Wolf Point Herald

Deal For Chamber-Owned Land Falls Through As Big Box Retailer Is Revealed

The Twin Cities developer who was interested in constructing a 26,000-square-foot building for a national retailer has cancelled a purchase agreement with the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously in September to sign a buy-sell agreement with Oppidan Investment Company, a Minnetonka, Minn., commercial developer, to sell up to 10 acres of a 25-acre site near the Homestead Inn for $35,000 per acre. The chamber has owned the former Great Northern Railroad roundhouse site since the Burlington Northern Railroad donated it during the 1970s.
Oppidan’s Drew Johnson confirmed that the deal was off to The Herald-News Wednesday, Feb. 4.
He said the previously unnamed retailer that was looking to expand into Wolf Point is Shopko and, with the ALCO bankruptcy filing in October 2014, the focus shifted to the ALCO building on Hwy. 2.
Johnson first approached the chamber board in August.
“We are in the process of doing 14 stores with them [Shopko] across four states,” Johnson said.
The four states include Montana and North Dakota.
“Shopko’s closest competitor was ALCO,” Johnson said.
He said in November that site prep costs for the chamber property would be higher than expected. He also acknowledged that the ALCO bankruptcy could be a factor for the retailer he was representing.
Johnson said during late 2014 that the major retailer would be an anchor store for what could be a development of several chain businesses.
Oppidan handles property acquisitions and develops construction sites for several national retailers, grocery chains and restaurants.
“Everyone at Wolf Point and the chamber was really great to work with. We are really disappointed it didn’t work out,” Johnson said.
Chamber president Jeff Presser expressed disappointment that the development fell through.

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Food Bank Moves Toward Possible Spring Opening

Rose Neumiller Green envisions a food pantry in Wolf Point with a friendly grocery store atmosphere where people could come into a waiting room where they would be registered on a computer and then given a grocery list in which they would go around the shelves and put their own groceries into the cart.
Green, who obtained the use of the former Boys and Girls Club building on the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue South from the Fort Peck Tribes during late 2014, has assembled a board of directors and volunteers. More volunteers and more work are needed. Doors are being widened to allow pallet jacks to pass from room to room and an elevator will eventually be installed. A battery-operated forklift, pallet mover, shelving, grocery carts and stainless steel tables for repackaging are also needed.
A date for the food pantry to open has not been set.
Green said she expects to feed between 600 and 1,000 families each month.
Physical renovations are nearing completion in the building. Major projects are almost completed, including floors and walls. The painting, widening of doors, assembly of shelves, wiring and the installation of computers, commercial glass door freezers and refrigerators still need to be completed.
Green recognized several businesses that have been generous with donations. They include: First Community Bank, $500;Town Pump, over $4,000; Cenex, $1,200; Basket of Hope, $6,500; Gysler Hardware, scissor lift for painting; Farmers Union Lumber, paint; Wills Office World, computer and printer/fax; Mr. Wire, electrical work and commercial stainless steel sink; and many volunteers for providing labor.
Green said additional funding is currently sought from the Fort Peck Tribes, Wolf Point Community Organization, Shakopee Nation and other sources.
The Food Pantry would be open five days each week and would serve all surrounding communities.
With the closure of the last food pantry in Wolf Point, the nearest services are currently in Culbertson.
The board of directors is complete and includes Green, Billi Brownlee, Roxanne Gourneau, Paul Gysler, Gary Johnson, Rhonda Mason, Larry Monson, John Plestina, Marlene Turner and Winona Runsabove Meyer.
Contact Green at 650-5667 to volunteer or with any questions.

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Reservoir System Prepared For 2015 Runoff Season; Previously Stored Flood Waters Evacuated

The Missouri River mainstem reservoir system has the full flood control zone capacity available for the 2015 runoff season because all of the previously stored flood waters have been evacuated, according to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Water Management Division.
“The last remaining 2014 flood water was evacuated in early January when the combined storage in the reservoirs fell below 56.1 million acre feet, the base of the flood control zone,” said Jody Farhat, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “The entire flood control capacity of the mainstem reservoir system is ready to capture runoff in the spring, reducing flood risk while providing good support to the other authorized project purposes.”  
Based on the current soil moisture and mountain snowpack conditions, the 2015 forecast runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, is 25.5 MAF, 101 percent of normal. Normal runoff is 25.2 MAF.  January runoff into the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was 178 percent of normal. Runoff typically slows during winter months as snow accumulates and rivers freeze, reducing inflows into the reservoir system.  However, warmer-than-normal temperatures during the last half of January melted plains snow and river ice, resulting in above normal runoff for the month.  
“Because of the warm temperatures, system storage climbed in late January, ending the month at 56.5 MAF, 0.4 MAF above the base of the annual flood control zone,” said Farhat. “Typically, this inflow would occur in early spring; it came a bit early this year but doesn’t impact the reservoir system’s ability to reduce flood risk.”  
As of Feb. 5, the mountain snowpack was 95 percent of normal in the reach above Fort Peck Dam and 101 percent of normal in the reach from Fort Peck to Garrison dams.  Mountain snowpack will continue to accumulate during the next few months and normally peaks in mid-April.
“Currently, the mountain snowpack and runoff forecast are near average, but there are more than two months remaining in the snowpack accumulation season,” said Farhat. “We will continue to monitor basin conditions through the winter and into spring and will fine tune the regulation of the reservoir system based on the most up-to-date information.” 

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Frontier Principal Resigning

Frontier Elementary School principal Jack O’Neill is resigning effective June 30 after holding the post since the beginning of the current school year.
The school board accepted his resignation Monday, Feb. 9.
Superintendent Christine Eggar cited health reasons for O’Neill’s resignation.
She said an executive session that had been scheduled to address a personnel matter was canceled.
O’Neill, 67, came to Frontier after a long career as an educator in Colorado. He is also a former deputy sheriff in Colorado and a Vietnam veteran.
In other business, the board canceled $18,000 in warrants that haven’t been cashed since 1999 to relieve the taxpayer burden.
The school board also hired a bus driver, janitor and assistant coach.

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DUI Task Force Holds Membership Drive

The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force is launching a membership drive in an effort to increase the membership in terms of both numbers and a diverse cross section of the county population.
The task force plans and implements strategies and activities that help reduce alcohol-related crashes, many with injuries and fatalities. The task force is not an arm of law enforcement.
Montana has historically had one of the highest alcohol fatality rates in the nation with annual averages of about 10 percent of crashes being alcohol or drug related. That accounts for nearly 50 percent of deaths on Montana’s roads.
While law enforcement and other professionals are members of the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force, everyone is welcome. Views and concerns from the public are sought from people from all walks of life, including parents, daycare providers, business owners, representatives of the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, insurance agents, educators, students, senior citizens and others are encouraged to participate. People who can communicate, problem solve, organize, analyze data, write, stuff envelopes, hang posters, distribute brochures, facilitate groups and volunteer in various ways are needed.
Several meetings to organize a DUI task force were held between late 2013 and April 2014 when the county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force. The group that had been meeting as a steering committee comprised of elected officials, law enforcement and county residents, approved by-laws during its first official meeting Wednesday, May 7.
Macdonald chairs the task force. The other officers are: Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada, vice chair; Mary Vine, who also serves as coordinator for the task force, secretary; and Kahlil Wehbe, treasurer.
The DUI Task Force meets monthly at the Roosevelt County Health Department on Custer Street across from the courthouse in the community services conference room. The next scheduled meeting will be Wednesday, March 4, at 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.

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