Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force came a step closer to becoming a reality with the Roosevelt County Commissioners approving a resolution that formally establishes it Tuesday, April 29.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force has held organizational meetings since December, but remains in an organizational stage. A group of people who have met in recent months are working to develop a charter, plan of operations and by-laws. Officers are expected to be elected during a meeting this week.
The group announced its needs for participation in January that included people to become active participants who represent diverse sectors of the communities in Roosevelt County. Those include parents, daycare providers, students, senior citizens and crash survivors. The group has also sought representatives of businesses that include insurance agents and bar owners. Other areas that representation has been sought from include education, clergy, health care, emergency medical services, all aspects of law enforcement including Wolf Point Police, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and probation and parole, and civic organizations that include the Elks Lodge, Lions and Optimists clubs and veterans organizations.
DUI task force coordinator Mary Vine said many of those areas are now covered by volunteers who attend monthly meetings.
“We will always welcome more members as we are still getting this started. This is just an example of the sectors that most task forces have. We may not get a person from each sector, but we are being represented by most. I am still trying to recruit some of the local businesses, but I am very limited with my time right now,” she said.
“There is a big misconception with the public as to what the DUI Task Force is all about. When the community heard that I was the coordinator and I would go out in the public, they thought I would get their plate numbers down and report to the police that they were at the bars drinking. That is not at all what we are about,” Vine said. “We are here to educate about over- serving from bartenders, getting rides instead of driving and just being responsible if you are out drinking. Simple stuff like that.”
DUI task forces across the nation are multi-faceted coalitions that invite participation from a cross-section of the communities they serve with a goal of educating the public, planning and enforcing strategies and activities to help reduce alcohol-involved traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.
County commissioner Gary Macdonald helped organize the task force. He received task force training in Helena.
He said earlier this year that the county receives half of the $200 that is collected from every person who is convicted of DUI that later gets their licenses reinstated. That funding could fund the task force.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force will meet at the Roosevelt County Community Services Building, 124 Custer St., Wednesday, May 7, at 2 p.m.
For more information about the DUI task force, contact Vine at 653-6228.
Written by John Plestina
A man who pleaded guilty to assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of a peace officer for an incident in Froid involving the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office received a deferred sentence that includes a stiff fine in 15th District Court Wednesday, April 30.
Probation and parole officer Darrin Moser, who works in Sidney, completed the pre-sentencing report on Gary Lee Gibbons of Fairview and recommended that the plea agreement be followed with additional fines. Moser also recommended chemical dependency and mental health evaluations and anger management.
Moser was cited for driving under the influence and domestic assaults in the past. One occurred in
Roosevelt County and the other in Idaho.
Judge David Cybulski upped the fine to $25,000 and length of probation to six years, with credit for more than a year served in the probation program. The fine must be paid over a five-year period.
“I don’t think prison is appropriate,” Cybulski said and added that a stiff fine might be more appropriate.
“Part of my goal is so that you start your life anew,” Cybulski said. “And, you don’t do it again.”
Cybulski cautioned Gibbons that he should be honest with his probation officer if he gets into financial difficulty and has difficulty paying his fine.
Gibbons is an oil field worker employed by Basic Energy in Williston, N.D. There were concerns about jurisdictional issues that place restrictions that could preclude Gibbons from crossing the state line and result in him losing his job.
Moser said Gibbons might be allowed.
Cybulski said he didn’t want Gibbons to lose his job.
Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point Indian Education Committee met Monday, May 5, and will meet again Thursday, May 8, to discuss federal Title VII funding after voters have decided the two school levies.
Title VII addresses American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian education.
Wolf Point voters decided two levies and two school board positions Tuesday, May 6. Results were not available by presstime, but were posted on The Herald-News web and Facebook pages.
The two questions on the ballot asked for voter approval of a one-year, $250,000 levy intended to increase the building reserve and provide funding for parking lot and gym floor repairs at the high school and a $200,000 continuous elementary general fund levy that could help keep the preschool program operating.
Superintendent Joe Paine said a much larger percentage of registered voters had returned mail-in ballots as of Monday, May 5.
During the Indian Education Committee meeting Monday, May 5, board member Neil Taylor, director of the education department of the Fort Peck Tribes, said the dropout rate needs to decrease and the graduation rate increase. He also said truancy needs to be addressed.
“Anything we can bring to the table that’s for the kids,” Taylor said. “The kids need all the support we can give them.”
One man said he was disappointed that the school district did not apply for an extension of the Graduation Matters grant.
Paine said a physician and nurses will visit the school so that each student who plans to participate in an extracurricular activity will be able to get the required physical at no cost.
The committee will meet again Thursday, May 8, at 5 p.m. in the Wolf Point High School library.
Written by Herald-News
The Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program and Roosevelt County Health Department have partnered to launch an evidence-based home-visiting program this coming summer with the Parents as Teachers program.
They are two of the partners of the Best Beginnings Community Council bringing together a group of individuals interested and committed to the development of a comprehensive, coordinated early childhood system for children from prenatal to the age of five and their families.
One of the top priorities for the group is providing resources for effective parenting.
Parents as Teachers provides family support including resource and referral, parental education and parent support groups.
The Best Beginnings Community Council’s home visitor group agreed on PAT as the evidence- based model that might best meet the varying needs in Roose-velt County. The group believes it is the best model because it provides excellent support and training, because parenting skills and child development are taught, and because different cultural values and experiences can be easily incorporated.
“The council is pleased to support the efforts of HPDP and the Health Department to provide this life-changing program,” Best Beginnings chair Keith Erickson said. “We feel that working with parents when their children are born or even before then will be most beneficial.”
For more information on Parents as Teachers or Best Beginnings, contact Donelle Buckles, Best Beginnings coordinator for the Fort Peck Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program, at 768-3052 or Michelle Barsness, Best Beginnings Coordinator for the Roosevelt County Public Health Department, at 653-6269.
Written by John Plestina
The Board of Pardons and Parole had not rendered a decision by early this week on whether to grant Barry Beach a clemency hearing. The seven-member panel reviewed Beach’s clemency application in Deer Lodge Tuesday, April 29, the first step toward possible clemency.
Attorneys for Beach, convicted in 1984 of the 1979 beating death of Kim Nees of Poplar, appeared before the board. Seventeen people testified in favor of clemency for Beach. More than 60 attended the hearing.
Attorneys Terrance Toavs, of Wolf Point, and Peter Camiel, of Seattle, Wash., argued in favor of advancing the clemency process.
Just days before the board considered Beach’s request, Gov. Steve Bullock wrote a letter to the board supporting parole.
The Herald-News requested comment from Bullock Friday, April 25. Dave Parker, director of communications for the Governor’s Office, responded that Bullock prefers to let his letter speak for itself and will not comment on the matter.
Bullock’s letter asked the board to focus on Beach’s worthiness for parole and not on whether he is guilty or innocent.
Beach was sentenced in 17th District Court in Glasgow to 100 years without the possibility of parole in May 1984.
At the time Beach, now 52, was convicted, he was 22 years old and was convicted of a crime that occurred when he was 17. Thirty years ago, young offenders convicted of homicides that occurred when they were juveniles could be sentenced to life terms without the possibility of parole and 100-year-terms that amount to lifetime incarceration. A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibits life sentences for youthful offenders who are convicted of homicides that occurred when they were juveniles.
Although Beach and others have maintained for decades that he was innocent of Nees’ murder and wrongly convicted, he is asking the board to commute his sentence so he would be eligible for parole.
The board has up to 30 days from the April 28 initial hearing to decide whether to schedule a full clemency hearing and then could schedule a hearing within 90 days of that time.