Wolf Point Herald

DUI Court Graduation

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Four people graduated from the Fort Peck Tribal Court DUI Court 12-month alternative sentencing diversion program and one from the Tribal Court’s Wellness Court, Friday, Nov. 21. Pictured are (listed alphabetically) DUI Court graduates Dorothy Day, Patricia Falls Down, Jason Hamilton and Norman Owens, and Wellness Court graduate Shai-Lee Weeks holding her son, Kayto McKenzie, 1. Also pictured are public defender Rena Belton, Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center staff member Donna Black Dog, prosecutor Andrea Brown, probation officer Courage Crawford, DUI Court coordinator Sidney Gourneau, Judge Danna Runs Above and IHS employee Cheryl Shanks. DUI Court is a multi-phased alternative sentencing program for DUI offenders that 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. Wellness Court is a similar program addressing family and sobriety issues and is tied to family court.   (Photos by John Plestina)

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Modular Construction Considered As Way To Trim Wolf Point Village Construction Costs

A shift to less expensive modular construction was discussed as a possible solution to high construction bids for the 24-unit Wolf Point Village rental complex, during a Wolf Point City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Great Northern Development Corporation housing specialist and marketing officer Brianna Vine told the council everything is on hold for the winter but the project will hopefully move forward.
Two rounds of construction bidding during the summer and fall produced high bids that put the project over budget.
“There is a one-year window to get the complex built,” Vine said.
“As you know, winter is upon us, so there is no construction until spring,” she said.
Vine said a shift to factory- built modular components would cut some costs and would speed up the length of the construction period.
“We’re in the process of seeing if that will fit in our budget,” she said.
If not, a third round of bidding might become necessary, Vine said.
The cost of stick built construction is estimated at $120 per square foot and $110 for modular. While the savings would he about $10 per square foot, the project would be about 24,000 square feet.
“The question is, are you, the council, interested in going to modular construction?” asked Mayor Chris Dschaak.
He said there is a question of whether the architect would be willing to change the plans for modular construction.
“We don’t know exactly what the changes would entail,” Dschaak said.
The city is acting in a pass-through capacity with the project as the city received a $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce early this year. GNDC is the project manager for the city.
Dschaak said the developer, Jonathan Reed of Jonathan Reed & Associates of Colorado, Springs, Colo., has twice asked the council to reevaluate and possibly waive $80,000 for grant administration costs.
Dschaak said in September that the city has already put money into the project and should not waive the $80,000.
“The $80,000 is not going to make or break this project,” Dschaak said.
Dschaak said Thursday, Nov. 20, that under the HOME grant, the city would manage four low income units, but the city doesn’t have any way to manage it so that responsibility would be with the onsite property manager. The city would be responsible to ensure that the paperwork is done correctly.
“On the city’s end, it’s going to cost us money every year for 20 years,” Dschaak said.
”It doesn’t benefit us financially to throw away the taxpayers’ money,” he said.
The city has money invested with engineering costs and has waived water and sewer hook-up fees, at a loss to the city between $10,000 and $15,000.
Dschaak said the $750,000 HOME grant would not be a loss if Wolf Point Village is not built.
“We won’t lose that HOME grant. The state has assured us that they are going to work with us to make sure that we are going to get to spend that money. We have until 2017 to spend that money,” Dschaak said.
Plans are to build four one-
bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units on the north side of town, within walking distance of Borge Park, swimming pool, Northside Elementary School and the Northeast Montana Health Service - Wolf Point Campus.
The complex would be targeted to families with incomes between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income. A family of four with a household income between $23,240 and $38,860 would qualify for these apartments. Rent will range from $354 to $767 monthly.
The apartments will include energy efficient air conditioning, heating and appliances and single-car garages. The complex will include common area with barbecue, gazebo, computer learning center and library.

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City Of Wolf Point Might Be Sitting On Some Money

Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council Tuesday, Nov. 18, that the city could apply for a federal Community Development Block Grant up to $450,000 and that the city could redirect the $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce the city received early this year for the Wolf Point Village rental complex if that project is not built.
Dschaak said the city could apply for the CDBG grant for projects that could benefit the community. The timeline has passed to obtain CDBG funding for the Wolf Point Village project.
The city is acting in a pass-through capacity with the HOME grant for the still proposed 24-unit Wolf Point Village project with Great Northern Development Corporation as the project manager for the city.
Two rounds of construction bidding during the summer and fall have produced high bids that could have pushed the cost of the project above the developer’s budget. There are current attempts to reduce costs.
“We won’t lose that HOME grant. The state has assured us that they are going to work with us to make sure that we are going to get to spend that money. We have until 2017 to spend that money,” Dschaak said.
Financial needs that the city has include downtown sewer replacement and likely repaving on Main Street at the same time.
The council was told Monday, Oct. 20, that the aging clay sewer main along Main Street through the downtown area is broken in places and could collapse if not replaced soon.
Main Street has not been repaved for more than 20 years and the city has talked to the Montana Department of Transportation about the need. The impacted street is part of Montana Hwy. 25.
The city has recently video taped the inside of the sewer main and will have an engineer look at it.

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ALCO Stores Across Country Begin Going-Out-Of-Business Sales


The going-out-of-business sign on the Wolf Point ALCO was visible from U.S. Hwy. 2, Friday, Nov. 21.  (Photo by John Plestina)

Just under six weeks after it’s parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Wolf Point ALCO store and all 198 ALCOs in 23 states across the nation began a going-out-of-business sale, Friday, Nov. 21.
The Coppell, Texas-headquartered ALCO Stores, Inc., announced its chain-wide liquidation sale, Thursday, Nov. 20.
ALCO Stores Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 12.
The court approved the liquidation sale last week of more than $260 million of inventory and fixtures.
Shortly after that, The Wall Street Journal reported that ALCO had plans to liquidate or sell the retail chain and that ALCO officials have approached potential buyers for the chain.
The international news service Reuters reported that ALCO is hoping to sell better-performing stores while liquidating others. The Wolf Point ALCO is reported to be one of the better-performing stores.
ALCO operates 198 discount, general merchandise stores in 23 states, mostly in the Midwest and a few stores in Florida and Georgia. There are three ALCOs in Montana, besides the Wolf Point location, in Cut Bank, Dillon and Sidney. The next nearest location is Watford City, N.D. There are about 3,000 employees nationwide. The company operates a distribution center in Abilene, Kan.
ALCO began in 1901 as Duckwall, a chain of five and dime stores in Kansas. The company expanded into discount retail when it founded the ALCO chain 46 years ago. In 1989, the company known as Duckwall-ALCO filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and emerged with new financing two years later.
The company closed the last 44 Duckworth five and dime stores in 2010.
ALCO Stores, Inc., reported assets of about $222 million and debts of about $162 million. A substantial amount of the debt is owed to Wells Fargo Bank. ALCO’s debt includes over $415 million in capital leases and about $2 million in monthly rent.
There are unconfirmed reports of at least three major retail chains that have at least made inquiries about the 25,000-square-foot ALCO building in Wolf Point.

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Gysler Fire Cleanup On Hold Until Spring Or Warmer Weather

The early blast of winter that brought snow and sub-zero temperatures to Wolf Point during the first half of November has temporarily halted the environmental cleanup of the burned-out former Gysler Furniture and Appliance site on Anaconda Street and Second Avenue South.
Workers from Safetech Inc., a Billings asbestos abatement contractor, began work at the site during late October and had completed a substantial portion of the cleanup when weather forced them to stop.
Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council, Tuesday, Nov. 18, that the project is on hold until spring or sooner if there is a substantial warm up.
With the winter standstill, the alley on the 100 block between Anaconda and Benton streets has been opened to traffic.
“The city is not going to pay for any part of this project,” Dschaak said and added that the council had made that promise to the citizens of Wolf Point.
The city now owns the two adjacent lots and hopes to resell the property for a new commercial development, possibly in 2015.
City officials have been working with Great Northern Development Corporation and environmental consultant Newfields of Missoula to clean up the site and redevelop it.
The site is a designated Brownfield site where expansion, redevelopment or reuse of the property might be complicated by the presence of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. The designation would make the city eligible for funding through a revolving loan fund and/or federal grant funding for remediation and clean-up of the site.
A fast-moving fire on March 10 destroyed the two adjacent Gysler buildings, leaving portions of block walls and other charred remains, some of which contain asbestos.
While the buildings dated to the early 1900s, remodeling of both structures during the 1960s included roofing and flooring materials made of asbestos, which the fire this year rendered as “friable asbestos,” which is any building material containing more than 1 percent asbestos that could be pulverized or powdered by hand pressure, including asbestos that is damaged by fire. Asbestos in that condition is subject to federal regulation.

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