Written by Herald-News
Each year, The Herald-News interviews and introduces teachers new to Wolf Point’s schools. This week, we feature new staff at Northside Elementary School. Southside Elementary School did not have any new staff members this year.
Two new teachers have joined the staff at Northside Elementary School for the 2014-2015 school year. They are sixth-grade teacher Jana Elliott and fifth- grade teacher William MacDonald.
Elliott, who made a career change to education a few years ago, comes to Wolf Point after teaching in Colorado three years.
She has worked with the People to People Student Ambassador Program that arranges student group travel. She visited Europe, Australia and New Zealand with student groups before relocating to Wolf Point with her husband, Ken.
“We’re excited to be here,” Elliott said.
First-year teacher MacDonald was raised in Wolf Point and went to high school in Brockton, where he played basketball. He returned to Wolf Point this year after graduating from Salish Kootenai College, a tribal college in Pablo on the Flathead Reservation about 60 miles north of Missoula.
He offered a quote from Sitting Bull, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”
Written by Herald-News
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has selected the Fort Peck Tribes as one of just four entities in the nation and the only one in Montana for an environmental assessment to receive bison.
FWP chose four proposals for the environmental assessment.
The tribes have requested 130 bison to augment an existing herd.
FWP is seeking public comment on the draft environmental assessment proposing the relocation of brucellosis-free bison to create or augment existing wild bison herds.
The wild bison were part of the Bison Quarantine Feasibility Study, a research project that began in 2004 directed by FWP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The research was conducted at a facility near Corwin Springs, north of Yellowstone National Park, to determine if quarantine was a feasible method to produce wild bison free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause some pregnant bison, elk and domestic cattle to abort their first calf. Bison in the program have been repeatedly tested over the course of their quarantine and are brucellosis-free. Results of the QFS were published recently in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association.
In March, state wildlife officials requested proposals from agencies or organizations capable of permanently caring for bison for conservation purposes. The bison have been held at the Green Ranch, west of Bozeman, during their five-year monitoring period.
A group of state and federal scientists with technical expertise in bison health, genetics and management evaluated 10 proposals and determined five would fit the overarching goal of the bison study to use verified disease-free bison for conservation purposes. After further examination, FWP chose the four proposals for the environmental assessment.
In addition to the Fort Peck Tribes request for 130 bison, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has requested 30 bison to expand existing herds at Henry Mountain and Book Cliffs. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma requested 35 bison to establish a herd on tribal lands in northeast Oklahoma and the Wildlife Conservation Society Zoo Consortium requested 30 bison to be shared between the Bronx Zoo and Queens Zoo in New York and the Wilds Conservation Park in Ohio.
The animals would be used to further the conservation and genetic diversity of the species.
While a fifth proposal from the American Prairie Reserve demonstrated strong qualifications for managing bison for conservation purposes, officials said that request wasn’t included in this environmental assessment because a statewide bison conservation strategy environmental impact statement for bison in Montana hasn’t been completed.
American Prairie Reserve could, however, be considered for future bison relocations to its private lands south of Malta pending the results of a statewide bison environmental impact study.
For more information, or to comment online, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov and click on recent public notices. The draft environmental assessment will be available for public comment through Thursday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. Comments can be mailed to: Bison QFS EA; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved several changes for the sheriff’s office Monday, Oct. 6.
The changes included an agreement for the Fort Peck Tribes to provide animal control services throughout much of the county.
Tribal animal control would be certified to provide services off the reservation, including in the Culbertson, Bainville and Froid areas. The agreement allows Sheriff Jason Frederick to deputize tribal animal control officers to work in non-reservation areas in the eastern part of the county.
The agreement includes tribal animal control services for the Roosevelt County Health Department.
Other approved changes for the sheriff’s office included the promotion of Corey Reum to chief deputy and several other promotions and new hires. Reum will work under Frederick and undersheriff John Summers.
In other business, the commissioners approved an easement allowing Oasis Petroleum to bore water, gas, oil and communication lines under Montana Secondary Hwy. 327.
Commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said Oasis is aware that the Montana Department of Transportation plans construction to realign and repair Hwy. 327 with expected completion in 2017.
The commissioners also approved a request by ONEOK, Inc., a Tulsa, Okla., based natural gas company, to bore gas lines under County Road 1018, also near Bainville.
In another matter, the commissioners signed an agreement with the Fort Peck Tribes for shared use of the Jim Shanley Public Library in Poplar.
Written by John Plestina
Forty-six years on the job, Dave Wemmer has officially retired from Columbia Grain Inc., the current operator of the grain elevator in Wolf Point, but the longtime familiar face at the elevator remains part-time.
Wemmer began working for Peavey Company in Miles City in 1968, when he was just 19 years old. After starting in the feed plant and holding nearly every position at the Miles City elevator, he worked his way up to sales representative, a position he held for 3½ years. Not liking working on commission and having to take a weekly draw to live on that he would have to repay, Wemmer transferred to Wolf Point in 1979 to become assistant manager. Two years later, he advanced to manager of the Wolf Point facility, a position he held 33 years until Sept. 19.
Does he regret retiring four years short of 50 consecutive years of employment?
“No, I’m going to enjoy it,” Wemmer said.
He said the grain dust was bothering him and he had developed an allergy to it, so he decided, at age 65, it was time to retire.
The job also required him to be outdoors for long periods.
“I just decided I don’t want to spend another winter outside,” Wemmer said.
He said he wants to travel with his wife and will continue to live in Wolf Point.
“I like gardening. I like having a real nice garden,” Wemmer said.
“I’ve had a great life. I’ve worked with a lot of great people,” he said.
Wemmer currently works half days answering phones and visiting with customers, at least for now, having passed the torch to Charles Redfield, who has become manager after working under Wemmer for 17 years at the elevator.
“He’s a hard working guy and he’ll take care of the customers,” Wemmer said.
“It was a good time for me to retire because they’re all computerized and I can’t do computers,” Wemmer said. “I’m still a country kid as far as computers go.”
The downside of his career came while dumping a truck load of grain in 1991. A loose truck ran over Wemmer, breaking both legs and crushing one.
He wanted to return to work with crutches as soon as he could.
There were many pluses d7uring this time.
“We made records with this elevator that nobody has ever done before,” Wemmer said.
Raised on a ranch in Garfield County, Wemmer moved to Miles City when he started high school and remained there until he moved to Wolf Point when he was about 30 years old.
After graduating from high school, he went to work nearly full-time at the Miles City elevator while going to college.
“It was a great job because I could get all the hours I needed,” Wemmer said.
Over the years, Wemmer turned down numerous offers from other elevator operators.
“I’m one of those guys who is loyal to the company,” he said. “To me, it didn’t seem right [to accept an offer].”
While Wemmer has not changed employers for 46 years, he has worked for several corporate bosses and seen many changes in the business.
F.H. Peavey & Company was founded in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1874; became Peavey Company in 1962; was acquired by ConAgra Foods, Inc., in 1982; acquired by Gavilon Grain in 2008; and by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation in 2013.
Written by John Plestina
DUI Court Graduation -- Fort Peck Tribal Court Judge Danna Runs Above presents a certificate of DUI Court graduation to Loyd Lambert of Poplar. (Photo by John Plestina)
The Fort Peck Tribal Court DUI Court 12-month alternative sentencing diversion program held a graduation Thursday, Oct. 2.
DUI Court uses a premise that most repeat drunk driving offenders are alcoholic and need treatment and support that might include 12-step recovery meetings. The program keeps offenders out of jail as long as they comply with the requirements of DUI Court.
Completion of the program, which includes more than one year of continuous sobriety, can expunge felony DUI convictions from a person’s record.
The Fort Peck Tribal Court DUI Court is a multi-phased alternative sentencing program for felony drunk driving offenders, which includes monitored sobriety and required classes at Spotted Bull Recovery Center. Failure to comply with the requirements result in sanctions that could include jail.
“It’s a 12-month program, but they have to reach all of the goals,” Fort Peck Tribes probation officer Courage Crawford said.
Judge Danna Runs Above presides over DUI Court. Each person in the program approaches the bench separately when their name is called. Runs Above asks them questions, including what phase of the program they are in and how their week went. If a participant did not do everything he or she was supposed to, an explanation is necessary. Excuses are only accepted if they are for legitimate reasons. An example is one man told Runs Above he has no daycare for his children and his wife works.
“How are you today?” Runs Above asked another man.
“I’m alive,” he said.
“We’re all alive,” Runs Above said, and asked him more questions.
Loyd Lambert of Poplar graduated with 13 months in the program.
Several people congratulated Lambert for completing the program and for his sobriety. Several, including an aunt, told him they were proud of him. Some told Lambert he has changed in a positive way.
With Lambert graduating, nine currently remain in the program. Six are from Poplar and three from Wolf Point.
Four graduations are anticipated in November.
The court places new people in DUI Court as necessary.
So far, the Fort Peck Tribal Court is the only court in Roosevelt County that has embraced the DUI Court program and orders participants to attend 12-step recovery meetings or other programs with a requirement for attendance verification signatures.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force has had several discussions since May about the possibility of 15th District Court and both justices of the peace [Wolf Point and Culbertson] participating in a DUI Court program.
Crawford said if 15th District Court and the justice courts in Wolf Point and Culbertson establish DUI Court, services for clients who are not tribal members would be available through Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center in Poplar.
Crawford said it could easily be done and state courts would retain jurisdiction over non-tribal members.
Court administrator Rita Weeks said grant funding is available for a joint tribal/state DUI Court.
Seventh District Court which includes Dawson, McCone, Prairie, Richland and Wibaux counties uses the DUI Court program.
The nationwide DUI Court Program, modeled after the Drug Court program, has been in existence since the 1990s. Drug Court was first established in Miami-Dade County, Fla., in 1989. Today, Drug Court is used in many locations across the nation and there are hybrid DUI/Drug Court programs in use in several judicial districts in Montana.