Written by John Plestina
(Editor’s Note: The following blotter is a partial list of activities involving the Wolf Point police and volunteer fire departments between June 1 and 7. All those arrested or cited are presumed innocent.)
3:20 a.m., firefighters responded to the 800 block of West Cascade Street and extinguished a fire in a couch in the yard.
4:31 a.m., officers responded to the 400 block of Fifth Avenue North for a report of suspicious individuals in the area. The incident remains under investigation.
3:09 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of a shoplifter and detained Jolysa M. Jones, 25, of Glasgow. She was cited for theft and released.
7:43 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of First Avenue South for a report of an intoxicated female and arrested Jessica Eder, 33, of Wolf Point for disorderly conduct.
10:01 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of a beer theft. The incident remains under investigation.
10:27 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of harassment of a store employee. The incident remains under investigation.
2 p.m., officers responded to the 400 block of Eureka Street for a report of a theft from a residence. Charges are pending against a Wolf Point male.
11:04 p.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Granville Street for an incident that was first reported as a medical emergency. Officers later realized an assault had occurred. A 38-year-old male was transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus with life-threatening injuries and flown by air ambulance to a larger hospital. Officers arrested Sonja
Redelk, 43, of Wolf Point for aggravated assault.
1:42 a.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of harassment of a store employee. The incident remains under investigation.
1:51 a.m., officers responded to Northern Lights Casino for a report of vandalism to a vehicle and arrested John Lieba, 19, of Wolf Point for criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
9:14 p.m., officers conducted a traffic stop on the 100 block of Granville Street and arrested Elliot Eder, 35, of Wolf Point on a warrant.
9:25 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Benton Street for a report of suspicious activity in the area. The incident remains under investigation.
7:20 a.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Front Street for a report of a theft from a vehicle. The incident remains under investigation.
1:08 p.m., officers responded to the 100 block of First Avenue South for a report of a stolen vehicle. The incident remains under investigation.
1:53 a.m., officers responded to a disturbance on the 200 block of Main Street and separated a large group of people in front of Dad’s Bar. Charges may be filed against several individuals.
6:48 a.m., officers responded to the 800 block of Fourth Avenue North for a report of vandalism to a vehicle. The incident remains under investigation.
10 a.m., officers responded to the 400 block of Fallon Street and cited Deb Jensen, 62, of Wolf Point for dog at large.
1 p.m., officers responded to Southside School for a report of a theft. Missing items were recovered. No charges were filed.
5:11 p.m., officers responded to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus for a report of a theft of personal property. The incident remains under investigation.
11:46 p.m., officers responded to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus for a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area. The incident remains under investigation.
11:48 p.m., officers responded to the 100 block of Custer Street for a report of a disturbance in progress and cited Brandy Black, 30, of Wolf Point for criminal mischief.
1:10 a.m., officers responded to Dad’s Bar for a report of a fight in progress. The individuals fled prior to police arrival. The incident remains under investigation.
1:14 a.m., officers responded to the Elks Club and arrested Billy Escarcega, 27, of Wolf Point on a warrant.
4:01 a.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Dawson Street for a report of a disturbance and arrested Jared Moran, 26, of Wolf Point on a warrant.
6:34 a.m., officers responded to the 600 block of Second Avenue South for a report of a disturbance in progress and arrested George Flynn, 23, of Wolf Point for disorderly conduct and simple assault.
1:57 p.m., officers responded to the 100 block of Granville Street for a report of a motor vehicle accident with no reported injuries and cited a 16-year-old Wolf Point female for driving without a driver’s license, driving without liability insurance and a right-of-way violation.
3:51 p.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Eureka Street for a report of a domestic disturbance in progress. Charges are pending against a 25-year-old Wolf Point male.
8:20 p.m., officers conducted a pedestrian stop on the 200 block of Benton Street and arrested Slater Reum, 18, of Wolf Point on a warrant.
8:26 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of harassment of a store employee. The incident remains under investigation.
8:27 p.m., officers conducted a traffic stop on the 300 block of First Avenue South and cited Trey Miller, 21, of Wolf Point for driving under the influence.
12:02 a.m., officers responded to the 400 block of Custer Street for a report of a disturbance in progress and arrested Robert Lowdog, 38, of Wolf Point on a warrant.
12:50 a.m., officers responded to the area of Albertson’s for a report of a domestic dispute. Charges are pending against a Poplar male.
9:17 a.m., officers responded to Lucky Lil’s Casino for a report of a theft from a patron. Charges are pending against a Wolf Point male.
2:50 p.m., firefighters responded to a small grass fire east of Wolf Point near the Cowboy Palace.
6:13 p.m., firefighters responded to the 100 block of Idaho Street for a small grass fire.
7:50 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Dayton Street for a report of a suspicious male and arrested Tyson Blackeagle, 30, of Wolf Point for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and eluding.
9:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a small grass fire near Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus.
10:57 p.m., officers responded to the 200 block of Eureka Street for a report of a theft from a residence with a loss valued under $1,000. The incident remains under investigation.
In addition to the above calls, the WPPD responded to the following calls between June 1 and 7: checks of wellbeing, 12; civil standby, four; domestic disturbance, 12; public assistance, 18; removal of unwanted individuals, 12; animal complaints, three; medical assistance, four; alarm, two; assist other agency, six; unfounded reports, 11; fireworks complaint, five; driving complaints, three; school requested assistance, one.
Written by John Plestina
In the first photo, Gov. Steve Bullock chats with elder Pearl Nation of Poplar at the Fort Peck Tribes’ Buffalo Range Surveillance Pasture north of Poplar, Wednesday, May 27. The second picture is Bullock signing the youth suicide prevention bill at the Bufflao Range. Seated are: (from left to right) Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point; the tribes’ vice chairwoman Patt Iron Cloud; Bullock; the tribes chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne; Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder; (standing) the tribes Language and Culture Department program director Ramey Growing Thunder; Executive Board member Roxanne Gourneau; and Executive Board member Ed Bauer. (Photos by John Plestina)
The Fort Peck Tribes hosted Gov. Steve Bullock at the Tribes’ buffalo range surveillance pasture north of Poplar Wednesday, May 27, for a ceremonial signing of legislation expanding Native American youth suicide prevention efforts.
Joined by tribal leadership, Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, and others, Bullock signed the measure passed during the recently ended legislative session to expand efforts to offset the growing problem of suicide among Indian youth.
The legislation provides $250,000 over the next biennium to bolster Indian youth suicide prevention efforts in Montana.
According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 30.5 percent American Indians students in urban schools have seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months, and 20.6 percent of American Indian students in urban schools have attempted suicide.
“This community isn’t unique in that it has been hit by loss of life. Each loss of life touches the entire state,” Bullock said.
“We know the statistics too well,” he said.
Those statistics include that Montana has ranked in the top five in the nation for youth suicides over the last 30 years.
“I certainly commend leaders here for what they have done and continue to,” Bullock said.
Tribal Executive Board member Roxanne Gourneau spoke about how youth suicide impacted her family when a close family member took his live.
“I celebrate this day,” Gourneau said.
“Let’s put it on the table. Let’s talk about it,” she said. “We don’t want to be No. 1 in suicides anymore.”
Buffalo grazed in the distance as Bullock penned his signature to the bill.
The signing was held at the site where bison from the Yellowstone National Park herd that was quarantined on Ted Turner’s ranch near Bozeman was transferred to the care of the tribes in November 2014.
Fort Peck Tribes Chairman A.T. “Rusty” Stafne thanked Bullock and state Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, who was present for the signing, for their efforts that led to the transfer of the herd to the Fort Peck Reservation.
“Without your help, they [the bison] wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Written by John Plestina
Justice Firemoon of Poplar sings during the KVCK Country Showdown in the Wolf Point High School auditorium in July 2014. (File photo, John Plestina)
Justice Firemoon wants to be the first woman from the Fort Peck Reservation to win the Miss Montana Pageant since Yvonne Dehner won the year Firemoon was born ― 1994.
Firemoon, 20, of Poplar will be the sole representative from the Hi-Line among 14 contestants vying for the title of Miss Montana in Glendive. The pageant begins Thursday, June 11, with the crowning Saturday, June 13.
There is far more than bragging rights for the winner. If Firemoon becomes Miss Montana, she will represent the state in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., in September.
“Oh gosh I sure hope so,” Firemoon said of the possibility she could be the lucky winner.
She has been working to prepare for the Miss Montana Pageant.
“I lost 20 pounds. I’ve studied like crazy. I’m so ready,” Firemoon said.
She said there are things she must know, including that each point on the Miss Montana crown means something.
Firemoon is better prepared this year having competed for the Miss Montana crown in 2013.
“The first time I was 18, just out of high school. I was a little naive,” she said. “I made the top seven.”
Firemoon’s family is helping her by doing fundraisers to cover entry fees.
Becoming Miss Montana has rewards.
Dehner is today a physician in California.
“So that just goes to show what a push the pageant can give,” Firemoon said.
She is the daughter of Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board member Marva Chapman-Firemoon and Thomas Firemoon.
Firemoon is a Poplar High School graduate. She went to Wolf Point High School her freshman year.
Firemoon has worked at Independence Bank in Poplar almost three years.
She attended Montana State University Billings for one semester and hopes to eventually return to college.
A talented singer, Firemoon has competed in the KVCK Country Showdown several times, including last year. She said she hopes to compete this year, but doesn’t know if she will be able to.
Written by John Plestina
Nearly four months after the arduous process began of negotiating new labor agreements between the Wolf Point School District and the two unions that represent district employees, the two sides reached a verbal accord following nearly four hours of negotiations Thursday, May 28.
The verbal agreement for one-year contracts came during the second meeting between representatives of the new school board and the Wolf Point Education Association, which represents teachers, and the Wolf Point Educational Support Staff Association, which represents non-certified school staff, including paraprofessional aids, office staff, custodians and cafeteria workers.
A caveat is that both unions must meet with a majority of their memberships voting to accept the agreement before the full school board holds a special meeting to ratify the contracts on Thursday, June 4.
The key to the verbal settlement was forming a health insurance pool for eligible district employees [including members of both unions] that would reduce the projected cost of providing insurance to all teachers and full-time classified [non-teaching] employees that work at least 30 hours each week. Under the new agreement, the district will pay individual and family health insurance but there will be no health savings accounts and single employees will have to pay $2,600 deductible out of their pockets and those with family coverage would have to meet $5,200 deductible.
Superintendent Joe Paine said if the two sides do not have an agreement in place by Thursday, June 4, 30 classified employees who do not currently have insurance would not be covered for the next school year.
“If we wouldn’t have pooled our insurance together, we wouldn’t have been able to do that,” Paine said.
“It’s a benefit to all parties,” he said. “The employees are taking care of each other.”
Paine said he looked at an insurance pool the Glasgow School District has in place.
“I found the idea real intriguing,” he said.
The school district and representatives of both unions initially agreed to the district’s original offer to pay $937.50 per month for health insurance coverage for every participating employee, with the funds going into an insurance pool. But, with both unions participating in a single pool, higher employer contributions became necessary. The district agreed to pay $1,044 per month for every participating employee. The result would be that monies paid for insurance for single individuals would help pay for family coverage for other employees. The original proposal with no insurance pool would have left employees with families having to pay part of the premiums.
Before an agreement was reached, the WPESSA was asking for the district to pay $1,356 per month for every employee to purchase whatever coverage they wish.
Neither side had waivered on the $418.50 difference until last week.
The school district is asking both unions to research alternative insurance carriers for the 2016-2017 school year.
The school district and unions have not been in agreement on a possible change of health insurance carriers. The district is renewing coverage for one year with the current provider, the Montana Unified School Trust [M.U.S.T.]. That coverage has been called expensive.
Other points of the proposed contracts agreed upon include the WPESSA dropping a demand for longevity raises that could have left the district having to give some longtime employees raises of as much as $8,000 per year. The three classified employees who have worked for the district over 21 years will each receive one additional day of personal leave.
The 15 12-month classified employees will each receive a 25-cent per hour raise.
The district and the WPESSA had not been agreement about pay for paraprofessional aides that substitute when teachers are absent and substitute teachers are not available.
Under the new agreement, paraprofessionals will receive an additional $30 for each day they are used as a substitute. Substitute teachers who are not on the WPSD staff receive $100 per day.
Most of the unsuccessful negotiations had been with the former school board. The entire six-member board was up for election May 5 due to federal court mandated redistricting creating five single-member districts and one at-large position. Five of the six former board members did not seek election in single-member districts. Former assistant board chair Jaronn Boysun was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection.
The new board members are Brandon Babb, Lanette Clark, LaRae Hanks, Linda Hansen, Mark Kurokawa and Corey Reum.
Representatives of the former school board began meeting with union representatives in February with lingering stalemates over how much the school district would contribute for employee health insurance and wages. Two unsuccessful rounds of mediation with a Montana Department of Labor and Industry mediator failed to produce an agreement with the WPESSA. The WPEA did not participate in the mediation process.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners reluctantly voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with a Bismarck, N.D., architect to design the new county jail Friday, May 29.
The county was required to use a selection process based on points for each of four architectural firms that were finalists.
The commissioners complied with a requirement to apply for an interest-free loan from the United States Department of Agriculture that could offset the cost of construction of the jail. The maximum amount the loan could be is $5 million. If the county receives the loan at no interest, it would offset the amount owed for bond repayment.
Architects Klien McCarthy came out on top in the point selection process.
“I didn’t feel that the selection process ― the scoring process ― returned the results we wanted,” commission presiding officer Duane Nygaard said.
“We did what we did so we will be eligible for a grant,” he said.
“In order to comply with the feds, we don’t have a choice,” commissioner Gary Macdonald said.
He said the county would allow Klien McCarthy to make an offer.
“If we feel it is high cost-wise or the service is not what we expect, then we can offer it to No. 2 on the list,” Macdonald said.
The second highest finisher in the point selection process was Stevenson Design of Miles City.
The other two of the four architectural firms were Slate Architecture of Bozeman and Epic of Williston, N.D.