Written by John Plestina
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 constructing 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.
Drew Johnson of Oppidan Investment Company, a Minnetonka, Minn., commercial developer, said the still unnamed national retailer would make final decisions about the development.
“With the help of a lot of hard work with a lot of local contractors and consultants, we have estimated the cost to get to a buildable pad,” Johnson said.
The preparations include removing remnants of the railroad yard that was once operating at the site, trucking in fill, water service and paving a portion of First Avenue North near the development site.
Johnson said a “wildcard” is the Oct. 12 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by ALCO Stores, Inc. As a result, the future of the Wolf Point ALCO store is uncertain.
He said Oppidan is not likely to purchase the 25,000-square-foot ALCO store, but the developer is watching the situation.
The chamber board of directors voted unanimously, Tuesday, Sept. 2, to sign a buy-sell agreement with Oppidan to sell up to 10 acres of the 25-acre site for $35,000 per acre. The chamber has owned the land since the 1970s.
Johnson has called his company’s client a general merchandise retailer that would lease the building from Oppidan.
Oppidan handles property acquisitions and develops construction sites for several national retailers, grocery chains and restaurants.
It is unknown if more than one business might locate on the site.
Written by Herald-News
Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture executive director Julie D’Ambrosio presents the First Dollar Award to Josh Toews, owner of Josh Toews Hay Grinding Inc., Friday, Oct. 31. Toews recently began doing business at 173 Nickwall Rd. south of Wolf Point. (Photo by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
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.
Steve Daines was elected to the U.S. Senate and Ryan Zinke to U.S. House of Representatives as part of the nationwide wave by Republican candidates, winning control of the Senate and adding to the number of GOP held House seats.
Roosevelt County Clerk and Recorder Cheryl Hansen reported that 2,728 ballots were cast countywide, with 5,738 registered voters, for a 47.58 percent turnout.
New Jail Approved
The new jail and improved office space are now on tap for the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office with voter approval of the jail bond.
The jail bond was approved 1,502-1,149 with a 47.58 percent turnout at the polls. Nearly 57 percent of ballots cast were affirmative for the new jail.
A previous attempt to gain voter approval for a jail bonding measure failed at the polls in June due to a voter turnout that was too low to meet the legal state requirement. That bonding issue received 57.93 percent [986-716] of the votes cast. The voter turnout was 34.88 percent.
The approval authorizes the county commissioners to issue and sell $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years.
The projected mill levy increase would add $42.68 annually to the taxes on a residence assessed at $100,000.
Legal action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013 forced Roosevelt County to reduce the number of jail beds by nearly one half and the threat of further legal action against the county has loomed over the aging jail that does not meet current standards.
Interim sheriff Jason Frederick defeated recently resigned sheriff Freedom Crawford 2,433-223.
County Commission Dist. 1
Allen Bowker defeated Frank Smith 645-368 for the Roosevelt County Commission District 1 seat that is currently held by Jim Shanks, who did not seek another term.
Republican Austin Knudsen of Culbertson was reelected to state House District 34, defeating Gene Hartsock of Glasgow 3,276 to 1,022.
In State Senate District 19, Republican Frederick Davis Moore defeated Democrat Bill McChesney 5,216 to 2,438.
In State House District 31, Democrat Bridget Smith was reelected unopposed with 1,797 votes.
In State House District 37, Republican Lee Randall defeated Democrat Dixie Rieger 3,622 to 902.
Republican Steve Daines received 57.89 percent of the statewide vote, defeating Democrat Amanda Curtis 211,331 to 145,902 for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by John Walsh. Libertarian Roger Roots received 7,721 votes. In Roosevelt County, Daines defeated Curtis 1,331 to 1,255. Roots had 56 votes.
Republican Ryan Zinke received 55.47 percent of votes cast, defeating Democrat John Lewis 201,436 to 146,474 for the at-large U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by Steve Daines. Libertarian Mike Fellows received 15,105 votes. In Roosevelt County: Zinke, 1,256; Lewis, 1,251; Fellows, 116.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 1: Jim Rice over W. David Herbert 234,221 to 64,462. Rice won 1,761-422 in Roosevelt County.
Montana Supreme Court Justice 2: Mike Wheat over Lawrence VanDyke 192,811 to 133,351. Wheat won in Roosevelt County 1,402 to 922.
State Ballot Questions
Legislative Referendum No. 126, which would have ended Election Day voter registrations, failed 203,024 to 153,986. LR 126 lost 1,448 to 1,149 in Roosevelt County.
Constitutional Amendment No. 45, which would have changed the name of the state auditor to commissioner of securities and insurance failed 175,365 to 164,547. Roosevelt County voters voted down the measure 1,381 to 1,092.
Public Service Commissioner
For Public Service Commissioner District 1, Republican Travis Kavulla was elected unopposed with 48,967 votes. He received 1,882 votes in Roosevelt County.
Written by John Plestina
Several semis loaded with a total of 139 wild bison will arrive at the cultural range unit on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Thursday, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m.
The bison are certified to be genetically pure and disease-free. These bison will add to the tribe’s existing herd, started with a previous relocation in 2012. With this second transfer, the tribes will become the caretakers of a combined herd of almost 200 bison, the largest conservation herd of pure, wild Yellowstone bison in Montana, outside Yellowstone National Park.
This paved the way for using Yellowstone’s genetically pure bison to start new conservation herds outside the park. The 139 animals that will be transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation are currently held at Ted Turner’s Green Ranch. These bison have undergone more than eight year of multi-generational testing.
The public is invited and the Fort Peck Tribes will provide bus transportation to the site from the senior center that is located near Tribal Express on U.S. Hwy. 2 in Poplar. People wishing to ride need to be there by 8:45 a.m. Transportation will be available for anyone.
For those driving, the site is north from Hwy. 2 on Montana Hwy. 13, turn right at mile marker 19, travel three miles and go over a cattle guard, entering the cultural range unit. Green flagging will be posted.
A feed for the public will follow at the activity center in Poplar.
“It’s a pretty historical moment with the return of bison onto their homelands,” Robert Magnan, of the Fort Peck Tribes Fish and Game Department, said.
Magnan said he expects a large turnout of local people, state and federal officials and Montana and national media.
The tribes have two buffalo ranges. The Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch is located six miles north of the cultural range unit. Currently, there are about 200 head on that range. A buffalo herd was reintroduced on the reservation in 1999. Hunting is permitted with permits from the tribes at the Turtle Mountain Buffalo Ranch only.
State wildlife officials recently announced a decision to implement the recent approval by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish and Wildlife Commission to relocate the 139 bison to the reservation.
Following the completion of environmental analysis and review of public comments, a decision by the FWP found no significant issues associated with relocating bison to the tribal location, or to three out-of-state locations that were also under consideration.
The finding essentially follows the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s October approval to keep the bison within state borders if a finding of no significance was determined.
The wild bison were part of a quarantine feasibility study conducted by FWP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at a facility near Corwin Springs north of Yellowstone National Park. The work was aimed at finding a feasible method to produce wild bison free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause some pregnant bison, elk and domestic cattle to abort their first calf. Bison in the program have been repeatedly tested over the course of their quarantine and are brucellosis-free.
In March, state wildlife officials requested proposals from agencies or organizations capable of permanently caring for the bison for conservation purposes. The bison have been held at the Green Ranch, west of Bozeman, during their five-year monitoring period.
Brucellosis, initially introduced to North America through livestock but now also found in Yellowstone bison, has been the main reason for opposition by some individuals and groups to the relocation of Yellowstone bison, even though bison have not been implicated in a single case of transmission of brucellosis to cattle in the wild.
FWP received 10 proposals, four of which were analyzed in the environmental assessment. The examined proposals included one from the Fort Peck Tribes and others from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Wildlife Conservation Society Zoo Consortium in New York and Ohio.
Yellowstone bison have been called true descendants of the massive wild herds, totaling up to 30 million that roamed the West over a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches and interbred with cattle. The numbers dwindled because of illegal hunting.
Today, Yellowstone’s bison population of approximately 4,900 is the largest wild herd in the nation, as well as one of the few herds free of all cattle genes. This combination of genetics and lack of domestication sets the Yellowstone bison apart from any other herd and offers hope for complete restoration of the species.
Written by John Plestina
A 17-year-old Lustre male was killed and an 11-year-old boy was injured in a single-vehicle crash on Wiota Road east of Nashua Saturday, Nov. 8.
The Montana Highway Patrol reported that the Chevrolet C 1500 pickup was southbound on Wiota Road near Point Road east of Nashua and near Fort Peck Lake. The pickup continued straight off the road where it turns 90 degrees to the east at about 6:20 p.m. The driver corrected, spun, struck a fence, went off a steep embankment and rolled onto its top into an irrigation canal, trapping the driver, according to the MHP report.
The driver was deceased at the scene.
The 11-year-old was able to escape from the wreck. He was transported by ambulance to Francis Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow. His condition was not known as of presstime.
The MHP did not identify the driver, but friends have identified him as Brett Norman.
The driver was wearing a seatbelt. It is not known whether the passenger was wearing a seat belt.