Written by Herald-News
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force is launching a membership drive in an effort to increase the membership in terms of both numbers and a diverse cross section of the county population.
The task force plans and implements strategies and activities that help reduce alcohol-related crashes, many with injuries and fatalities. The task force is not an arm of law enforcement.
Montana has historically had one of the highest alcohol fatality rates in the nation with annual averages of about 10 percent of crashes being alcohol or drug related. That accounts for nearly 50 percent of deaths on Montana’s roads.
While law enforcement and other professionals are members of the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force, everyone is welcome. Views and concerns from the public are sought from people from all walks of life, including parents, daycare providers, business owners, representatives of the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, insurance agents, educators, students, senior citizens and others are encouraged to participate. People who can communicate, problem solve, organize, analyze data, write, stuff envelopes, hang posters, distribute brochures, facilitate groups and volunteer in various ways are needed.
Several meetings to organize a DUI task force were held between late 2013 and April 2014 when the county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force. The group that had been meeting as a steering committee comprised of elected officials, law enforcement and county residents, approved by-laws during its first official meeting Wednesday, May 7.
Macdonald chairs the task force. The other officers are: Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada, vice chair; Mary Vine, who also serves as coordinator for the task force, secretary; and Kahlil Wehbe, treasurer.
The DUI Task Force meets monthly at the Roosevelt County Health Department on Custer Street across from the courthouse in the community services conference room. The next scheduled meeting will be Wednesday, March 4, at 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.
Written by John Plestina
The start of the public portion of the Wolf Point School Board meeting, Monday, Feb. 9, was delayed about two hours while the board heard five student disciplinary hearings and one personnel issue during a lengthy closed executive session.
During the public session, three of five unnamed students were expelled from school for the remainder of the current school year. Three are eligible for readmittance hearings for the 2015-16 school year. One student was expelled for a full calendar year with a hearing required before that student could return to school. One student will be readmitted at the current time.
The board decided in favor of the Wolf Point Educational Support Staff Association for the personnel hearing.
In other business, the board approved a $5,651 expenditure to Great Western Park and Playground of Wellsville, Utah, for playground equipment for Southside Elementary School and $16,744 to Galley Inc., of Jupiter, Fla., to update the kitchen at Southside. Purchase order review by the board is required with purchases that exceed $5,000.
In another matter, the trustees approved the resignations of superintendent Joe Paine, teacher Megan Helmer and computer lab paraprofessional Patricia Vine.
The board also approved hiring teacher Daisha Douglas as after-school program substitute and Stan Moran Jr. as assistant high school track coach.
The board also approved a resolution, authorizing the next trustee election with ballots accepted until Tuesday, May 5. Nomination petitions for board openings are available at the district office. Balloting will be by mail-in ballot.
Six trustees must be elected. There are three-year terms in Districts 3 and 4, two-year terms in Districts 1 and 5, and one-year terms in District 2 and 6.
Election judges will be Peny Delger, Pat Henry, Shelly Rodenberg and Pat Will.
Written by John Plestina
An accused drunk driver created a fireball with a shower of sparks coming from a bare rim on the front end of a pickup truck on U.S. Hwy. 2, a few miles west of Bainville Saturday, Jan. 31.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick O’Connor and deputy Chelbi Brugh stopped the pickup driven by Brian B. Suggs, 33, of Mesa, Ariz., near mile marker 656 at 12:42 a.m. after the dispatcher reported that the driver of a semi reported that his trailer had been sideswiped by another vehicle resulting in extensive damage.
O’Connor and Brugh noticed the white pickup traveling toward them on the highway with a shower of sparks coming from the front end and initiated a traffic stop.
According to Roosevelt County undersheriff John Summers, O’Connor and Brugh found two male occupants in the pickup that appeared intoxicated.
He said Suggs was driving with a suspended Arizona driver’s license.
O’Connor and Brugh performed a field sobriety test and arrested Suggs for driving under the influence, criminal endangerment, operating a vehicle while the privilege to do so is suspended or revoked, failure to carry proof of insurance, failure to remove injurious material from a highway following a motor vehicle crash, failure to give information to the other driver in a motor vehicle crash and failure to give notice by the quickest means of apparent damage over $500. The criminal endangerment charge is a felony.
Summers said debris left on the highway from the collision between Suggs’ vehicle and the semi trailer punctured a hole in the gas tank of a RCSO patrol vehicle that was responding to assist O’Connor and Brugh. That vehicle had to be towed from the scene.
Summers said Suggs is an oilfield worker.
Sugg’s passenger was not charged.
Written by John Plestina
A burglary at the Gold Dust Casino east of Bainville Wednesday, Jan. 7, has been linked to a Williston, N.D., crime ring.
Seven people ― five men and two women ― are alleged to have stolen from 15 businesses and are facing a total of 169 charges in Williams County District Court in North Dakota. According to a North Dakota court affidavit, the thefts include a safe, vehicles, a jackhammer and a drone.
Additional charges in Montana are expected following an investigation by the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.
RCSO undersheriff John Summers said the RCSO is working with North Dakota authorities.
“We collected some evidence. A cash drawer was thrown into a ditch,” Summers said. “Video from the Gold Dust Casino showed a pickup. We’re building our case.”
The RCSO sent the video to be enhanced and the cash drawer was sent to a forensics lab for additional fingerprints to be lifted.
RCSO Sgt. Tim Lingle has interviewed a male suspect in the Williams County Corrections Center who is believed to be part of the crime ring.
“Williams County detectives invited him to come down to do an interview,” Summers said.
He said Lingle will conduct a follow-up interview soon.
Summers said Lingle is also working with North Dakota police and Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement with an investigation of a burglary of a smoke shop just east of the state line that occurred shortly before the Gold Dust burglary. Summers said he believes the BIA is involved because the smoke shop might be owned by a North Dakota tribe.
Following the Gold Dust burglary, that occurred between 6:18 and 6:45 a.m., a witness saw two people flee in a Toyota Tacoma pickup east on U.S. Hwy. 2 into North Dakota.
Williams County Sheriff’s Capt. Verlan Kvande said Friday, Feb. 6, that four of the seven individuals were lodged in the Williams County Corrections Center, two had bonded out and there was an outstanding warrant for one person.
Kvande identified the seven individuals as: Brian Campbell of Oklahoma; Ernesto Difabio of Pennsylvania; Justin Johnson of Williston, wanted on an outstanding warrant; Connie Kritikos of Williston; Jesse Kritikos of Williston; Shawn Kritikos of Williston; and Bridget Whritenour of Williston.
Some of the people involved are also facing drug charges in North Dakota.
Neither Summers, nor Kvande, identified which of the seven individuals are suspects in the Gold Dust Casino burglary.
Summers said the investigation is continuing and charges will be filed at some point in the future. Those individuals would face charges in 15th District Court in Wolf Point.
Written by John Plestina
More than two months after several parents and some school district personnel told the Wolf Point School Board they disagreed with an unwritten policy that precluded school administrators from coaching, the board voted, Monday, Feb. 9, to open the door for the superintendent, principals and the athletic director to apply for coaching positions.
The board voted 4-0 to allow administrators to have equal opportunities to apply for coaching positions.
“I don’t know if I agree with it, but we have to do something,” school board chairman Martin DeWitt said.
He had questioned whether the change would be the right move for the district during the previous two board meetings.
DeWitt said during the December meeting that he was concerned whether a system of checks and balances would be in place if an administrator were to serve as a coach and evaluate him or herself. DeWitt said there could be a loss of the level of chain of command.
The approval came during an approval of extra-curricular evaluation procedures.
It includes that coach evaluations will be completed at the conclusion of each season, head coaches will give input on the evaluation of their assistant coaches and individual evaluations will be held by two administrators and the activities director if a plan of improvement is needed or dismissal is recommended.
Activities director Mike Erickson said during the December school board meeting that Glasgow — a high school the size of Wolf Point — has a football coaching staff of seven while Wolf Point had two [staff coaches] in 2014. He said it is sometimes difficult finding coaches. Erickson was not present for the meeting Monday.
The approval includes that no more than two administrators or the activities director may coach during any single season and that no administrator or activities director may coach during more than two seasons.
Other restrictions include: if an administrator or activities director holds a coaching position, the evaluation will be by the superintendent and principal; the superintendent and principal will evaluate the activities director concerning that individual’s coaching duties; and the superintendent and activities director would evaluate a superintendent’s coaching duties.