Wolf Point Herald

City Council Told Gysler Fire Cleanup On Track

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.
A fast-moving fire on March 10 destroyed the two adjacent Gysler buildings on the 100 block of Anaconda Street, leaving portions of block walls and other charred remains, some of which are believed to contain asbestos.
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 council approved a plan in June for the city to purchase the property for $1 and get it cleaned up under the federal Brownfields program at no municipal cost or liability.
The site is expected to qualify as 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.
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, and is subject to federal regulation.
“[The Gysler cleanup project] is moving along very well,” mayor Chris Dschaak said. He is hoping to have bids back this fall.
The transfer of the real estate has not happened. Dschaak said the city is waiting to be sure that government funding for the cleanup is guaranteed.

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City Still Looking For Council Replacement

Mayor Chris Dschaak said during the Wolf Point City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 18, that a replacement has not been found for Ward 1 councilman Travis Braaten resigned in July because he is moving outside the city limits.
Any registered voter living within Ward 1 who is interested in the appointment that would be for about two years should contact the city.
Ward 1 extends east from Third Avenue South to the city limits east of First Avenue South and from the railroad tracks to the southern boundary of the city.

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Fort Kipp Celebration This Weekend

It is time once again for the annual Fort Kipp Celebration, a pow-wow that is a celebration of native culture and traditions through dancing, food, crafts and fellowship.
The Fort Kipp Celebration starts Friday, Aug. 22, with grand entry at 7 p.m. Grand entries will be at 1 and 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24. Thursday, Aug. 21 is camping day and a youth pow wow will be held.
The celebration is a long-standing tradition on the Fort Peck Reservation.
Dance categories will be: adult; teen, ages 13-17; junior, ages 7-12; and tiny tot.
Daily specials are planned.
There will be a one-mile walk/run on Saturday, Aug. 23. Registration will be from 7:30-8 a.m. The walk/run begins at 8 a.m.
The public is welcome at the celebration.

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Wolf Point Village Delay May Be Only Temporary

The Wolf Point City Council was informed Monday, Aug. 18, that a new bidding process for the Wolf Point Village apartment complex will soon begin and that a groundbreaking could still be held this year.
The project appeared to be going forward on schedule when the council approved a call for construction bids for the planned 24-unit rental complex, Wednesday, July 2, but the council rejected high bids earlier this month, nixing a groundbreaking planned for Friday, Aug. 15, and changing the timeline for the entire process that includes bidding, groundbreaking and construction.
The re-bidding process will begin this week with bids due Tuesday, Sept. 23, Great Northern Development Corporation housing specialist and marketing officer Brianna Vine told the council.
“Hopefully we will be able to break ground before the snow flies,” Vine said.
Bids received by the July 31 deadline of the first call for bids were in the $4- to $5-million range, far exceeding what had been anticipated.
The city received a $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce.
Great Northern Development Corporation is project manager for the city.
Plans are to build four one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. 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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Letter About Stipend

Dear Editor:
Elected officials are entrusted with representing the voters and doing what is in the best interest of county taxpayers. This includes the best use of discretionary funds to benefit all county residents/taxpayers. Resolution 2015-4 used Oil Severance Tax money to raise almost all county employees by $300 per month/$1.73 per hour/$3,600 per year or totally about $360,000 county-wide. This resolution specifically states this stipend is for help with temporary housing during peak oil production in the County. Only county employees get this monetary benefit. I find it very hard to believe that all county employees are having difficulty finding housing, but I wouldn’t turn down a salary increase if I was handed one either.
What about the rest of the taxpayers in Roosevelt County? Are they not in the same situation as county employees? Shouldn’t this money benefit all taxpayers in the county, not just a privileged few?
The compensation board is being convened to consider giving this stipend to elected officials. How can any one of the elected officials justify needing more money for housing assistance? The salaries they are receiving seem adequate. They range from $109,272.40 year/$52.53 hr. to $61,218.80 year/ $29.43 hr. This includes the $9,718.80 they receive yearly for health insurance. In addition to this, they get an additional 8.17 percent of their gross salary paid into each of their retirement funds.
Why can’t the rest of the county taxpayers get some assistance with this “extra” money? I have talked to business owners and they have the same problem recruiting and retaining employees but they can’t just give everyone a raise. They have no pot of gold. Maybe a tax rebate to taxpayers might be a better solution so everyone can get a piece of the pie.  
This Oil Severance Tax money should be used to reduce taxes or fix infrastructure that need addressing. I have tried for the last five years to get one mile of road adequately repaired, it has never happened. No money, no people, no equipment, no materials! I was told years ago that there was going to be a fund set up to address the repairs, but this has never happened.
The taxpayers have been asked to increase taxes to provide more sheriff’s deputies. Now the commissioners want more money to fund a new jail. Also, there is concern that the tax base may be lowered because of the Cobell buyback program. Would it not be a better use of this money to save it for upcoming expenses or fixing current needs rather than giving the privileged few a raise?
Bill Juve, Taxpayer
(Editor’s Note: The above letter was presented at the compensation board meeting to the board members and reprinted here by request of Bill Juve.)

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