Written by Eric Killelea
CHS Inc., the nation’s biggest co-op, recently offered tours to farmers showing them ongoing construction of the new grain elevator at the Macon terminal outside Wolf Point.
ASI Industrial, of Billings, began construction in May and expects the completion date in July.
With an added storage capacity of 915,000 bushels, the new grain elevator will include a 110-car capacity on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway line moving peas along with spring and winter wheats to markets. The current elevator, which will connect to the new structure, was erected in 1974 and stores 990,000 bushels.
“We don’t have elevators to handle the modern-day farmer,” said James Lee Hardy III, manager at the Macon and Wolf Point terminals. “The farmers are excited because we’re re-investing in them.”
CHS declined to estimate the cost.
The Macon terminal has been buzzing with construction crews. It’s a welcomed site for the area farmers who have struggled with outdated grain elevators, while waiting on rail cars that seemed to focus on getting in and out of the Bakken oil patch. But various ingredients including political pressure, an increased buildout of pipelines and a slowdown in drilling activity have improved business for the farmers in eastern Montana.
“BNSF rail services to agriculture has improved in the past year,” Hardy said. “The rail freight (frack sand and pipe) is not as bad and this will help us load out more trains.”
The new elevator will have two unloading pits to receive an additional 20,000 bushels per hour each, up from 6,500 per hour today. The facility will have the capacity to load 105,000 bushels per hour – a considerable improvement from 35,000 bushels.
“The elevator will help provide better services to farmers without a doubt,” Hardy said. “We’ll be able to load out freight significantly faster.”
CHS did not plan to hire additional workers to its six person staff at the Macon terminal. Hardy did not have the cost of the overall construction but said ASI had nearly 100 workers for each of two shifts.
“That means it’s bringing in a whole lot of dollars into Wolf Point,” Hardy said.
CHS, based in St. Paul, Minn., is an agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States.
Written by Eric Killelea
Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, flies Cape Air services in and out of Billings for business and personal meetings.
She is among the declining number of passengers using the Essential Air Service program that offers flights to Billings from Glasgow, Glendive, Havre, Sidney and Wolf Point since 2013 and has been awarded a new subsidized contract by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The new contract continues service over the next four years at a 3 percent increase in annual subsidy. The current annual subsidy is $11.9 million.
Smith says the airline service is needed despite the number of passengers having dropped over the past year due to the slowdown in the Bakken oil fields of eastern Montana and western North Dakota.
The latest federal data shows most airports suffered declining figures between August 2013 and August 2014: Glasgow at 0.8 percent to 4,847 passengers; Glendive at 8.9 percent to 2,835; Sidney at 11.7 percent to 13,376; Wolf Point at 1.3 percent to 5,030. Havre increased its numbers by 0.3 to 3,029.
“Still, we need our airline service,” Smith said. “It’s one of the areas – besides roads – that we need help with here.”
Flights cost $52 each way, including all taxes and fees. The airline’s nine-passenger plane departs from the Wolf Point airport at 6:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on its flights to Billings, and arrives back in Wolf Point at 12:16 p.m. and 7:11 p.m.
Richard Isle, director at the Wolf Point Public Works Department with general administrative power over the airport, said passengers can take the early morning flights and return home in the same day and others can use the service to catch connecting flights elsewhere.
“The oil patch has settled down, but the airline service is going well for all of us,” Isle said. “It’s a huge benefit. People fly out for business and medical reasons. The elderly love it. They don’t have to drive for their doctor’s appointments.”
To meet federal requirements the city airport has undergone several projects over the past decade: installment of the new aerodrome beacon and airport wind socks; expansion of the terminal for Transportation Security Administration screenings; construction of a fire equipment building and the runway.
Cape Air also serves markets in the northeast, Midwest and Caribbean. Its Montana Essential Air Service predecessors include Big Sky Airlines, Great Lakes Aviation and Silver Airways. Congress created the EAS program after deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s to help small communities maintain regular air service.
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point Federal Credit Union CEO Lester Warby presents Carol Hackley of Wolf Point Pound Puppies with a donation.
Jerald Petersen of Western Bank presents Carol Hackley of Wolf Point Pound Puppies with a donation.
Employees of the banks in Wolf Point and Poplar, and the Wolf Point Federal Credit Union are going ”casual for canines,” by turning casual Fridays into cash for Wolf Point Pound Puppies.
Employees of First Community Bank and Western Bank of Wolf Point and Independence Bank of Poplar, and Wolf Point Federal Credit Union are collecting a dollar at a time from employees so that they can wear jeans on Fridays.
The nonprofit Pound Puppies is a local animal rescue organization that rescues animals from the pound in Wolf Point that have reached the six-day holding limit and finds new homes with local people for some and transports others to animal adoption groups in Montana and North Dakota.
Darla Bradley, president of Wolf Point Pound Puppies, said recently that Pound Puppies has rescued 736 dogs and about 150 cats since the inception of the organization more than three years ago.
First Community Bank in Wolf Point has a “Jeans Day Fund,” to which employees donate $1 on Fridays if they wear jeans to work. The funds are deposited into an account where they accumulate.
The city’s pound has a six-day hold and many dogs have been euthanized in the past because of a lack of space to keep them beyond the six days. Fewer are put down now because Pound Puppies takes as many dogs that have reached the six-day limit as they can accommodate at their homes or can find foster homes for.
Many are taken to organizations in Montana and North Dakota for adoption.
Pound Puppies has survived since its inception in late 2012, through donations from the Wolf Point Lions Club, other donations from organizations and individuals.
For additional information about adoptions, fostering pets and donating to Wolf Point Pound Puppies, contact Tina Bets His Medicine at 650-2177, Darla Bradley at 451-4847 or Carol Hackley at 768-7581.
Written by Herald-News
Agland Co-op held the first of several livestock clinics at the Cenex East store in Wolf Point Saturday, Oct. 3. Dr. Deidre Loendorf, a veterinarian practicing at a large animal clinic in Huntley and originally from Wolf Point, presents about best practices for cattle pre-conditioning and vaccinating. A Hi-Hog livestock equipment demonstration and a barbecue lunch were also provided. (Photo by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
The nation dodged a bullet Wednesday, Sept. 30, with congressional passage of a 10-week funding bill that averts a government shutdown, keeping federal agencies operating and services in place until Dec. 11.
If Congress does not pass a budget by then, another shutdown would cripple government services and force the furloughs of thousands of federal workers across the nation at the end of this calendar year.
If the threatened shutdown had not been avoided last week, local impacts would have halted recreation and federal programs.
The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge would have closed to hunting, fishing access and other recreational uses at all of Fort Peck Lake and parts of the Missouri River, the federal Food Stamp program and other government programs and services would have been suspended, and most federal employees would have been furloughed and others required to work without pay.
President Barack Obama signed the funding bill into law about four hours before the midnight Sept. 30 deadline, which was the end of the fiscal year.
The Senate passed the bill 78-20 earlier on Wednesday. It does not include a controversial provisions to defund Planned Parenthood. Funding Planned Parenthood in the federal budget has irritated some conservative senators, including Tea Party members.
During the October 2013 shutdown that lasted 15 days, about 3.3 million federal law enforcement and other essential employees across the nation remained on the job without pay. According to Standard & Poor’s financial services company, the shutdown cost the U.S. economy about $24 billion.