Wolf Point Herald

Column: From The Editor's Desk -- Ghosts Of Christmas Past

“Jingle Bells, Santa Smells, Rudolph Ran Away ...” or something like that were lyrics my then 7-year-old daughter sang as she walked into my mother’s house in Prescott, Ariz., during the holiday season some 22 years ago. I thought it was funny; my mom didn’t. A very traditional woman from an earlier generation, my mother was shocked that her granddaughter would sing that rendition [popular with children at the time] to her in her home.
I sometimes think about that this time of the year.
Now, my mother is no longer with us and my daughter is all grown up. Her oldest child is the age she was then.
Sometimes, I just want to reflect on my ghosts of Christmases past.
During the early 1990s, I was a reporter and columnist at the Prescott Daily Courier in Prescott, Ariz. During the same week my daughter serenaded my mother with “Jingle Bells, Santa Smells ...” and with Christmas 1992 about a week away, I wrote my [joke] self-serving Dear Santa letter in my column.
Of course, my letter asked Santa to bring me a 4x4 truck, a boat and included other selfish requests. It got a lot of laughs and humorous comments. My wife [at the time] had her own idea how she was going to get me for that. Under the tree, the two nicest wrapped presents with my name on them were from her. She gave me the 4x4 truck and boat I had asked for. I didn’t expect a battery-powered toy truck that could race across the living room floor and the entire bathtub fleet.
Did she succeed in humbling me? Maybe, sort of.
As a parent, I never “terrorized” my daughter with threats of putting her on Santa’s “bad little girl list,” even though I had grown up intimidated by the “bad little boy list” that I always believed would garner me nothing more than a lump of coal from Santa. I was well-deserving of a spot on that undesirable list many times.
At seven, my daughter asked me for 100 of the ugly troll dolls every little girl was asking for in 1992. I gave her 50.
When I was a child, the adults in my family always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. They would put a few presents beneath the tree from them to me, but not to be opened until I found my presents from Santa Christmas morning. I was, however, a nosy little bugger. I used to carefully undo enough tape to pull back just a little wrapping paper without tearing it so I could see what I was getting and then restored the presents to the way they had been; always while my dad was at work and my mom was indisposed in the bathroom or kitchen. Of course, I always pretended to be surprised when I opened those gifts.
Some Christmas mornings, there was a footprint in the fireplace. I never thought at the time that it matched the shoes my dad wore Christmas Eve.
All that said, the Christmas season starts Friday, Dec. 5, in Wolf Point with the first “Get Lit In Wolf Point, Festival Of Lights And Stroll. It replaces the Parade of Lights that was held for years. The NEMHS Charitable Foundation Festival of Trees will also be Friday, as part of the holiday kickoff.
Now that I’m all grown up and then some, do I care if I get what I want for Christmas? Absolutely not. Dec. 25 is not my birthday. Let’s not forget whose it is.

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Highway 2 Association Discusses Needed Highways For Trade With Canada

Shoring up economic relationships between Roosevelt County and Canadian neighbors was stressed during several recent meetings.
Highway 2 Association president Bob Sivertsen of Havre said the oil-rich region is booming both in northeastern Montana and across the border.
Several people told Montana Department of Transportation director Mike Tooley that a four-lane divided U.S. Hwy. 2 is needed for safety and economic development during the Highway 2 Association’s annual fall meeting in Glasgow Oct. 17.
Tooley, from Havre and a former Montana Highway Patrol trooper who was stationed at Wolf Point, said funding is just not in place at the current time.
“[MDT] does place a high emphasis on the Highway 2 Corridor,” Tooley said. But, “as everybody knows, highway funding is up in the air.”
“[Sivertsen] came to visit about our relationship with the Canadian trade and how this is a booming area even up in Canada,” Culbertson Mayor Gordon Oelkers said at a Culbertson City Council meeting Dec. 1.
He said Sivertsen is doing a good job of keeping people informed about efforts to improve infrastructure and with the economic aspects.
Since its inception in 2001, the Highway 2 Association has been a strong proponent of the “4 For 2” campaign to build a four-lane U.S. Hwy. 2 across the 666 miles that crosses Montana, for an adequate transportation system along the Hi-Line with safety, tourism, agriculture and the enhancement of energy and other economic development cited as reasons for the need.
Needs that have been cited for a four-lane highway included increased heavy truck traffic due to Bakken oilfield development in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, including Roosevelt County.
Cost to build a four-lane Hwy. 2 across the length of Montana is not funded.
The federal government funds 87 cents on each highway dollar.
House Bill 218, a bipartisan bill passed both houses of the Montana Legislature last year and was vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock would have required the Board of Oil and Gas to administer an infrastructure grant program for oil and gas impacts and would have set up a $15 million annual fund to help local governments impacted by oil and gas development.
“[Bullock] is still interested in infrastructure in eastern Montana,” Tooley said during the meeting in Glasgow.
There was a discussion about supporting a new $90 million version of HB 218 during the Great Northern Development Corp., quarterly meeting Oct. 9.
More than one-quarter of Hwy. 2 is in Montana. The route dates to 1926 and spans 2,571 miles across the northern continental United States in two segments, one between Washington and Michigan, and the other from New York state and ending in Maine.
Sivertsen said during the Highway 2 Association’s annual fall meeting in Glasgow that there has been a study that would include a four-lane highway from the Montana/North Dakota state line to Culbertson and north along the current Montana Hwy. 16 to the Port of Raymond at the Canadian border.
The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway is a proposed four-lane route that would enhance business and tourism in several plains states. It would be comprised of several existing highways between Texas/Mexico border and the Port of Raymond, passing through Bainville and Culbertson.
The MDT’s Bainville-East project, four-lane beginning at Bainville and continuing to the Montana/North Dakota state line, could begin construction in 2017.
For additional information about the 4 For 2 proposal, contact the Highway 2 Association at www.hwy2mt.org.

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Plans Develop As Centennial, Stampede Half A Year Away

With Wolf Point’s centennial celebration during the 2015 Wild Horse Stampede just over a half year away, plans have been formulating during monthly meetings of the centennial committee.
The committee considered entertainment, food, street dances, pie-eating contests and more Monday, Dec. 1.
Four nights of live music and three street dances downtown are likely. The Billings-based band “Downtime” is committed to perform one or more nights.
Other plans for the celebration that have been discussed during recent months include an old-fashioned “gunfight,” use of the old bridge for a yet undetermined event, a large public feed and homemade old-fashioned ice cream.
Wolf City Rods and Rides will put on a car show and possibly a poker run during the Centennial/Stampede celebration.
Mayor Chris Dschaak said the former site of Gysler Furniture and Appliance on Anaconda Street could be used as a site for a car show or other event because the cleanup and leveling of the two lots should be completed well before July. The two Gysler buildings were destroyed by a fire in March.
The committee also discussed the possibility of offering early morning cleanup for pay to Wolf Point High School sports teams. The Wolves football team cleaned up the streets during the 2014 Stampede.
Period floats depicting historical scenes of Wolf Point are likely during what could be as many as three days of parades.
The committee also discussed asking Wolf Point native Kate Bryan to serve as an emcee.
The next Centennial Committee meeting will be Monday, Jan. 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Northern Development Corporation building on Cascade Street.

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MDT Urges Motorists To “Know Before You Go”

The Montana Department of Transportation is making it easier to prepare for holiday travel and winter roads with a free mobile application that provides road conditions, weather, incidents, highway closures and roadway camera images. MDT's Travel Info mobile app is available in Google play, the iTunes App Store or on Amazon.
Road conditions are reported based on first hand observations by MDT’s experienced plow drivers and are updated as conditions change. Weather and road conditions change rapidly so motorists should use caution and be prepared.
Travelers are also reminded, “Don’t Crowd the Plow.” These vehicles are large and use a lot of room to operate. Snowplows typically travel slower than posted speeds while removing snow and ice from the roads and drivers’ field of vision may be restricted. Many snowplows are rear-ended each winter so remember to slow down, stay back and be prepared for winter maintenance materials spread from the back of the truck.
To ensure a safe and happy holiday season motorists are also reminded of the following:
•Turn off cruise control in the winter.
•Expect ice or frost on bridge decks and shaded areas.
•Always have a sober driver, and always buckle up.
 Plan ahead and stay aware of current conditions when traveling. Remember to check MDT Mobile, call 511 or visit mdt511.com/ to check road and weather conditions.
Montana’s Vision Zero is moving the state toward zero deaths and zero injuries on all Montana roads through education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical response.

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Who Pays The Most Taxes?

For most, it would be easy to say, “Not me,” if asked who pays the highest taxes in their counties.
For Roosevelt County, the oil industry in the eastern part of the county pays the lion’s share. Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway, Montana-Dakota Utilities and Nemont are among the top taxpayers.
Topping the top-10 list is Northern Border Pipeline at $5,136,106, according to Roose-velt County Treasurer Betty Romo. The second through 10th largest taxpayers are: BNSF, $1,345,490; Bridger Pipeline, $498,129; MDU, $494,368; Basin Electric Power Cooperative, $403,166;  Nemont, $207,612; Hiland Operating, $204,088; ONEOK Bakken Pipeline, $195,806; United Grain Corporation of Oregon, $193,994; and Sheridan Electric Cooperative, $152,467.

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