flynt, 36, of Tucson, Ariz. He is facing several charges in 15th District Court. Flynt is charged with felony driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injuries or a death, criminal endangerment and failure to carry proof or exhibit insurance.
“There may be more charges filed,” Adams said.
“Alcohol and drugs are considered a factor in this crash,” he said.
“The [crash] scene is roughly 100 yards long,” Adams said.
He said Flynt and Penski worked for a construction company in Culbertson. Both are listed as Arizona residents.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved two contracts with Northeast Montana Health Services Tuesday, June 23, for the purchase and delivery of 2,000 Meals On Wheels meals in Wolf Point and 100 in Poplar at $12 per meal and $2.50 for each delivery.
A separate contract was approved with Buckhorn Cafe of Poplar for 500 non-delivered meals at $8.50 each.
In other business, the commissioners approved a contract for former Wolf Point School District superintendent Paul Huber to serve as needed for services to the county superintendent of schools.
The clerk of the District Court and county superintendent of schools are combined positions and do not require state certification as a superintendent.
In the event services are needed from Huber, he would receive $45 per hour and $23 per diem, lodging not included.
In another matter, the commissioners approved an interlocal agreement between the
Roosevelt County Attorney and city of Culbertson for the attorney to provide prosecutorial services.
The commissioners also approved a $5,200 request from Sheriff Jason Frederick for the purchase and installation of equipment for a car that will be used for the RCSO contract with Poplar for police services.
In other business, the commissioners discussed and took no action on a request from Wolf Point area resident Dick Johnson for guaranteed access on County Road 1071, near the Wolf Point airport, so that he can sell land.
Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said there are several ways to address it, but a preferred way would be to grant access to all property owners rather than a private easement.
Questions were raised that some of the land on the existing roadway could be tribal or trust lands.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Compensation Board granted raises that amount to less than 3 percent to all county elected officials Friday, June 12.
The county commissioners are mandated by state law to appoint a compensation board that establishes wages of the commissioners and all county elected officials. The three commissioners and county attorney automatically serve on the compensation board by state statute.
Raises of other county officials and their deputies are based on the pay increase given to the county clerk and recorder.
“We listen to them [compensation board] and we have the final say,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said. “It takes two commissioners to agree with the compensation board before a raise can be given.”
Following several unsuccessful attempts to set Hansen’s salary, she was given a $1,500 annual salary increase to $52,500.
The commissioners’ salaries also increase from $51,000 to $52,500.
Previously, Wolf Point Justice Court Judge Tracy Harada, who serves on the board, made a motion and Sheriff Jason Frederick, also a board member, seconded the motion to increase Hansen’s wages by $2,500. That motion failed. A second motion to increase Hansen’s annual salary by $1,500 and a third to increase her pay by $1,000 also failed.
County Commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard suggested a 1.6 percent increase.
Harada cited that the cost of living is increasing faster than wages.
Nygaard said the county’s cost for employee health insurance will increase by 9 percent the next fiscal year.
Harada also said some people have longevity as county employees and that could be considered for salary increases.
Macdonald said longevity pay would break Roosevelt County.
It was also said that the $300 monthly oil revenue stipend that county employees, including the county commissioners and all department heads, receive remains in place and is separate from salary. The county received $817,541 in oil industry revenue the last quarter.
The compensation board approved the stipend and the commissioners authorized it in July 2014 for all permanent non-elected county employees and for elected officials in August 2014.
The stipends are above and beyond salaries and were intended as an incentive for employees to remain on the job.
The stipends for county employees were a response to difficulty retaining sheriff’s deputies and employees of other departments, especially on the east end of the county where the cost of housing is high.
Macdonald said the oil stipend will remain for at least the next fiscal year, which will run from July 1 until June 30, 2016.
Three days earlier, the commissioners held a special public meeting to appoint other elected officials to the compensation board.
“They [Montana Legislature] are looking at changing that structure [of county compensation boards] at the state level,” Macdonald said.
The three county commissioners automatically serve on the board. They include Allen Bow-ker, elected in November 2014 to the seat formerly held by Jim Shanks. Hansen and Harada have been serving on the board and former sheriff Freedom Crawford was on it.
County elected officials that are eligible for the three appointments are the clerk and recorder, treasurer, clerk of the courts, sheriff, and both justice court judges [Wolf Point and Culbertson]. State law allows the commissioners to appoint between two and four citizen members at-large.
All of the elected officials that have been serving on the compensation board were reelected last year and sheriff Jason Frederick ― elected in November 2014 ― has not been on it.
Harada said she didn’t see a notice in the newspaper. She said her concern where there is documentation of when appointments were made in the past.
“We have always put on the county officials who have deputies who would be effected,” Macdonald said.
Macdonald said Frederick should be appointed.
Macdonald nominated Frederick, Hansen and Harada. Bowker seconded the nomination.
The commission voted 2-1 to approve the nominations with Nygaard casting the sole dissenting vote. He said he would have made a motion to appoint Hansen, county treasurer Betty Romo and Harada.
The commissioners reappointed the two citizen members of the board, Zane Panasuk of Culbertson to a three-year term and Dave Wemmer of Wolf Point to a two-year term.
Future staggered terms of board members were also discussed.