Written by Herald-News
Influenza finds us in Roosevelt County every year and this year it did so last week, the week of Dec. 14-20. The east end of the county seems to have been hit the hardest as shown by confirmed cases among all ages groups and a marked increase in school absences. What we are seeing here is in sync with what the flu is doing nationally and in the rest of Montana.
Reports are that because of the viruses circulating, the 2014-15 season may be more severe than recent years. If it is a more severe year, then getting a flu shot will be more important than ever.
Even when some circulating viruses are different from the vaccine viruses, which may be the case this year, the CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination.
Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications and their close contacts. (People at high risk include infants, pregnant women, children and adults with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease and adults aged 65 and older.)
See your health care provider or health department because getting a flu shot is still the most effective thing available to prevent the flu.
For more information on influenza go to www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/ or stop by or call Roosevelt County Health Department at 653-6223.
Written by Herald-News
(Editor’s Note: The following blotter is a partial list of activities involving the Wolf Point police and volunteer fire departments between Dec. 15 and 21. All those arrested or cited are presumed innocent.)
5 p.m., officers and firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire on the 200 block of Fairweather Street. A house had filled with smoke from a malfunctioning furnace. The WPVFD responded with one truck, six firefighters and a command vehicle.
7:39 p.m., officers responded to the Yellowstone Villa Apartments for a report of vandalism. Officers took photographs of graffiti in a public hallway. The investigation continued at press time.
10:33 a.m., officers responded to the Yellowstone Villa Apartments for a report of more graffiti in a public hallway.
3:48 p.m., officers responded to Town Pump for a report of a theft of $13 worth of merchandise. Town Pump identified a female suspect and a warrant has been requested.
10:45 p.m., officers responded to the 100 block of Front Street for a report of gunshots or fireworks.
10 p.m., officers responded to the 300 block of Custer Street for a report by a father that two men attempted to assault his adult daughter. The woman would not file charges.
5:23 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Custer Street for a report by a female that her boyfriend assaulted her. He left prior to police arrival. A warrant has been requested.
2 a.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Custer Street for a report by a female that another female assaulted her. The suspect left prior to police arrival.
5:30 p.m., police received a report of a missing 16-year-old girl.
In addition to the above calls, the WPPD responded to the following calls between Dec. 15 and 21: checks of wellbeing, 12; civil standby, two; domestic disturbance, three; public assistance, eight; motor vehicle accidents, two; removal of unwanted individuals, 12; animal complaints, four; medical assistance, four; fire assistance, one; alarm, six; assist other agency, nine; unfounded report, four; fireworks complaint, one; driving complaints, four; school requested assistance, one; and vandalism calls with broken windows, 22.
Written by Jaimee Green
Pictured are members of the Junior Optimist Club at Northside Elementary School giving people free hot chocolate on the gazebo in Sherman Park Dec. 5, The Grinch greeting children at the Elks Club Dec. 5 and Shirley McCrea and great-granddaughter Emma looking at the decorated Christmas trees during the Northeast Montana Health Services Charitable Foundation’s Festival of Trees Dec. 5.
The Northeast Montana Health Services Charitable Foundation’s Festival of Trees - Pictures with Santa - began three years ago as an event to support the foundation in raising funds for the hospitals of NEMHS.
Held in conjunction with the Wolf Point Festival of Lights, the holiday event provided a warm and festive place to gather and visit. The merriment took place at the Wolf Point Elks Club on Dec. 5.
Santa Claus listened to requests from delighted children as they sat and smiled for the camera with glee! Photographs were taken by Nicole Huber Photography and printed by the NEMHS Charitable Foundation volunteers. With over 210 pictures taken in a three-hour time span, the foundation was busy keeping up with the challenging requests of multiple prints per child. “The foundation was in awe of the attendance this year,” said executive director Beth Pickthorn. “It was heartwarming to see the impressive turnout for not just our events, but for the town of Wolf Point and the Festival of Lights”.
The “Season of Giving” lived up to its meaning with fifteen trees being donated by various individuals and businesses. The exquisitely decorated trees were displayed around the lower level dance floor at the Elks for one week before the event. Tickets were sold and a drawing was held. These captivating and creative Christmas trees were donated and designed in an assortment of holiday charm.
An elegant, framed “Vintage Crystal Christmas” tree was donated by Tacy Strand and won by Cindy Berglee. The Wolf Point McDonalds, once again, donated two six-foot trees, decorated with Happy Meal toys. Winner of the boy Happy Meal tree was Jennifer Nasner with Halie Smith taking home the Happy Meal girl tree.
A heavenly “Tree of Angels” was donated by the Wolf Point Optimist Club and won by Shirley McCrea. The popular “Mr. Snowman” tree was contributed by Squires Insurance with the winner being Agland Co-op. Arin Grainger donated the festive “Santa’s Workshop” tree with Natasha Campbell as the winner. The Wednesday Night Quilters assembled the “Sew Vintage” tree and the lucky winner of that tree was Sandy Pipal. The “Surviving Christmas” tree was designed and donated by the Trinity Emergency Medical Services department and the winner was Buckrein. Ashia Wehbe fashioned and donated “A Neon Christmas in Vegas” tree with Aaron Kurokawa being the winner.
The widely admired “Diamond Willow” hanging tree was crafted by Elaine and Jeff Long and taken home by Janice Kegley. The Wolf Point High School District Staff gathered together to make a vibrant “Candy Cane” tree with standing, lit candy canes around it. This tree was won by Craig Rodenberg. “A Glittering Gold” tree was assembled and donated by Clayton Stevenson Memorial Chapel and won by Kelly Dalton. Teaming together and donating the “Native American” tree was Arin Grainger, Mary Nesbit and Rich Peterson and won by CeCe Lambert. The NEMHS Charitable Foundation fabricated two trees this year, one being the “Whimsical” tree with Kerry Hanks being the winner, along with Brad Traeholt winning the second tree designed as a “Mountain Cabin” tree.
While the community mingled throughout the building, they also encountered Dr. Seuss’ Grinch walking around, handing out fun items for the children, and also posing for pictures with admirers. Local EMS and the Marketing Department were also upstairs at the Elks, providing information about suicide prevention, along with complementary trinkets, toys and coloring books for youth.
“The Foundation is so appreciative and grateful to the community for the continued support given to us.” said Mary Nesbit, Chairperson for the NEMHS Charitable Foundation. All proceeds from this event go towards medical services and equipment for the hospitals of Northeast Montana Health Services. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and can be found on the web at www.nemhscharitablefoundation.org.
Written by John Plestina
The future of the 14-year-old cross deputization law enforcement agreement between the city of Wolf Point and the Fort Peck Tribes might be in jeopardy following a decision by the tribes’ executive board not to renew the cross deputization of one city officer.
The tribal decision involves just one officer on the seven-member department and relates to an unspecified alleged incident that is believed to have occurred 17 months ago.
The Wolf Point City Council addressed the matter during the monthly meeting, Monday, Dec. 15, and will schedule a meeting of the city’s Police and Animal Control Committee as soon as possible to address the issue. Representatives of the Fort Peck Tribes will be invited.
FPTDLJ Capt. Jim Summers called Police Chief Jeff Harada Nov. 12 to inform him that the executive board denied WPPD Officer Joey Olson’s application for renewal of cross deputization.
Since that time, the WPPD has had to request assistance from tribal officers where arrests of tribal members were necessary or tickets were issued while Olson was a sole WPPD officer on duty. For now, Olson cannot sign a tribal ticket.
Harada said Summers told him a complaint had been filed by a tribal member. He said he asked Summers to request that the complainant speak to him but that has not happened.
Harada said in a written report he presented to the council, Monday, Dec. 15, that he told Summers if one Wolf Point officer would not be approved for cross deputization, he would terminate the agreement.
“I’d like it to be fair but I don’t want to go backwards,” councilman Rollie Paulson said.
Harada also wrote in the report that tribal councilman Rick Kirn called him Nov. 14 and discussed the necessity of maintaining the cross deputization agreement.
The agreement grants authority to city, tribal and the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies to arrest tribal and non-tribal individuals. At this juncture, all sworn officers of the WPPD have that authority except Olson.
Harada said the tribes have not given a specific reason for not approving Olson, but it might stem from a complaint by a tribal member of an alleged incident during the 2013 Wild Horse Stampede.
Harada said Olson is an outstanding police officer. He said the complaint is unfounded.
“They [Tribes] have not given me written notice of the revocation of Officer Olson or the reason for the complaint,” Harada said.
The city has approved all tribal officers for cross deputization.
Mayor Chris Dschaak said a special meeting of the Police and Animal Control Committee could result in the council coming up with a decision and resolution during the next scheduled meeting Monday, Jan. 19.
Harada said if the cross deputization agreement between the city and tribes is discontinued, municipal officers would have the authority to detain but not arrest tribal members. It would be necessary for FPTDLJ officers to make the arrests and city officers would have to assist tribal officers where they might respond to an incident involving a non-tribal person.
Written by John Plestina
A recent announcement of grant funding to the Wolf Point School District for early childhood education has increased the likelihood that the preschool program will return for Wolf Point children.
In May, the school board voted 4-1 to eliminate the preschool program for the school year that began in August and approved $296,309 in additional cuts, including teachers and other jobs. The cuts were in response to financial difficulties the school district has faced, voter rejection of two levies and substantial legal fees the district incurred from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union that resulted in mandated redistricting before trustees are elected next year necessitated the cuts.
Eliminating the preschool program, which is largely funded by federal Title VII funds, saved the district annual costs of about $120,000.
Board chairman Martin DeWitt voted against cutting the preschool program.
Gov. Steve Bullock and state school superintendent Denise Juneau announced, Wednesday, Dec. 10, that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded Montana a $10 million-a-year competitive federal preschool development grant that would expand access to high-quality early childhood education in Wolf Point and 15 other school districts statewide that have demonstrated the need. None of the other communities are in northeastern Montana. The grant can be renewed for up to four years, for a maximum of $40 million awarded.
The grant provides support for school districts to improve professional and program development, including scholarships for early childhood educators.
Superintendent Joe Paine said he didn’t know how much the district would receive.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen during this school year,” he said.
“It will definitely benefit Wolf Point if the board chooses to reinstate preschool,” Paine said. “It was a very tough decision not to reinstate preschool this year.”
“We are a school that participates in the Montana Striving Readers grant project,” Paine said.
The Montana Striving Reader’s Project is intended to improve literacy for all students and to provide support systems for school districts and preschool programs.
The grant will build on successful early literacy programs statewide. The programs will serve as models and mentors for new programs that are added over the course of the grant. The Office of Public Instruction and the Department of Health and Human Services will provide technical assistance to school districts.
The grant complements Bullock’s Early Edge initiative, which aims to make voluntary, publicly funded, high-quality early childhood education for four-year-olds available throughout Montana. In his budget, Bullock requested $37 million to fund the initiative.
Bullock proposed the “Early Edge” program early this year to fund early-childhood education statewide. Bullock plans to submit the proposal to the 2015 Legislature.
Bullock’s proposal calls for expanding access to pre-kindergarten programs among low-income families, improving standards for early-childhood education providers, strengthening the early-childhood workforce and preparing all children for kindergarten.
Montana is currently one of eight states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds.