Wolf Point Herald

Roosevelt County Property Values Going Up While Statewide Decreases

Roosevelt County real estate values are going up while statewide values are going down, according to the Montana Department of Revenue.
The Department of Revenue reported following the recent reappraisal that statewide values of residential property dropped by 2.85 percent from 2008 to 2014.
The average market value of residential property increased by 55 percent during the 2008 reappraisal cycle.
The Department of Revenue also reported that residential property values grew the most in the recent reappraisal in eastern Montana. Oil and gas development was cited as the main reason.
The biggest gain was in Richland County with a 102.13 percent increase. Roosevelt and several other eastern Montana counties showed gains above 60 percent. In Roosevelt County, the gains in the Culbertson and Bainville area were considerable higher than in Wolf Point. Specific figures for Wolf Point were not available.
In contrast, residential property values in Flathead County dropped 14.84 percent, 13.2 percent in Gallatin County and 10.84 percent in Ravalli County.
Taxpayers are expected to receive their new assessment notices from the Department of Revenue in the summer of 2015.

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100 Club Month

1.1.15.100-CLUB 5283


Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak (seated) signs a proclamation that January is 100 Club membership month. The Wolf Point 100 Club has raised and given nearly $560,438 for the purchase of medical equipment for the Northeast Montana Health Services hospital, Listerud Rural Health Clinic and Faith Lutheran Home, since 1980. Standing are 100 Club members (from left to right) Irene Tjon, Shirley Zimmerman, John Carlbom, James Johnson, Irene Rathert, Catherine Wylie and Bill Rensvold. Memberships cost $100 and are good for the calendar year.  (Photo by John Plestina)

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2014 Year In Review Notable Events From 2014

Each year, as area residents hang shiny new calendars for the new year, The Herald-News reflects on the past year with our year in review.
January
Chris Dschaak became mayor Jan. 20. He was elected and succeeded Dewayne Jager, who did not seek reelection.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners appointment of Duane Nygaard as presiding officer, Jan. 2, and set commission meetings for Tuesdays at 1 p.m., beginning Jan. 7.
The county commissioners formed a committee to begin the process for a Roosevelt County DUI Task Force.
Meli Spotted Bird was the first baby born in the local area in 2014. She is the daughter of Ashley Weston and Anthony Spotted Bird of Poplar.
Haven Gourneau became acting president of Fort Peck Community College with the resignation of Florence M. Garcia. Gourneau was later appointed president.
Northeast Montana Health Services welcomed John Carlbom as Emergency Medical Services supervisor. Carlbom relocated to Wolf Point from Cut Bank.
The Frontier School Board appointed James Jerome to fill a board vacancy.
Then-Wolf Point Mayor Dewayne Jager signed a proclamation designating January 2014 as Wolf Point 100 Club Membership Month.
The Herald-News reported Jan. 23 that the Northeast Montana Health Services Charitable Foundation organized a “Giving Tree” during their annual Festival of Trees in December, 2013.
Roosevelt County native William Yellow Robe was selected for a residency program at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, Fla.
February
Then-Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford and consultant Dennis Kimme updated the county commissioners on plans for a new jail for Roosevelt County, Feb. 4.
A shake-up in the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office came Feb. 7, when Sheriff Freedom Crawford replaced undersheriff [now sheriff] Jason Frederick with John Summers.
Wolf Point began preparation for the centennial celebration, which will take place during the 2015 Wild Horse Stampede, with a meeting of about 20 people, Feb. 18. The Centennial Committee has since met monthly.
The Northeast Montana Health Services Charitable Foundation received a $5,000 check from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Foundation.
Jeremy Thomas Sepanski, 30, of Plentywood was arrested on felony charges including burglary, theft and forgery in connection with a Wolf Point burglary and jewelry theft. He spent the remainder of 2014 incarcerated in the Roosevelt County Jail and was recently sentenced to prison.
The Highway 2 Association, which is dedicated to building a four-lane U.S. Hwy. 2 across the Hi-Line updated the Wolf Point City Council Feb. 17.
The Wolf Point and Fort Peck Tribes continued talks in February about connecting the city water system to the Fort Peck Rural Water System.
Robert Lewis Burshia, 31, of Poplar was found guilty in U.S. District Court of several charges related to the stabbing of three women in Poplar in 2013.
March
A fire leveled the two Gysler Furniture and Appliance buildings in downtown Wolf Point, March 10. There were no injuries. The fire was the largest in Wolf Point in more than a decade. Gysler Furniture and Appliance employee Cody McGill saved two people from the fire.
The Wolf Point chapter of Walleyes Unlimited honored several of its own members during the organization’s 28th annual banquet at the Wolf Point Elks Club Saturday, March 15.
Walleyes Unlimited members Darla Shumway [Downs] and Art Ruhd, both of Wolf Point, and Don Lekvold of Scobey were inducted into the local chapter’s hall of fame for devoted commitment to the enhancement of warm water fishing.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, March 16.
The Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Peck Lake predicted in early March that there was a low risk of Missouri River flooding in the Wolf Point, Poplar and Culbertson areas. A repeat of the June 2011 flooding that impacted Roosevelt County communities was unlikely.
Frontier Elementary School dean of students Jeff Whitmus tendered his resignation to the school board in March, effective with the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
The Wolf Point School District’s facility committee met Tuesday, March 4, to create a list of items at each school that needed to be repaired, replaced or improved.
Northeast Montana Health Services receives a long anticipated second ambulance during March.
Culbertson city officials and Amtrak were moving forward in March with plans to build an Amtrak station in Culbertson with daily stops on the Seattle to Chicago Empire Builder route by summer 2015. Currently, there are no Amtrak stops between Wolf Point and Williston, N.D.
April
J.T. Szymanski began working as Wolf Point’s animal control officer, April 3, after several months with the position unfilled and canines having free run of Wolf Point’s streets, sidewalks, schoolyards and lawns.
The Wolf Point City Council accepted recommendations from the city’s personnel, policy and wage committee April 21, that changes the way police officers are paid with higher pay that reflects the average number of hours they work and back pay.
A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Wolf Point School District was settled with a federal judge mandating the school district to reduce the number of school board members to six, creating five districts with nearly the same number of residents and one at-large position. The school district and Roosevelt County had to pay legal fees.
The Wolf Point School board voted unanimously, April 8, to place two proposed tax levies on the May 5 ballot. They were a  $200,000 continuous elementary general fund levy that could have funded the preschool program. The other, a one-year $250,000 levy would have increased the building reserve and could have funded a new gym floor and paved the high school parking lot. Neither passed at the polls.
Western Bank of Wolf Point, through its Donor Advised Endowment Fund, donated $10,000 to Wolf Point Elks Lodge No. 1764 during early April to assist the organization with their efforts to make the building handicapped-accessible.
Sarah Hafner and Trenton Wemmer became Wolf Point High School’s prom queen and king, April 5.
The first issue of April reported a fire that destroyed the home of KVCK sports announcer Tim Zimmer.
Gov. Steve Bullock proposed a state bond proceeds-financed $45 million grant program that would address impacts from the Bakken Oilfield development on eastern Montana cities, tribal governments and water and sewer districts while in Culbertson, April 17.
Twenty-seven people who said they were arrested by Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice officers, but not charged, during the Wild Horse Stampede in July 2013, attended a fact-finding meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior Wednesday, April 16. A Bureau of Indian Affairs Internal Affairs investigator from Bismarck, N.D., interviewed each of the 27 people in private.
May
Arson was suspected in a fire that destroyed a vacant house and motorhome on Third Avenue South near Fairweather Street, Monday, April 28. The fire was reported in the May 1 issue.
The May 1 Herald-News also reported a derailment of two passenger cars on Amtrak’s Minneapolis to Portland and Seattle Empire Builder route near  Bainville, Monday, April 28. One person was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners in early May approving a resolution that formally established the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force.
Another suspicious fire destroyed an unoccupied mobile home on the corner of Fairweather and First Avenue South.
Gov. Steve Bullock wrote a letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole supporting parole for former Poplar resident Barry Beach, who was sentenced in 1984 to a 100-year sentence for the 1979 beating death of Kim Nees of Poplar. The board was considering a request by Beach’s attorney for a clemency hearing.
Haven Gourneau was named president of Fort Peck Community College. She had served as interim president since January.
Voters rejected two Wolf Point School District levies and returned two incumbent trustees to the school board in a record high voter turnout Tuesday, May 6.
A $200,000 continuous elementary general fund levy failed by two votes, 392-390. The failure of that levy left funding for the future of the district’s preschool program in jeopardy. The other levy, a $250,000 levy that would have run for one year, would have increased the building reserve and provided funding for parking lot and gym floor repairs at the high school. It failed 409-370 with voters in the city and 49-37 among Frontier School District voters.
Roosevelt County’s new DUI Task Force discussed asking 15th District Court and both Justice Court judges to establish a DUI Court sentencing diversion program Wednesday, May 7.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners voted Tuesday, May 13, to move forward with a merger of the Poplar branch of the Roosevelt County Library and the Fort Peck Community College Library.
Ken Elliott, a partner in Wolf Point Green, the company that purchased the long-shuttered Kenco Refinery site east of Wolf Point, explained his proposal to clean up the site and build a new oil refinery that would serve the Bakken Oil Field and accommodate 20,000 barrels daily. Other plans for the site include a wind farm and solar and geothermal energy production. Long-range plans include greenhouses heated with energy produced within the site and a commercial fish farm.
After nearly three years of legal wrangling, a lawsuit brought against the Wolf Point School District by former superintendent Henry Hamill was dismissed with prejudice in 15th District Court Monday, March 10. The dismissal was a final judgment and prevents Hamill from filing another case on the same claim. It was settled on a disputed basis with admissions of liability by either side. Hamill’s attorney told The Herald-News that Hamill had received $175,000 from the school district since 2011.
Fort Peck Community College graduated 46 students Saturday, May 17, at 11 a.m., in the Wolf Point High School gymnasium.
Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was the first Republican to visit the Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board in many years Friday, May 16.
A U.S. District Court judge ordered Roosevelt County and the Wolf Point High School District to pay $68,793 each to the American Civil Liberties Union for court fees and costs in the settlement of the lawsuit that redistricts the board of school trustees. It stems from a consent decree approved by a federal magistrate in April, after the ACLU filed a motion for summary judgment that mandates the Wolf Point High School District to reduce the number of school board members to six, creating five districts with nearly the same number of residents and one at large position. It came about as a result of a lawsuit the ACLU filed in August 2013 on grounds that voting districts used to elect trustees were apportioned in violation of one person, one vote.
Nearly 1,000 people attended a Memorial Day service with several military and civilian speakers in the Fort Peck Theater followed by the dedication of the future site of the Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial, Monday, May 26. The memorial, slated for completion in 2015, is a nine-county project that includes Roosevelt County.
The keynote speaker was Robert O’Neill of Butte, a former member of Navy Seal Team 6 and one of the most highly-decorated U.S. combat veterans of our time. O’Neill said while speaking at the Fort Peck Theater that he was present during the mission in Pakistan in 2011 where Osama bin Laden was killed but he could not comment on his role. He was later publicly identified as the Seal who shot bin Laden to death.
Wolf Point High School graduated 40 seniors. Sarah Hafner was the valedictorian and Gabrielle Wozniak was the salutatorian.
Poplar High School graduated 36 seniors. The valedictorian was An-Xuan Tran and Tomee Escarcega was the salutatorian.
June
The June 5 Herald-News reported that 48 enrolled members of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation who have been identified as World War II code talkers were honored posthumously during a ceremony in Poplar’s American Legion Park, Saturday, May 31.
A special committee of the Wolf Point City Council met with Great Northern Development Corporation and environmental consultant Newfields of Missoula, Monday, June 2, to work together toward a cleanup of the fenced-off debris field that was the site of Gysler Furniture and Appliance until a rapidly-moving fire Monday, March 10, leveled both early-20th century Gysler buildings on the corner of Second Avenue South and Anaconda Street.
The Wolf Point School board offset financial woes and cut the preschool program, and approved $296,309 in additional cuts, including teachers and other jobs.
The public safety bonding measure that would have funded a replacement for the aging Roosevelt County jail failed at the polls Tuesday, June 4, but not in votes. It received 57.93 percent [986-716] but failed because 34.88 percent of registered voters cast ballots, slightly fewer than the state mandated 35 percent minimum turnout for passage.
In the hotly contested race for sheriff, Jason Frederick finished first with a landslide 1,515 votes for 77.85 percent with two-term incumbent Freedom Crawford finishing a distant second with 229 votes. Mike Matthews received 142 votes and Don Tomsic, 59. There was one write-in vote.
The board of county commissioners said Monday, June 16, that the unsuccessful public safety bonding measure that would have funded a replacement for the aging Roosevelt County jail will reappear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s second annual Brewfest was held at the Stampede grounds Saturday, June 14.
The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation were saddened by the death of Tribal Executive Board vice chairwoman Annette “Ann” Lambert June 20.
The annual Red Bottom Celebration was held at Frazer, Thursday, June 19, through Sunday, June 22.
The annual four-day Wild West Days celebration that included “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” parade was held in Poplar.
July
The Eastern Montana Shriners sponsored two circus performances at Marvin Brookman Stadium in Wolf Point, Tuesday, July 1.
During a special meeting, Wednesday, July 2, the Wolf Point City Council approved separate applications by Wolf Point Elks Lodge No. 1764 and Bob Stracener, owner of Wolf Point Liquor Market, to hold street dances, Thursday, July 10, as part of the Wild Horse Stampede festivities. The Elks later withdrew the street dance application and held dances on multiple nights in the parking lot between the Elks building and Prairie Cinema.
The Wolf Point Centennial Committee moved forward with hiring Linda Twitchell to assist with planning and promotion of the Wolf Point centennial celebration, which will be held during the 2015 Wild Horse Stampede.
With the office of the Montana State Public Defender under funded and understaffed, six people appeared for felony arraignments in 15th District Court, but no pleas were accepted because no defense attorneys were available.
Roosevelt County Clerk of the District Court and county school superintendent Pat Stennes retired after 41 years as a county employee and 23 in the court position.
Sixteen-year deputy court clerk Jeri Toavs became moved up to both positions.
Arson was suspected as the cause of a fire that destroyed the Wadopana Celebration announcer’s booth, Sunday, July 6. The announcer’s booth was rebuilt in time for the annual pow-wow.
Two grants obtained by Wolf Point Elks Lodge No. 1764 from the Elks National Foundation doubled the prize money and the number of cash winners at the 14th annual KVCK Country Showdown and Talent Korral, held in the Wolf Point High School auditorium, Wednesday, July 9. The winners were Elizabeth Hendrickson of Culbertson, first place; Sarah Morales of Opheim, second; Sean-Paul Schulte of Wolf Point, third; Randy Stensland of Williston, N.D., formerly of Wolf Point, fourth; and Al Bets His Medicine of Poplar, fifth.
The 2014 Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede rodeo, parade and other festivities were held July 10-13.
Local law enforcement reported fewer arrests and fewer incidents than during previous Stampedes.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a resolution, Tuesday, July 15, that increases salaries for themselves and all county department heads.
The commissioners approved a stipend during a meeting later in July for all county employees to receive a stipend between $200 and $300 monthly — above and beyond their salaries — as an incentive to remain on the job.
Monica Reuter and Jesse Reuter, of Sidney, were the first place finishers in the 2014 Governor’s Cup walleye tournament held at Fort Peck Lake, Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12. Kyle Vine, of Vida, and Colby Tocnetti, of Bismark, N.D., finished second. Marvin Johnson of Fort Peck and Donald Johnson of Great Falls finished third.
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department responded to a house fire on the 400 block of Garfield Street, that damaged the home of Herald-News Publisher Darla Downs. No one was injured, but two dogs were lost in the fire.
A grass fire burned 860 acres east from Windy Hill Road and north from U.S. Hwy. 2, Wednesday, July 23. It forced a closure of Hwy. 2.
August
The bonding issue for a new Roosevelt County Jail that failed at the polls in June will be before voters once again for the Nov. 3 general election. The Roosevelt County Commissioners voted unanimously, Tuesday, Aug. 5, to place the measure back on the ballot.
Oppidan Investment Company, a development company in Minnetonka, Minn., representing an unnamed major retailer expressed interest to the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture in purchasing part or all of a 25-acre site on U.S. Hwy. 2, east of the Homestead Inn that the chamber since the 1970s.
An Oppidan representative told the chamber board, Tuesday, Aug. 5, that his company is would purchase the property and then build a 26,000-square-foot building for an unnamed general merchandise retailer and lease the building to that company.
The four-day Wadopana Celebration was held at the Wadopana grounds in Wolf Point,
Thursday through Sunday, July 30, through Aug. 3
The 2014 Roosevelt County Fair opened Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the fairgrounds in Culbertson.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Gary Macdonald said too many alcohol servers were neither properly trained, nor state certified, during a meeting of the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force, Wednesday, Aug. 6. He called for law enforcement to step up enforcement.
The start of construction of the Wolf Point Village apartment complex will be delayed for an unspecified period due to high bids.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force again discussed a need for a DUI Court alternative sentencing Program and the possibility of asking 15th District Court and both justices of the peace [Wolf Point and Culbertson] to consider participation in a DUI Court sentencing diversion program.
The Wolf Point City Council passed the fiscal year 2014-15 budget during a special meeting, Monday, Aug. 11. The general fund was set at $1.59 million, up from $1.452 million one year prior. The total mill authorization was 280.1, an increase from 272.23.
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge David Cybulski declared a mistrial for Malinda Bibb of Minot, N.D., Thursday, Aug. 14, because not enough people who had been called for jury duty showed up.
Wolf Point School trustees adopted the elementary and high school budgets for fiscal year 2014-15, Tuesday, Aug. 12. The $5,103,787 elementary school budget includes a general fund of a little over $3.6 million. The $3,449,560 high school budget includes a general fund of a little over $3.6 million.
The Wolf Point City Council approved a call for bids for the cleanup of the former site of Gysler Furniture and Appliance Monday, Aug. 18.
Four days of monsoonal weather with over five inches of rain in the Wolf Point area during the third week of August  resulted in various degrees of flooding.
The annual Fort Kipp Celebration, a pow-wow that is a celebration of native culture and traditions through dancing, food, crafts and fellowship, was held Thursday, Aug. 21, through Sunday, Aug. 24.
Children returned to school.
September
The Sept. 4 Herald-News reported that Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter held a public meeting in Greet the Dawn Auditorium on the Fort Peck Community
College campus in Poplar, Thursday, Aug. 28. Concerns that human trafficking could become a larger issue in eastern Montana and an increasing drug problem, especially the proliferation of methamphetamine, due to the westward creep of Bakken Oilfield development into Montana.
Lt. Gov. Angela McLean visited the schools in Brockton and Culbertson, Friday, Sept. 5, and discussed growing pains forged out of the Bakken oil boom that have impacted eastern Roosevelt County.
About a dozen people, mostly parents, addressed the Wolf Point School District board of trustees about Native American student issues, Tuesday, Sept. 9, during a public comment period that lasted about 90 minutes.
Great Northern Development Corporation housing specialist and marketing officer Brianna Vine told the Wolf Point City Council, Monday, Sept. 15, that a bid opening for construction of the 24-unit Wolf Point Village rental complex was bumped to Sept. 30 to give contractors more time.
Pastor Danny Lindsay of Overcomer’s Church that occupies the Lord’s Table building on First Avenue South at the corner of East Edgar Street said the soup kitchen might not move into the former Boys and Girls Club building on Main Street, which the Fort Peck
Tribes executive board granted a 25-year lease in August for the tribally owned building be used as a food pantry. He said there are church-owned lots on First Avenue South at East Dawson Street where a new church and Lord’s Table could be built.
Public works director Rick Isle told the Wolf Point City Council, Monday, Sept. 15, that aging clay sewer pipes along Main and Anaconda streets are broken in some places and must be replaced soon.
The first checks for the nearly $950 million Cobell Indian Trust Settlement were mailed Monday, Sept. 15.
A federal grand jury indicted a former Alco assistant manager and one other man, Thursday, Sept. 4, on felony theft charges stemming from an alleged theft from the Wolf Point Alco store in March 2013.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the closure of the shooting area adjacent to Bridge Park, near the Montana Hwy. 13 bridge on the Missouri River. Safety reasons were cited. A possible new public shooting area was discussed with FWP officials during a public meeting in Wolf Point, Tuesday, Sept. 23.
October
The Roosevelt County Commissioners appointed Jason Frederick as interim sheriff following the resignation of Freedom Crawford.
A public meeting was held in Wolf Point, Thursday, Sept. 25, the Fort Peck Sustainable Village project that is slated be built in Poplar and long-range plans to build similar energy efficient tribal houses in Wolf Point and other communities on the Fort Peck Reservation.
The Wolf Point School Board discussed ways to improve after receiving poor marks in several areas on the district’s report card for the last school year.
Dalton Hafner and Maria Vega were Wolf Point High School Homecoming king and queen.
The environmental cleanup of the former site of the Gysler Furniture and Appliance on Anaconda Street and Second Avenue South began Monday, Oct. 20.
Construction of a new building adjacent to the Wolf Point Museum began. It will house antique automobiles, trucks and tractors, and is expected to open before the museum reopens in the spring for the 2015 season.
Volunteers began a cleanup and other work in the former Boys and Girls Club building at 502 Main Street, preparing for the opening of the new food pantry in January.
The proliferation of methamphetamine trafficking and abuse on the Fort Peck Reservation was a major focus of the three-day State of the Reservation Summit held Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 21-23, at Greet the Dawn Auditorium on the Fort Peck
Community College campus in Poplar.
A rollover crash of an Agland Coop propane truck on Montana Hwy. 250, about 11 miles
from Wolf Point, forced evacuations of nearby residences until the next day and a road closure. No serious injuries were reported.
Wolf Point Municipal officials expressed concern that the city could risk losing state water rights when the city connects to the $200 million Assiniboine and Sioux Rural
Water System project pipeline.
November
Roosevelt County voters approved a new jail, Jason Frederick as sheriff, Allen Bowker
as a county commissioner and reelected Austin Knudsen as a state representative Tuesday, Nov. 4. Statewide, voters elected Republicans Steve Daines to the U.S. Senate and Ryan Zinke to U.S. House of Representatives.
A public scoping meeting was held at Vida School 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.
The future of the Wolf Point ALCO store was uncertain following the  Coppell, Texas-headquartered ALCO Stores, Inc., filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Wolf Point’s school administrators sounded an alarm over enrolled students who are not attending school during the monthly Wolf Point School Board meeting, Monday, Nov. 10.
The developer who is interested purchasing property from the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture off U.S. Hwy. 2 near the Homestead Inn and building a 26,000-square-foot building for a national retailer said Monday, Nov. 10, that site prep costs are going to be higher than expected. He also said the ALCO bankruptcy and possible closure of the retailer in Wolf Point could become a factor.
A former assistant manager of the Wolf Point ALCO store and another man withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas to theft from the retailer and enter new pleas in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.
The Fort Peck Tribes welcomed 139 genetically pure bison from Yellowstone National Park Nov. 13.
A fire severely damaged Gospel Fellowship Church on the corner of Hill Street and Second Avenue North Tuesday, Nov. 18. The fire was deemed not suspicious. The church was left temporarily without a usable building and decisions of whether to rebuild part or all of the church.
The Fort Peck Tribes hired attorney Eldena Nicole Bear Don’t Walk of Saint Ignatius in western Montana to serve as a tribal judge. She is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. She will become the only attorney serving on the bench in Fort Peck Tribal Court. Her presence will make the tribal court in Poplar one of just four in the nation permitted to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence where a tribal member is a victim. The federal Violence Against Women Act allows tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians for
domestic abuse, but both the presiding judge and defense attorney must be lawyers.
December
The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture took the kickoff of the holiday season in a new direction with Wolf Point’s first “Get Lit In Wolf Point, Festival Of Lights And Stroll,” Friday, Dec. 5. The new event that broke a long tradition and replaced the Parade of Lights was successful;’.
The Northeast Montana Health Services Charitable Foundation Festival of Trees was also held Dec. 5 in Wolf Point Elks Club. Santa Claus and The Grinch were there for pictures by photographer Nicole Huber.
One month after nearly 57 percent of Roosevelt County voters approved bond funding for a new jail and office space for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office, Bill Juve of Wolf Point filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices alleging
misuse of county funds in support of the ballot measure that he said violated an opinion by the Montana Attorney General.
The future of the 14-year-old cross deputization law enforcement agreement between the city of Wolf Point and the Fort Peck Tribes might be in jeopardy following a decision by the tribes’ executive board not to renew the cross deputization of one city officer.
The tribal decision relates to one or more unspecified allegations. Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada told the City Council, Monday, Dec. 15, that he was not aware of specific allegations. The council decided to schedule a meeting of city’s Police and Animal Control Committee as soon as possible to address the issue. Tribal officials would be invited. A meeting had not been scheduled as 2014 came to a close.
The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices decided in favor of Roosevelt County
in a complaint by a Wolf Point resident alleging misuse of county funds in support of the voter-approved public safety bonding measure to fund a new jail and office space for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office. The decision says the only misstep by the Roosevelt County Commissioners was a statement supporting voter approval of the bonding measure in a paid letter to the editor published in October in The Herald-News and The Searchlight.

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Montana Cowboy Hall Of Fame Challenges Montanans To Build On $100,000 Gilhousen Gift In 2015

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center looks to kick off 2015 in a big way by challenging Montanans to match the $100,000 gift made by Klein and Karen Gilhousen of Copper Spring Ranch in Bozeman to the Homesteaders Campaign.
The Homesteaders Campaign funds the construction and endowment of the MCHF’s cultural education center. As the statewide headquarters for the MCHF educational programing, the center will inspire future generations through the examples of those that have contributed to our rich cultural heritage.
“We understand the importance of creating momentum to launch a fund raising campaign,” said Karen Gilhousen. “We are excited to realize the building of this center as a tribute to those that have come before us and as a resource to the next generation as it carries on the great traditions of our Montana way of life.”
“History often overlooks the hardworking members of our communities who have selflessly contributed to the day-to-day improvement of our hometowns while providing leadership for the next generation,” said director of finance Aaron Lyles. “The hall of fame exists most notably to celebrate and pass forward these examples.”
Board member Mike Gurnett observed, “This is truly an idea for which the time has come. Each day we lose more of our heritage and it is our responsibility to act now. How many of us regret not capturing the stories of our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors before they were lost forever?”
Officially designated by
the Montana state legislature, the MCHF is a 501c3 non-profit organization.  Having selected the strategic location of Big Timber for its building site, organizers have worked with nationally renowned firms Storyline Studio and ConsultEcon to complete the exhibition design and operations planning for the center. The announcement of the Homesteaders Campaign marked an important milestone for the organization as it works to realize its vision of building Montana’s premier western heritage destination attraction.
Gilhousen adds, “It is our hope that this initial challenge encourages others to become examples of leadership, and to inspire those who cherish our Montana way of life to invest in the promise it holds for the next generation.”
Looking ahead to 2015, the MCHF will host its ninth annual Circle the Wagons Gathering, Cowboy Ball & Auction Feb. 6-7 in Helena at the Great Northern Best Western Hotel. On Jan. 19, Headwaters Livestock in Three Forks will hold a special benefit cattle auction for the MCHF. Producers who would like to donate cattle to the sale should contact Lyles at 406-600-8231.
For more information about the Homesteaders Campaign and the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center, visit www.MontanaCowboyFame.org.

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Family With Local Ties Heads Off To Help With Haiti Project

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The Collins family (left to right, in front) are Kanyon, 3, Keith and Aida, 10, (in back) Andrea and Griffin, 14.  (Photo by Chris Peterson / Hungry Horse News)

A Columbia Falls family has given away most of its worldly possessions this holiday season to help those in greater need. The Collins family plans on working and living in Haiti, an impoverished island country still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
“We pretty much gave everything away,” Keith Collins said. “We kept our bed.”
Collins, his wife Andrea and their children, Griffin, 14, Aida, 10, and Kanyon, 3, will leave for Haiti on Dec. 31.
On a mission through Hope Church in Kalispell, the family will work with HaitiArise, a nonprofit building an elementary school and children’s village in Grand Goave.
Keith has extensive experience in construction — he worked on several high-end homes in the Whitefish area for years. He has dual Canadian and American citizenship — his family moved to Eastern Montana when he was young and his father found work there. Andrea is from Glasgow but has always had a Flathead connection — her grandparents had a cottage on Flathead Lake.
The couple has no trepidation about leaving for a country with a markedly unstable political past.
“When you know God has called you to something, you trust,” Andrea said.
The couple has been to Haiti for past projects, two weeks at a time on several occasions, but this trip is for six months. Andrea will home school the children while they’re away. The kids will trade in hockey skates for flip-flops.
Griffin has been to Haiti before and says he’s looking forward to returning. The weather is nice and the people are friendly, he said, and he likes helping others. He’s also an avid fly fishermen, and Haiti offers good ocean fishing for bonefish, permit and other fish.
The school and the village will serve orphans and freed slaves. About one out of every 10 children in Haiti has been a slave at some point in their lives, the couple said.
The Collins don’t fear unrest. HaitiArise has an excellent track record in Haiti — the nonprofit built a technical college there that was destroyed by the earthquake and has since been rebuilt.
The Collins also will have some local company — Hope Church will send a contingent of members in February to help on the project.
Andrea has set up a blog to share the family’s adventure at http://fivemangoes.stmnetwork.ca.
(Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted by permission.)

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