Written by John Plestina
Amtrak Empire Builder trains will operate on a modified schedule, starting April 15, with most of the change affecting passengers between St. Paul, Minn., and Portland, Ore., or Seattle, Wash.
As described on the attached Passenger Service Notice, the eastbound Empire Builder trains leaving Seattle (Train 8) and Portland (Train 28) will originate three hours earlier than they do now. The trains are combined leaving Chicago and St. Paul (Train 7/27) and are separated at Spokane, Wash., with about 90 minutes added to the current westbound schedules between St. Paul and Seattle or Portland. Schedules between St. Paul and Chicago are largely unchanged.
“We are working closely with BNSF Railway Co., which owns the tracks and controls the dispatching of the Empire Builder trains between St. Paul and the West Coast, in order to publish a schedule that accounts for the freight train congestion and the condition of the BNSF-owned infrastructure,” said Jim Brzezinski, the route director for the Empire Builder.
“We will assess the ability of BNSF to dispatch the Empire Builder with better reliability on this schedule, with further schedule changes possible in June.”
Amtrak routinely notifies customers with existing reservations who are affected by schedule modifications such as this one.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 15:11
Written by Jaimee Green, NEMHS
The wait is over. The long anticipated arrival of a new 2014 emergency services ambulance for Northeast Montana Health Services took place on March 24 in front of the ambulance shed of Trinity Hospital on Monday. There, John Carlbom, Trinity Hospital site supervisor for EMS, was handed the keys to the newest addition to NEMHS’ ambulance transportation.
The ambulance crew has waited patiently for the past two years while NEMHS was working in collaboration with the Montana Department of Transportation in building a new 2014 ambulance, in which they were able to design the entire vehicle themselves.
This was made possible through a matching DOT grant NEMHS applied for back in 2012.
“We are thrilled to have an ambulance that is built to our specifications from the ground up. This will enable us to better serve our community’s needs in a medical emergency. Our primary job as EMS staff is to make sure the residents of this community are served with quality pre-
hospital care,” said Carlbom.
The Trinity campus EMS service is once again running with two ambulances, with a crew of 11 members. Poplar also has two ambulances and four staff members. Together, the campuses responded to 2,287 emergency calls last fiscal year.
The 2014 GMC G3500 Type III ambulance comes equipped with a V8 turbo diesel engine.
It will replace the 2007 Ford 450 Super Duty ambulance that was recently decommissioned after breaking down New Year’s Eve. It has since been sold.
“After running the numbers and looking at our budget, it simply wasn’t economically feasible for us to fix. The rig, while fairly new, was equipped as a Meditech model and, as of 2014, is no longer being built. In 2016, it will no longer be possible to purchase parts if they are needed. We couldn’t justify investing in a vehicle that will soon become obsolete especially since we knew our new rig was in its final build stage and set for delivery,” said Nonette Brown, director of EMS.
In the interim, they were using an ambulance from Roosevelt Medical Center of Culbertson.
“They were gracious enough to allow us to borrow theirs, but with their increased call volume related to the oil activity, they understandably needed it back,” she added.
The total cost for the new ambulance was $152,113. With a 90/10 match, NEMHS will pay $15,211 as a capital expenditure with the remaining cost being absorbed by the DOT through highway non-restricted account funds.
The contract to build the ambulance, as well as others for communities that also received the grant allocation throughout the state, was awarded to Braun Northwest Inc. of Che-halis, Wash. The four other grant awardees who requested an ambulance included Belt, Libby, Cut Bank and Red Lodge.
The ambulance was originally set to arrive during the summer of 2012, but there were a number of unforeseen delays. Some of the reasons included the federal government shutdown and the necessary and continual communication between the state, NEMHS and Braun.
“There is so much that goes into putting an ambulance together. The list of specifications was dozens of pages long and everything had to be crossed checked to ensure it was covered by the grant,” Carlbom said.
The crew will now get busy stocking the new ambulance with supplies and equipment, readying it for its first call.
“We’ve come a long way from the days when emergency services grassroots efforts for getting patients to the hospital included a donated hearse, or an ambulance equipped with a gurney and boxes filled with medical supplies. Today, we are lucky to have state-of-the-art medical transportation equipped with life saving equipment that can truly make the difference between life and death,” said Brown. “And nearly every day, it does,” she concluded.
In November, the Poplar Hospital campus will be requesting another ambulance through the same grant. In previous years, they have also received a stair chair and CPR manikins to use for staff development and training.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 14:02
Written by Vicki Viall
The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture recently hired Kelly Cranford to be the chamber’s new executive secretary.
Chamber president Jeff Presser said he saw much potential in Cranford and thought he could help the chamber and, ultimately, Wolf Point grow.
“What the board of directors is looking for from Kelly is to move the chamber forward and to bring commerce and events to local businesses and the community,” Presser said.
Although Cranford recently traveled out of the area for his brother’s funeral, he was already working to promote Wolf Point. He met and invited people from Utah, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma to visit Wolf Point this summer and experience Stampede.
Cranford said he would also like to see some kind of winter event or festival created to embrace northeast Montana winters. Such an event could be held on a weekend or it could be a week-long festival involving cross-country skiing, a biathlon, skijoring or other events and could be a stand-alone Wolf Point event or could be expanded to include all of Roosevelt County.
The chamber was deeply involved in providing volunteers for the two basketball tournaments recently hosted in Wolf Point. The chamber also hosts the Wolf Point Brew Fest and is key in the success of the annual Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede.
Cranford was previously employed by Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:08
Written by Vicki Viall
Amtrak’s web site recently announced that they are addressing delays that customers who utilize the Empire Builder have been experiencing in North Dakota.Customers have experienced delays and have had to move from one train to another via buses to reach their destinations.According to the message posted on their site, these delays and inconveniences to passengers has been caused by BNSF Railway who owns the tracks that Amtrak uses.Amtrak wants to assure customers they are aware of the issues and feel the customers pain.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 03:38
Written by Vicki Viall
Wolf Point's Southside Elementary School is one of two Roosevelt County schools and nine in Montana that will receive state grant money as oil and gas impacted schools.
This is the first year that the Montana Office of Public Instruction has awarded these grants.
The awards are available for oil and gas impacted schools that receive oil and natural gas production taxes in an amount less than 20 percent of the district's maximum general fund budget. These grants can range from $16,541 up to $75,000.
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 01:20