Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point Educational Support Staff Association presented a proposed salary schedule to the Wolf Point School board negotiations committee during the third round of collective bargaining negotiations Thursday, Feb. 12.
The WPESSA is the union that represents classified school district employees that include non-certified aides, cafeteria workers, clerical staff and bus drivers.
Proposals include 20 annual steps with the following starting and maximum annual hourly rates. For paraprofessionals, the starting wage would be $10.30 hourly with a Step 20 cap at $19.80. The other ranges for various positions are: custodians, $10.76-$20.69; secretaries, $10.84-$20.84; head custodians, $12.27-$23.59; maintenance director, $12.77-$24.55; and district office staff and the IT tech, $13.63-$26.20. Instructional paraprofessionals holding an associate’s degree or higher would receive $1 more per hour.
WPESSA president Jennifer Zimmerman presented a memorandum to the board and school administrators that the union is terminating the practice of allowing district administrators to assign WPESSA bargaining unit members as classroom substitute teachers.
“In the past, we have not grieved the assignment which is outside the negotiated job descriptions, but going forward we will enforce the contract,” Zimmerman’s memo stated.
The committee of the WPSD board and representatives of the Wolf Point Education Association, which represents the teachers, also met.
Written by Jaimee Green
Integrated Solutions Consulting of Fargo, N.D., has been awarded the contract to review and update Roosevelt County’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan in collaboration with Valley, Daniels and Sheridan counties’ joint PDM Grant.
Collectively, the four counties are working together through the shared grant, with each county receiving its own personalized plan to fit its hazards-needs for mitigating natural and manmade disasters.
ISC met Feb. 10 with the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee to present them with an overview of the process set to take place over the next 18 months which will identify the key potential hazards within the county.
Once the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state approves of the plan, the county and incorporated towns will be asked to adopt it.
“It’s important for people to understand the financial significance and importance of this process. It is estimated that, for every $1 spent on mitigation planning the county does, an estimated $3 is saved during the disaster event and recovery period. More importantly, planning for these events is morally and ethically the right thing to do save lives and property and it is vital for the people of this community to be a part of that process,” said Mike Kemp, an ISC consultant.
The plan will examine the wide range of hazards that affect Roosevelt County, recent events, the probability of future occurrences and the vulnerabilities of our population. From that assessment, a plan of action to mitigate these hazards will be developed.
This process enables a community to remain resilient in times of disaster. It’s a proactive approach to dealing with what could happen in our community in terms of disaster.
“With the dangers presented from the Bakken Oil, this is an excellent time to be looking at our current plan and improve upon it. As an example, people may not realize that a derailed oil tanker has the potential to require a half-mile isolation area. That would mean evacuating our entire town. Those are the potential realities we need to be looking at in this plan,” said Dan Sietsema, Roosevelt County Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator.
Using a “Whole Community Approach,” the four-phased planning process will first look at the community’s profile and makeup. In phase two, potential hazards will be identified and, in the third phase, a formula will be used to identify the top threats to the area that need to be focused on. The final phase will consist of identifying and implementing changes that may mitigate or lessen the potential devastation created by these threats.
“The goal at the end of the day is to essentially put together policies and procedures that help us manage and recover from hazards and the disasters they create,” said Kemp.
FEMA requires that PDM plans be updated every five years in order for the county to remain eligible to receive disaster mitigation funds.
The PDM grant is a matching-grant that requires the county to cover 25 percent of the cost through money, or in-kind matching. The remaining 75 percent is absorbed through FEMA.
The county’s LEPC meets at 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at rotating locations. Future public meetings will be taking place to involve the community in drafting the plan at various locations throughout the county.
For more information, contact Dan Sietsema at 653-6224.
Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point School Board held a special meeting to meet with the Montana School Boards Association, Tuesday, Feb. 17, to discuss the search for a new school superintendent.
Following 24 years as an educator and administrator for the Wolf Point School District, the last two as district superintendent, Joe Paine recently submitted his resignation to become a principal in Grenora, N.D. Paine’s final day is June 15.
The district is attempting to expedite the process with a new superintendent in place July 1.
“I just don’t want to wait and lose out on any quality candidates by waiting,” board chairman Martin DeWitt said.
The Board met via video conference with Kerri Langoni of the MTSBA.
The same advertisement used when Paine was hired two years ago will be used with the inclusion of a description of the community and its amenities. It will be posted online Thursday, Feb. 19.
The application period, with electronic applications, will close March 12. The board will hold a candidate screening meeting Thursday, March 19. Interviews will be about two weeks later.
The salary range will be $80,000-$90,000 annually, depending on experience, with full family medical benefits and other benefits. Paine is receiving $81,600.
DeWitt said the district is paying the MTSBA $5,500 for the search and screening process and paid $5,000 for the same services two years ago. Additionally, the district pays the MTSBA nearly $10,000 for annual dues and has paid additional funds for legal issues. The total amount spent to the
MTSBA over the last five years was not available.
Written by John Plestina
One of the three Wolf Point men the state has an alleged marijuana growing and distribution case against pleaded guilty in 15th District Court Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Dustin Wayne Kinzie, 20, withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
District Judge David Cybulski ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and allowed Kinzie’s bond to be reinstated. He had been free on bond, but was returned to jail for violating bail conditions.
Roosevelt County Attorney’s criminal investigator Tiara Erwin said Kinzie admitted to drug use while free on bond.
Kinzie admitted in court that he had more than 60 grams of marijuana in his possession several months ago when he was caught.
Kinzie was one of six people arrested following a joint operation by the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in county and tribal officers entering Kinzie’s residence with a search warrant Tuesday, Oct. 14.
The officers found five marijuana plants, grow equipment, about one half pound of marijuana packaged in one-ounce baggies in a backpack, two ounces of marijuana in a black air vault, several pipes and bongs, several digital scales, small unopened jeweler’s bags that are commonly used to package drugs, marijuana seeds, paraphernalia, a .25 caliber pistol, an empty box and receipt for a Mossberg pump shotgun, $783 in cash and marijuana growing equipment, according to the charging documents.
Felony state charges were also filed against Dougal McMorris, 19, and Pryce Paulson, 20, both of Wolf Point. Kinzie, McMorris and Paulson were arraigned in 15th District Court Wednesday, Nov. 12.
Kinzie’s house is on the 400 block of Custer Street, across from Southside Elementary School.
Assistant Roosevelt County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said in November that Montana law allows for a separate felony charge for dealing drugs near a school. So far, additional charges have not been filed.
Criminal possession with intent to sell, gun complicity with a drug crime, felony child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia charges were filed in Fort Peck Tribal Court in the same case against Arlyn “A.J.” Headdress Jr., Tyler Nygaard, and Nevaeh Yellowrobe, all of Wolf Point.
So far, no federal charges have been filed against anyone charged in the case.
The charges against Kinzie were amended. He pleaded not guilty in November to criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal endangerment.
At that time, McMorris pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Paulson pleaded not guilty to felony criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs.
So far, McMorris and Paulson have not entered into plea agreements.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners authorized the hiring of a legislative lobbyist in Helena at a cost of $12,000 to push for approval of bills that could have financial impacts locally Tuesday, Feb. 17.
E.J. Redding of the Helena firm of M & B Strategies will focus on bills that could make funding available for road repairs and the new jail.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said if grant funding could be secured for part of the cost of the jail, the county would not have to bond for as much money.
“It’s think it’s a good move,” he said.
“That’s going to be money well spent,” Commissioner Allen Bowker said.
In other business, the commissioners approved the purchase of a 2005 Chevrolet 3500 extended cab flatbed truck from High Plains Motors for $13,500.
The commissioners also authorized the purchase from Acme Tools of a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle for the weed board for $18,291.