Written by Herald-News
The Optimist Club of Wolf Point hosted a Halloween party Thursday, Oct. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church. Funded by a grant from the 15th Judicial District Youth Court, the party was free to all children in the Wolf Point area. (Submitted photo)
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Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture president Jeff Presser presents the First Dollar Award to Warren Land & Livestock owner Bethany Toews, Friday, Oct. 31. Warren Land & Livestock opened on Fourth Avenue South near Main Street in Wolf Point in February and provides farm and ranch and residential real estate appraisals. (Photo by John Plestina)
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Marguerite Gysler and Margaret Abbott are reading some of the poetry displayed at recent the ChariTEA and Trunk Show. The poems were all themed after hope, courage and strength with both the high school and college level winners reading their poems at the event.
Written by John Plestina
A public scoping meeting seeking input for an environmental assessment for a proposed 75 megawatt, 28 turbine wind farm that would be located about eight miles south of Wolf Point was held at Vida Elementary School Wednesday, Oct. 29.
The proposed Sand Creek Winds project would be a locally-owned corporation that includes 12 partner landowners in northern McCone County.
The wind farm would connect to the existing Wolf Point to Circle 115-kV transmission line that is located about 18 miles from Wolf Point.
The Western Area Power Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, which markets and delivers hydroelectric power within a 15-state region, is preparing the environmental assessment to assess potential environmental impacts.
The Louis Berger Group, a Morristown, N.J.,-headquartered
architectural and engineering design firm, is working with the Sand Creek Winds partners.
“If there are no significant findings, Sand Creek Winds would be free to build their farm,” Derrick Rosenbach, a Denver, Colo.,-based environmental scientist with Louis Berger, said.
He said there would be a point of interception for power lines coming from the wind farm at a substation on the west side of Montana Hwy. 13.
The partners are touting financial benefits for McCone County residents.
“There would be 664 kilowatts per year that will stay in McCone County,” Linda Twitchell, a partner in Sand Creek Winds, said.
“Law enforcement and the hospital [McCone County Health Center in Circle], all should benefit,” she said.
According to the Montana Department of Revenue, the wind farm could generate over $800,000 in property taxes annually. Eighty-three percent [$664,000] of that tax revenue would remain in McCone County.
“Right now, we are considered the developer,” Twitchell said. “Our goal is to connect to Western Area Power in September 2016.”
Rosenbach noted that a prepared timeline shows construction beginning in September 2015 with completion during the fall of 2016.
Other issues discussed included that turbines with long blades would be used for more efficiency.
Heavy equipment would need to be moved along Hwy. 13 or Hwy. 528 for construction and future maintenance. It was said that it should not be a problem for the roads and no state investment into the roads would be necessary.
A response from one of the partners to a questions from the audience of whether there are plans for expansion after the wind farm is built was that there would be no room to expand.
The partners who serve on the Sand Creek Winds board of directors are Bert and Linda Twitchell, Bill Wright, Kendall Johnson, Audrey Pipal, Shannon Vine and Cathy Hintz.
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Gov. Steve Bullock announced the adoption of new state health agency protocols, Friday, Oct. 31, for people returning to Montana from Ebola-affected regions in western Africa, or who may have come in contact with a person infected with the virus.
“These new protocols will help ensure the safety of those potentially exposed to Ebola, and the safety of Montanans as a whole,” said Bullock.
Notifications to Montana health officials comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and includes the names of all airline passengers who return to Montana from Ebola-affected regions in Africa or who have had contact with an Ebola-infected individual. Once the state is notified, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services coordinates with local public health departments to ensure all returning travelers receive daily monitoring.
Individuals who had known exposure to the virus will require direct active monitoring by public health officials, including a twice-daily review of symptoms and observation of the individual checking their temperature. Monitoring also includes discussion of plans to work, travel or go to public places and determining whether these activities are permitted.
While these protocols are the current best practices, as new information is received, the protocols will evolve to reflect a better understanding of how to most effectively treat and monitor individuals who may have been exposed.
“With national media attention on this disease, it is understandable that Montanans are concerned about the spread of Ebola,” MHA president/CEO Dick Brown said.
MHA is an association of Montana health care providers that was formerly the Montana Hospital Association.
“However, with the talented and trained public health officials and hospital staff in this state, along with Gov. Bullock’s protocols for monitoring those at highest risk, residents should rest easy knowing that Montana is taking proactive steps to prevent this virus in the state,” Brown said.
“With a disease like Ebola, it is important that the public has confidence that health officials have a rigorous plan to preventing the spread of the disease if it enters the state,” Melanie Reynolds, Lewis and Clark County health officer said. “These protocols will ensure that those at highest-risk of contracting the virus are quickly identified and if necessary, treatment is effectively administered to eliminate the risk of further infections.”
“Montana Nurses Association working with our national affiliate American Nurses Association support these protocols as they provide important guidance based on the best available scientific evidence and provide essential information to health care professionals as well as Montanans returning from affected regions,” said Vicky Byrd, executive director of the Montana Nurses Association. “These protocols provide the guidelines appropriately monitor individuals who may have been exposed to or have had direct contact with a symptomatic person diagnosed with Ebola. This guidance clarifies the appropriate limitation to travel and presence in public places based on the level of risk that individual poses to the public These protocols also take into account the rural nature of our state, and provide appropriate steps for accommodating those who live a great distance from their nearest hospital or health facility.”
In addition to the new protocols, earlier this month, Bullock put in place a command team to coordinate Ebola preparedness activities in the state. The team is led by Maj. Gen. Matt Quinn.
“I’ve tasked these experts with creating, and now maintaining, a reasonable and effective approach to Ebola preparedness in Montana. I have every confidence that this team will do everything possible to ensure Montana is prepared in the unlikely event that a case of Ebola appears in Montana,” said Bullock.
The command team has been charged with maintaining an Ebola-specific incident response plan, ensuring ongoing coordination of inter-agency and inter-governmental activities, and providing ongoing briefings to the governor and other officials on preparedness activities.