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.
Written by Herald-News
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.
Written by John Plestina
A hunter from Minneapolis, Minn., encountered caring people from Wolf Point when he ran into misfortune twice during a recent duck hunting trip.
Peter Beck has frequently hunted and fished in Montana for about 20 years and has come to Wolf Point for more than a decade, renting a hunting cabin along the Missouri River near Oswego from the Fort Peck Tribes.
During a pheasant and waterfowl hunting trip in October, two unrelated events at first appeared to create major hurdles for Beck.
Two local men made those mountains into molehills.
Beck said generous help way beyond the call of duty from Northern Prairie Auto Sales service manager Baron Wiens and Bill Rusche at Nemont Communications reminded him why he loves Montana.
The 67-year-old Twin Cities commercial photographer had driven his
Subaru Outback to Wolf Point. Multiple flashing warning lights came on while Beck was navigating a remote two-track trail.
“As I had just ventured onto a fairly rugged two-track, I thought I may have damaged parts of the car’s undercarriage. I quickly found that the brakes seemed to be functioning normally, despite the flashing indicator, though the cruise control was clearly not working. I checked the oil level and it was normal but the check engine light would not go off,” Beck said.
Subaru is a make of car with no local dealership for service.
“I drove slowly back to Wolf Point and drove into Northern Prairie’s lot. Baron explained he was not a Subaru dealer and that there likely wasn’t one closer than Billings. He asked me to bring the car in the next day and he’d have a look at it to assess what might be wrong. I followed through with that offer of help. I returned to the dealership later the following day and Baron handed me the keys and said everything seemed to be working fine again. He said he disconnected the electrical system and allowed it to reset itself. Everything did indeed work perfectly again,” Beck said. “When I asked what I owed him, he said, ‘No charge, happy to be able to help.’”
Beck said he thanked Wiens and told everyone he ran into how grateful he was for his help.
“You just always have to help people that are in need. You just do your best to help anybody you can,” Wiens said.
Beck’s challenges were not over. A few days later, he realized he did not have his iPhone; that he had dropped it in a field while pheasant hunting.
“It was noon when I discovered the absent phone. I had roamed over four different fields that morning,” he said.
The next day he contacted Nemont in Wolf Point to find out if the local cooperative could replace his i-
“I had the very good fortune of talking with Bill Rusche, a customer service manager for Nemont in Wolf Point. I explained my predicament,” Beck said.
Beck went into the Wolf Point Nemont office on Benton Street. Customer service representative Courtney Berglee was helping him. Rusche heard the conversation and asked Beck if he had the ‘Find My Phone’ application on his iPhone. He did.
Beck had hoped Nemont could replace his lost i-
Phone, but with his service from Minnesota being with AT&T, Nemont could not replace it, but finding the missing phone was doable for Rusche.
“Bill patiently used one of his computers to triangulate the specific place I had dropped my phone the day before. Remarkably, he knew the field, as his family had once owned the 40-acre parcel. Bill gave me a small printout, using Google Earth, of the phone’s position. He encouraged me to return to the field and patiently search carefully in a 100-foot area around the indicated spot,” Beck said. “He said he would try to get the phone to emit an audible chirp to help me find it.”
Rusche located the signal for the missing phone and knew it was in a field near Oswego.
Beck searched about 45 minutes in windy weather with environmental noises distracting him. He finally heard faint beeps.
“I saw nothing but got down on all fours and literally put my ears close to the ground. Again, I saw nothing but could hear the beeps now a bit louder. I used my fingers for a few minutes to move leaf and grass cover and was truly astonished and delighted to unearth my iPhone. It was in perfect condition,” Beck said.
He called Rusche who told him he was happy to have been able to help.
“He was pretty happy. He wanted to compensate us. I said, ‘No,’” Rusche said.
He explained that going the extra mile to help was something he and Berglee wanted to do.
“These two experiences have given me additional reasons to remember why I love to return to Wolf Point each fall; a remarkable community set in a very beautiful part of Montana. When the subject of visiting Montana arises, you can be assured I’ll be recalling these experiences,” Beck said.
Written by Herald-News
A new food pantry will soon open in the former Boys and Girls Club building on Main Street at Fifth Avenue South. It will fill a void in Wolf Point, as the nearest food pantry currently operating is in Culbertson.
Opening during mid- or late-December is hoped for.
The steering committee for the food pantry envisions people come into a waiting room, registering on a computer to verify qualifications, and then given a grocery list in which they go around the shelves and put their own groceries into a cart. The atmosphere would be that of a friendly grocery store. People would be treated with respect and a helping hand. The Food Pantry would be open five days per week and would serve all surrounding communities.
Volunteering would be an opportunity for all religious congregations, service groups, local businesses and local citizens of all walks of life and ethnicities to join hands and help the needy.
The Missoula Food Bank was used as an example with about 500 volunteers that include high school and college students, working people and retirees. No volunteer would be committed to long periods, maybe one shift a week or month.
The steering committee plans to request time to do presentations to churches, businesses and service organizations. Commitments will be sought from schools, churches and local businesses.
Help needed includes long-term volunteers to do intakes on a computer, stocking shelves, scheduling volunteers and repacking items that could weigh as much as 50 pounds. There is also a need for short-term volunteers to paint, clean and move heavy objects.
The food pantry also needs board members. There would not be a large time commitment, possibly two meetings per month. Most communication would be by email.
Donations of equipment are needed including metal shelving, glass door refrigeration and freezer units, grocery carts, stainless steel tables and sinks. The food pantry is also in need of a battery-operated fork lift or pallet mover.
Other items sought include two flexible exercise machines, three weight resistance systems, two portable basketball backboards, pool table, miscellaneous sports equipment, tumbling mats,
Questions or offers of donations should be directed to Rose Neumiller Green at 650.5667. The steering committee welcomes all comments and suggestions.
Written by John Plestina
A Wolf Point woman accused of violating court-imposed conditions of a deferred imposition of sentence was freed without bail from the Roosevelt County Jail, Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Fifteenth District Court Judge David Cybulski released Kristy L. Daugherty, 29, on her own recognizance. Reasons cited were that Daugherty is a lifelong resident of Wolf Point and would live with her mother.
Daugherty entered general denials of alleged probation violations on her lawyer’s advice. Daugherty will appear for another hearing Wednesday, Nov. 12.
When she was released, Daugherty had been lodged in the jail nine days since Wolf Point Police arrested her on a warrant after conducting a traffic stop on the 200 block of Anaconda Street, Monday, Oct. 20.
Daugherty previously appeared before Cybulski
in May on a petition to revoke probation. At that time, he reinstated six- and four-year deferred imposition of sentences to run concurrently with no credit for time served between Sept. 29, 2010, and Feb. 5, 2013, mandated immediate entry into substance abuse treatment and follow through with all probation conditions.
Daugherty was charged March 31, 2010, with criminal possession of precursors to dangerous drugs, operating an unlawful clandestine laboratory and endangering the welfare of children, all felonies.
Probation and Parole officer Pam Heikens of Glasgow alleged in an affidavit that Daugherty failed to contact her when she was released from jail following her revocation hearing in May, did not provide a current address or telephone number, did not pay fines and fees, missed appointments and was late arriving for an appointment.
Heikens recommendations in the affidavit included that if found by the court to be in violation of the deferred sentences, Daugherty’s sentences should be revoked and she be sentenced to the Montana Department of Corrections for an unspecified period. Heikens concluded by writing that Daugherty needs more structure than is available in the community.