Written by Herald-News
Children from Fort Peck Tribes Head Start held a Red Ribbon Week walk along Main Street in Wolf Point Monday, Oct. 26. Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to commit to drug prevention, education and a personal commitments to live drug free lives.
(Photo by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
The bus and car involved in the collision are shown at Fifth Avenue North and Cascade Street shortly after the collision. In the second photo, NEMHS EMS supervisor John Carlbom checks the driver of the car while the ambulance was en route. (Photos by John Plestina)
None of the six students that were on board the school bus that collided with a car on Wolf Point's north side Wednesday, Oct. 28, were injured, according to the Wolf Point School District.
The collision was reported at 7:53 a.m.
Wolf Point Police Sgt. Ryan Michaelsen said the 1999 Bluebird school bus driven by a 50-year-old Vida man was traveling southbound on the 400 block of Fifth Avenue North and a 1999 Toyota Camry driven by a 35-year-old Poplar woman was westbound on Cascade Street when the car and bus collided in the middle of the intersection of Fifth Avenue North and Cascade Street.
"The car was t-boned by the school bus," Michaelsen said.
Authorities had not publicly identified either driver by Thursday morning as the crash remained under investigation with charges pending.
The bus had just dropped off children at Northside School when the collision occurred, injuring the driver of the Toyota who was taken by ambulance to the Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She was alone in the car.
The bus is owned by the driver, an independent contractor, is registered in McCone County and contracted with the WPSD. The students on board the bus are from northern McCone County and along Montana Hwy. 13 in Roosevelt County.
Wolf Point School District superintendent Gary Scott said the students that were riding the bus at the time of the crash were five Wolf Point Junior/Senior High School students and one younger child who attends Southside Elementary School.
The bus sustained minor damages including a bent bumper.
Written by John Plestina
Benjamin Franklin said death and taxes were the only two things certain in life. That might ring true for many Roosevelt County taxpayers that are experiencing sticker shock with tax bills that are being mailed this week.
Montana law requires that tax bills be mailed by Oct. 31, allowing 30 days for the first half of the new tax bill to become due. That first half is due Monday, Nov. 30.
Virtually every property owner in Roosevelt County who is eligible to receive a tax bill will see a substantial increase. The percentages of the increases range from severe heartburn for some homeowners to a 10 on the pain scale for others.
“I have one lady that just bought a house and hers was way different than mine,” Roosevelt County treasurer Betty Romo said.
That begs the question: Why?
A major reason is that the Montana Department of Revenue conducted a statewide tax reappraisal during fall 2014. Current mill values are driven by taxable values determined by the MDR. Taxable values are market values of individual pieces of property times the tax rate for the property.
The revaluation resulted in Roosevelt County real estate values increasing substantially, but more so in Culbertson and Bainville, which are Bakken Oilfield-impacted. In Wolf Point, property values more than doubled for some homeowners, increased only slightly for others and remained static for some.
A chart for possible changes in market value in Roosevelt County that was provided by the MDR in September 2014, shows a 43.53 percent increase in median home prices in Roosevelt County, but MDR Region 2 manager Charles Pankratz told The Herald-News 13 months ago that the increase is driven by the east end of the county, much more so than Wolf Point and Poplar.
Taxable values increased to $1,617,237 with the market value for Wolf Point real estate increasing from $41,314,358 in 2014 to $90,281,581 this year. The mill value increased by a little more than $300 to $1,617 per mill.
What are known as city specials contributed to higher tax bills for properties located within the city limits of Wolf Point.
The Wolf Point City Council adopted the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget with doubled assessments Aug. 31.
The mill levy was set at 218.02, amounting to $352,534.
With grant and reserve funding not available to make needed repairs to several streets, the separate street and street maintenance assessments increased 100 percent to fund street construction projects. Street maintenance jumped from $39.60 to $79.20 and the street fund increased by $77.28 to $154.56.
There are no increases for water, sewer and garbage.
The city budget includes funding for an additional police officer, which the city is currently advertising for. Increases in the numbers of calls for police services were cited before the budget was passed. City officers responded to 27 percent more calls for service in June than they did for the same period last year.
Wolf Point is seeing a decrease in the oil, gas, coal and natural resources distribution from the state to county and municipal governments.
For the last quarter, a total of $67,555 went to various governmental entities in Roosevelt County with Wolf Point receiving $24,212.
Voter approval in November 2014 authorized the Roosevelt County Commissioners to issue and sell up to $11.86 million in general obligation bonds to be repaid within 20 years for a new county jail to replace the current outdated and under-sized jail that does not meet current state and national jail standards.
The commissioners levied 19.41 mills for the jail assessment. The dollar amount varies for different properties.
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. Some inmates have been housed in jails in other counties, resulting in a drain of tax dollars. That and a continuing threat of lawsuits forced the county commissioners to seek voter approval to build a new jail.
“The nice thing about the jail is it’s assessed to everyone in the county,” Romo said.
Other drivers for higher tax bills are Roosevelt County and the Wolf Point and Frontier school districts, all of which adopt their own budgets.
Wolf Point School District trustees adopted the 2015-2016 elementary and high school budgets Aug. 10. The combined budgets include a minimal mill levy increase that might result in a small tax hike for property owners.
The total of 10 funds in the elementary school budget total $5,203,476 for 2015-2016, an increase from last year’s $5,103,787. The mill levy increases from 122.17 to 124.36.
The total high school budget will be $3,622,801 for 2015-2016, up from $3,449,560 in 2014-2015. In contrast to the elementary mill levy, the high school mill levy decreases from 95.18 last year to 91.87 for 2015-2016.
Written by John Plestina
Beastie,” the creepy clown with his brain cone, is flanked by Northeast Montana Health Services EMS director John Carlbom (left) and NEMHS RN Tacy Strand. (Photo by John Plestina)
Freddie Krueger’s nursery rhyme will greet all comers to the haunted house at First Lutheran Church on the 400 block of Johnson Street Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31.
“One, Two Freddy’s coming for you,
Three, Four, better lock your door,
Five, Six, grab your crucifix,
Seven, Eight, gonna stay up late,
Nine, Ten never sleep again.”
Student volunteers from Wolf Point High School are putting Freddie’s poem on a sheet that all arrivals at the haunted house will see before they tour the several rooms on the second floor of the church.
With a change of venue to allow more space, the Northeast Montana Health Services EMTs are promising a pair of fright nights to scare people of all ages. At the very least, it’s guaranteed to scare teenagers and be better than a scary movie for Halloween.
Several WPHS speech and drama program students are adding theatrics to make the haunted house even scarier. Other WPHS students are volunteering in various capacities.
The WPHS students, NEMHS employees and other volunteers have been working all week to make the haunted house a successful fundraiser for the new food pantry.
“They can walk into the foyer area, throw in their food donation and stay out of the cold,” NEMHS EMS director John Carlbom said.
“This is not for young or fearful children. If they’re 10 and they are fearful, they should not come,” NEMHS RN Tacy Strand said.
“It might not be appropriate for the little kids unless the parents want to go through first and judge,” Carlbom said.
Young children need to be accompanied by an adult.
NEMHS emergency medical staff is spearheading the fundraiser.
People are asked to bring canned or other non perishable food as a donation to Food Pantry Inc., and to pay a nominal admission to offset the cost of putting on the haunted house.
The new food pantry opened in September in the former Boys and Girls Club building on the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue South.
Food donations are needed, as the food pantry was running out of food at the end of the first full month of operation.
Originally planned to be held at the food pantry, the venue was changed to allow for more space than is available at the food pantry.
Natasha Kemp of the Roosevelt County Health Department Tobacco Use Prevention Program will have a booth.
The haunted house will be open two hours Friday, Oct. 30, from 9 to 11 p.m., and fours hours on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m., for a four-hour Halloween fright night.
Written by Eric Killelea
Roosevelt County deputy attorney Jordan W. Knudsen has resigned to seek employment in private practice in Yellowstone County.
Knudsen gave county commissioners his letter of resignation two weeks ago, with an effective date of Tuesday, Oct. 27.
“In life, we are face with many difficult decisions and leaving this office was one of my hardest,” Knudsen wrote. “My wife and I are making a change in residence and I will be seeking employment in the realm of private practice. I am grateful for the experience that I have gained from working in this office.”
Knudsen, who is the brother of attorney and Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, has been deputy county attorney since 2013.
Roosevelt County Attorney Ralph J. Patch said Jordan Knudsen prosecuted civil and criminal cases throughout the county and worked on contracted cases in the cities of Wolf Point, Poplar and Culbertson.
“I hate to see him go. He is an outstanding attorney,” said Patch, who noted that his office has experienced a steady caseload in the past several years. “It’s not letting up.”
Officials in Roosevelt County are now seeking to hire a new deputy county attorney at $7,264.21 per month and $87,170.56 per year.