Wolf Point Herald

County Commission Candidates Respond To Questions

Allen Bowker of Culbertson and Frank Smith of Poplar are running for the District 1 Roosevelt County Commission seat currently held by Jim Shanks, who is not running for reelection. The district covers the eastern part of the county.
Both Bowker and Smith responded to a questionnaire.
Do you intend to be a full-time commissioner? If you are unable to be at the Courthouse in Wolf Point four or five days each week, how do you intend to do the job?
Bowker: I intend to be whatever I have to be, as best I can, to do the job effectively. With technology [smart phones, go-to-meeting.com etc.], this can be helpful but does not really take the place of actually being there. We have recently hired great help and other logistical changes in our sanitation business that will free me up to be an effective commissioner.  I guess to sum it up, I’ll work as smart and as hard as I can while still keeping my modified day job.  
Smith: I believe  that  the Commissioner job is a full-time job and they should be at the office  whenever possible. When the position was first set up, they could handle most business  in one day a week but now with mandates from both federal and state governments, and  demands from the public, it takes up more than the five-day week.
Why did you declare yourself a candidate for commissioner?
Bowker: I feel it would be beneficial for District 1 to be represented by someone a little further east in the county. I have had to deal with these changes and have been in tune with a large percentage of people in this area on a regular basis.
Smith: I declared myself as a candidate because of my experience in both the state Legislature and federal government as an elected official and being on several statewide committees that are in our best interest on roads and schools.
What are the three most important things you hope to accomplish on the commission?
Bowker: 1. Roads, roads, roads! It’s more than an inconvenience, it is a serious safety issue. 2.  Let the people know where the money comes from and how and when it is spent. 3. Establish better communication within the road department.
Smith: There are a lot of important things that need to be addressed and hope to be accomplished. The main one is the roads that were never built for the traffic we now have. Next is to get the drug enforcement money back if we can and lobby our Legislature to get a better flow of money [tax money] back to the communities that need it because wherever there is an increase in population there is a increase in all public services including schools.
What areas do you feel are the most in need of improvement?  How would you address those areas?
Bowker: Roads are my main concern at this point because that is what I have been dealing with in our sanitation business. To take care of the problem, the money needs to be tracked. Where is our money going that should be spent on roads? Communicate this to the people of District 1, pressure and work with the people who can solve the problem. Also, we, [area commissioners, everyone in the county] need to organize and let the legislature know what’s going on here. It’s going to take more than a few people to tell the legislature our concerns, whether by emails to a central website, in person or by phone.
Smith: All the programs are important and I can’t comment on the spending or possible shortfall without reviewing the budget and talking to the directors of the programs.
What areas do you feel have the most and least needs for spending?
Bowker: The area most in need of spending is obviously the roads. It’s more than just an inconvenience, it is a serious safely issue.
Smith: I feel all of our needs are important. That’s why I endorse a good planning board.
If any programs need to be cut in the future due to a budget shortfall, what would you cut first, second and third?
Bowker: To answer that question for me at this point would be not truthful. Any budget cuts, need to be looked at from both sides of the story.
Smith: At this time, I don’t want to comment on possible cuts in programs until I take a good look at our finance records and have the input from the public because all of the programs got where they are for a reason.

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Only One Of Six Legislative Candidates Responds To Questions

Incumbent state representative Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, was the only candidate of six running in three legislative races within the coverage areas of The Herald-News and The Searchlight who responded to a questionnaire that was sent to all local candidates.
Knudsen seeking reelection in House District 34.
Democrat Gene Hartsock of Glasgow is opposing Knudsen. He was contacted by telephone, said he does not use email and provided a home mailing address. Hartsock was sent the questionnaire by U.S. Mail but failed to respond.
In House District 37, incumbent Lee Randall, R-Broadus, is opposed by Democrat Dixie Rieger of Miles City. The district includes parts areas of McCone County that are near Wolf Point.
Randall provides neither a telephone number, nor email address on the list of candidates on the Secretary of State’s website. Attempts to obtain contact information was unsuccessful.
Rieger was sent a questionnaire and a reminder the following week but did not respond.
In Senate District 19, which includes McCone County, Democrat Bill McChesney and Republican Frederick Davis Moore are seeking election. Both are from Miles City. Neither responded to the questionnaire or a reminder sent the following week.
Incumbent state representative Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, is unopposed and was not sent a questionnaire.
The following are Knudsen’s responses:
Why did you declare yourself a candidate?
I am running for re-election because my experience in the Montana Legislature puts me in a position to more effectively represent the citizens of northeast Montana. I initially ran for the Montana Legislature in 2010 because I was unhappy with our area’s representation in Helena.
What do you hope to accomplish during the next term?
For the upcoming legislative session, there are several key pieces of legislation I want to see passed. First and foremost, a northeastern Montana Bakken oilfield infrastructure funding bill needs to be implemented. Last session, I co-sponsored House Bill 218, which would have sent $15 million dollars a year in direct state funding to our oil-impacted counties and towns. That bill passed with enormous bipartisan support, only to be vetoed by our governor. This bill will be run again in 2015. It needs to be for more money, and it needs to signed by the governor.  
Another priority is tax relief. Montana is currently sitting on a $350 million budget surplus. This means the state Department of Revenue took in $350 million more than is needed to fund our state government and its programs. These are tax dollars that are paid by Montanans through their income, property, and business taxes. If the state takes in more taxes than it needs, we should return that money to Montanans by lowering taxes for all Montanans.  
Finally, I will continue to advocate for school choice in Montana. Montana is one of only eight states in the U.S. that still does provide any alternative education options for parents and children. Our public schools in Montana wonderfully serve the needs of most Montana families. However, I believe parents should have alternative choices for those students who aren’t thriving in our public schools. We have choice in all other facets of our life: our food, our clothing, our automobiles, etc. Why is it Montanans are being deprived choice in our childrens’ educations? These are a few of my priorities for the upcoming 2015 legislative session.
What do you see as being the major issues facing the state?
Funding our state employee retirement and our teacher retirement systems is still a major issue in Montana. Last session, the Legislature threw more money at these systems, and played with the numbers in an effort to make these systems amortize. However, these are still $3-4 billion [with a ‘B’] liabilities to the state, which guarantee a benefit [even though the cost of that benefit has skyrocketed] as opposed to simply guaranteeing a dollar amount the state will contribute toward these pensions. While we continue to kick the can down the road, these pension problems will become a major funding issue for our state.  
Another issue that will continue to be discussed in the upcoming session is Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]. Under the Affordable Care Act, states were required by the federal government to expand the qualifications and thereby the number of people who are eligible to receive state medical assistance under Medicaid. The United States Supreme Court later ruled that the federal government could not require state legislatures to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, so this expansion became optional in the individual states. Last legislative session, the state Legislature chose not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. The reason for this is that Medicaid expansion will cost an incredible amount of money. The federal government has promised to pay for this expansion for the first two years, but after that the state will be responsible for paying for more and more of this new Medicaid population. What happens if the federal government breaks its promise and drops this entire bill on Montana immediately? Even if it doesn’t, eventually Montana will have to pay for this entire bill. How? This will be a huge new entitlement that Montana taxpayers will have to foot the bill for. I do not support Medicaid expansion in Montana, and I will continue to fight against Obamacare in Montana.
What areas do you feel are the most in need of improvement? How would you address those areas?
Obviously, our area is in dire need of infrastructure help due to strains put on us by the Bakken oil boom. Outdated and maxed-out sewer systems, municipal water systems stretched to the breaking point, and streets and county roads beaten to ruts and potholes from increased truck traffic; these are all issues that could be addressed by allowing more of the tax dollars created from oil development to stay in the impacted areas.
What areas do you feel have the most and least needs for spending?
As stated above, natural resource development impact has created legitimate need for spending. The state is creating these impacts through our state policy of developing our natural resources; therefore the state is responsible for maintaining the problems that come from this development. I’ve already discussed the sewer, water and road problems, but what about crime from the Bakken? Many of the hardened criminals arrested in our area end up released back on to our streets because the State Crime Lab is understaffed and underfunded and cannot get test results back to our area prosecutors fast enough for trial. This is not our prosecutors’ fault; the Montana Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial, and if drug test results aren’t completed in time for trial, the arrested individual must be released. This is one area that needs additional spending to keep our communities safe.
On the other hand, I believe the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks needs to decrease its spending. This is an agency that, since I have been serving in the Legislature, has increased its budget every year, and continues to purchase private land at inflated prices. Recently, FWP has asked the Legislature to increase the costs of your hunting licenses, because FWP is claiming a budget shortfall. However, that didn’t stop the FWP from purchasing more than 200 new rifles for each of its game wardens, at a cost of nearly $2,000 per rifle. This is an agency that needs its budget reduced.
What is your position on same sex marriage?
I believe that marriage is a Christian institution that is between a man and woman.
What is your position on the Keystone Pipeline?
I support the Keystone XL Pipeline. It will create a huge property tax base for the Montana counties it will pass through. Additionally, the onramp in Baker will allow us to market our local Bakken oil at a higher premium because we can get it in the pipeline, thus reducing transportation costs.
What is your position on the ballot measure calling for an end to Election Day voter registration?
I support this initiative. The current system of allowing people to walk in and register to vote on Election Day creates an administrative nightmare for our local elections administrators. Requiring voters to be responsible for getting themselves registered to vote before election day is not too much to ask. In 2012, elections administrators in Billings were still registering and allowing voting until almost midnight, when nearly all the other polling places in Montana had closed. As a result, election results were delayed for days, and election staff were stretched to their limits. Additionally, I believe the potential for voter fraud is greatly increased by allowing same-day registration. If you’re an election worker, and you have a line of 500 people waiting to register and vote, are you going to check each person’s ID and make sure they haven’t already registered and voted in another location? I support ending same-day voter registration.

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First Presbyterian Church Celebrates Centennial In November

First Presbyterian Church in Wolf Point will celebrate its centennial, Sunday, Nov. 23, with a coffee hour at 4 p.m. The annual Wolf Point Ministerial Association communitywide Thanksgiving service will follow at 5 p.m.
The church will present historical facts about the church during services the first three Sundays in November.
The first Protestant community church built in Wolf Point became First Presbyterian Church in 1914.
The 133-year Presbyterian history on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation began with Rev. George Wood working with the Native American population in 1881 and establishing a mission day school for children in 1883 on the north bank of the Missouri River, about three-quarters of a mile from present-day Wolf Point.
In 1910, Rev. D.E. Evans became the Presbyterian pastor at Poplar and held services in Wolf Point until the fall of 1913.
In May 1914, seminary student F.A. Kirker of Chicago, Ill., came to Wolf Point and held services during the summer in a school and in the Glacier Theater.
At that time, with the arrival of homesteaders, a new Wolf Point was being build at the present town site, away from the original site at the riverbank.
It was also in 1914 that the first Protestant church building was completed at Custer Street and Fourth Avenue South with a $2,000 loan from the Presbyterian Board of National Missions and an additional $1,500. It was first called the Union Church and soon after First Presbyterian, when the Lutherans and Methodists built their own churches in Wolf Point.
The 1914 church building fell into disrepair some 70 years after it was built and was torn down in 1986. The current building was built soon after on the same property.
Now, about 28 years later, the church holds Sunday services at 11 a.m.

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Beach’s Attorney Petitions Supreme Court Seeking Resentencing

A little more than four months after the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole rejected a clemency application from former Poplar resident Barry Beach, his attorney filed a petition asking the Montana Supreme Court to order that he be re-sentenced with consideration that Beach was 17 years old at the time of the offense he was convicted of.
Beach, now 52, was accused of the 1979 beating death of Poplar High School classmate Kim Nees and dumping her body in the Poplar River. He was convicted in 17th District Court in Glasgow in April 1984 and sentenced to 100 years. Beach has maintained his innocence for 35 years.
The Supreme Court petition, filed Thursday, Oct. 23, argues that the 1984 sentence is cruel and unusual, and amounts to a life sentence. The appeal has been reported to be in part based on a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring judges who impose sentences to take into consideration that minors are not as responsible for crimes as adults and more likely than adult offenders to be reformed.
Beach’s attorney, Peter Camiel of Seattle, Wash., said in June there were court options he was considering that included the Montana Supreme Court and the federal court system. He did not elaborate further.
“While we are done with the parole board, we are not done,” Camiel said in June.

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Roosevelt County Jail Roster For Oct. 30

(Editor’s Note: The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office distributes an inmate roster each week with charges and communities of residence to The Herald-News to help keep the public informed and to illustrate that the jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues in the 17-bed facility.)
As of Oct. 27, 17 inmates were housed in the Roosevelt County Jail. Valley County Detention Center was holding two female inmates and the Fort Benton Detention Center was holding three males.
The RCSO reported that the following individuals were incarcerated at the jail between Oct. 21-Oct. 27:
•Adam Alonzo, 31, Williston, N.D./San Bernadino, Calif., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell;
•Malinda Bibb, 31, Minot, N.D., arrested on a warrant for bail condition violation, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Brandon Bigham, 30, Minot, N.D., criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell; criminal possession of dangerous drugs;
•David Ciorrocco, 49, Miami, Fla., driving a motor vehicle while suspended, and displaying fictitious license plates;
•Scott Crain, 27, Froid, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, obstructing a peace officer and misdemeanor criminal mischief;
•Kristy L. Daugherty, 29, Wolf Point, arrested on warrant;
•Joshua Eagle, 20, Poplar, criminal contempt, arrested on a federal warrant, transferred to Great Falls;
•Kyle Fuchs, 32, Culbert-
son, disorderly conduct, partner family member assault, assault with weapon, unlawful restraint, criminal endangerment;
•Alexander Jirone, 33, Rapid City, S.D., criminal endangerment, fleeing or eluding a peace officer, speeding on non-interstate-exceed night speed limit, operating with expired registration, operating without liability insurance;
•Gary Jones, 44, Madisonville, Tenn., assault on a peace officer;
•Dustin Kinzie, 20, Wolf Point, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment, criminal possession with intent to distribute, criminal endangerment;
•Jason Knight, 37, Spokane, Wash., criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Gabriel Lopez, 19, partner/family member assault, released;
•Timothy Oglesby, 31, Hot Springs, Ark., out-of- county warrant;
•Michelle Parker, 41, San Diego, Calif., arrested on bench warrant;
•Jesse Antonio Rodriguez, 20, Wolf Point, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal possession with intent to distribute, criminal endangerment;
•Victor Romero, 47, Wolf Point, disorderly conduct, carrying a concealed weapon;
•Jeremy Sepanski, 30, Plentywood, forgery, theft, obstruction of a peace officer;
•Kelly Severson, 47, Saco, criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia;
•Kalob Trowbridge, 22, Wolf Point, assault on a peace officer;
•Scott Varner, 22, Crawfordville, Fla., criminal possession with intent to distribute;
•Hilrio Velasquez, 33, Riverside, Calif., possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.

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