Written by John Plestina
One of the three Wolf Point men the state has an alleged marijuana growing and distribution case against pleaded guilty in 15th District Court Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Dustin Wayne Kinzie, 20, withdrew previously entered not guilty pleas and pleaded guilty under a plea agreement to criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
District Judge David Cybulski ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and allowed Kinzie’s bond to be reinstated. He had been free on bond, but was returned to jail for violating bail conditions.
Roosevelt County Attorney’s criminal investigator Tiara Erwin said Kinzie admitted to drug use while free on bond.
Kinzie admitted in court that he had more than 60 grams of marijuana in his possession several months ago when he was caught.
Kinzie was one of six people arrested following a joint operation by the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice and
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in county and tribal officers entering Kinzie’s residence with a search warrant Tuesday, Oct. 14.
The officers found five marijuana plants, grow equipment, about one half pound of marijuana packaged in one-ounce baggies in a backpack, two ounces of marijuana in a black air vault, several pipes and bongs, several digital scales, small unopened jeweler’s bags that are commonly used to package drugs, marijuana seeds, paraphernalia, a .25 caliber pistol, an empty box and receipt for a Mossberg pump shotgun, $783 in cash and marijuana growing equipment, according to the charging documents.
Felony state charges were also filed against Dougal McMorris, 19, and Pryce Paulson, 20, both of Wolf Point. Kinzie, McMorris and Paulson were arraigned in 15th District Court Wednesday, Nov. 12.
Kinzie’s house is on the 400 block of Custer Street, across from Southside Elementary School.
Assistant Roosevelt County Attorney Jordan Knudsen said in November that Montana law allows for a separate felony charge for dealing drugs near a school. So far, additional charges have not been filed.
Criminal possession with intent to sell, gun complicity with a drug crime, felony child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia charges were filed in Fort Peck Tribal Court in the same case against Arlyn “A.J.” Headdress Jr., Tyler Nygaard, and Nevaeh Yellowrobe, all of Wolf Point.
So far, no federal charges have been filed against anyone charged in the case.
The charges against Kinzie were amended. He pleaded not guilty in November to criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal endangerment.
At that time, McMorris pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to sell, criminal production/manufacture of dangerous drugs, criminal endangerment, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Paulson pleaded not guilty to felony criminal production or manufacture of dangerous drugs.
So far, McMorris and Paulson have not entered into plea agreements.
Written by John Plestina
The Roosevelt County Commissioners authorized the hiring of a legislative lobbyist in Helena at a cost of $12,000 to push for approval of bills that could have financial impacts locally Tuesday, Feb. 17.
E.J. Redding of the Helena firm of M & B Strategies will focus on bills that could make funding available for road repairs and the new jail.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said if grant funding could be secured for part of the cost of the jail, the county would not have to bond for as much money.
“It’s think it’s a good move,” he said.
“That’s going to be money well spent,” Commissioner Allen Bowker said.
In other business, the commissioners approved the purchase of a 2005 Chevrolet 3500 extended cab flatbed truck from High Plains Motors for $13,500.
The commissioners also authorized the purchase from Acme Tools of a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle for the weed board for $18,291.
Written by John Plestina
A bird paid the ultimate price for knocking out the power to Wolf Point Friday, Feb. 13.
The bird flew into the substation on the north side of U.S. Hwy. 2 about two miles west of Wolf Point and was electrocuted as it blew out the fuses for the power that goes to Montana-Dakota Utilities service in Wolf Point.
“A bird flew into it and got between two phases,” Craig Herbert, manager of Norval Electric Co-op in Glasgow, said.
“What we’re trying to figure out is why the fuses didn’t go out on our side [Valley County],” he said.
“It just blew out fuses. We have not found any other [blown] fuses,” Herbert said.
“No matter how much you insulate the parts, they [birds and small animals] always find that one part you didn’t get to,” he said.
Power went out throughout Wolf Point about 10 a.m. and affected the area of town to about Montana Hwy. 13 The outage lasted about two hours.
Norval, MDU, Western Area Power Administration and McCone Electric Co-op share the substation.
Written by John Plestina
How low can it go?
Tanking crude oil prices have benefited consumers by dropping gasoline prices at the pumps to their lowest levels in years, but have also put the economy in eastern Montana and North Dakota in peril.
Prices at the pumps in Wolf Point bottomed recently at $1.97.9 and are holding a little above the $2 mark. Gasbuddy.com reported Monday, Feb. 16, that the average pump price for regular gas in Montana was $1.94.9, based on pump prices in Billings. Salt Lake City, Utah, had the lowest pump price at $1.86.4.
It’s nice to not have to pay about $100 to fill up at the pumps, but there is an economic downside.
Is the current oil boom ending?
There are too many variables to answer that question at the current time.
When crude prices were high, there was a spike in the populations of several eastern Montana communities including Culbertson, Bainville and Froid that were impacted along with Bakken communities in North Dakota. The population increases impacted school districts with spikes in enrollments, needs for construction and school district-owned affordable housing to attract and retain teachers that don’t earn oil field wages. Real estate and rental prices increased significantly, making housing unaffordable for some people in eastern Roosevelt County.
Now, with fewer drilling rigs operating, and some people laid off in some places in the Bakken and other parts of the country, it begs the question: How low will crude oil prices go?
U.S. crude prices were reported at $52.78 at the beginning of this week. Prices have recently fluctuated above and below $50, a decrease from about $75 per barrel in December, and down from around $100 per barrel since 2010. Analysts at Citigroup predicted last week that crude oil prices could dip to $20 a barrel before there is a recovery. Could that severely crimp the Bakken style?
Some questions that cannot be answered at this time include would tumbling oil prices threaten U.S. oil production and possibly cause a stock market crash.
The process of fracking through rock and using horizontal drilling to retrieve crude is costly and it is not known how far prices could fall before most shale oil, which may account for up to 55 percent of U.S. production, becomes unprofitable.
A possible end to the oil boom would result in a decline in population in some communities. If the oil boom ends, would that signal a reality check for the real estate and rental markets in eastern Roosevelt County and other parts of eastern Montana and North Dakota?
On a positive note, a sharp decrease in the number of oilfield workers in the Bakken could drive away some [or hopefully all] of the people who came to the Bakken seeking their fortunes selling meth and other drugs to oilfield workers. The Roosevelt County Jail is full of drug offenders that are not from this area and others who call Williston, N.D., home but are actually from other parts of the country.
Written by Herald-News
Ernie Carlson of Prairie Elk Roofing (right) recently made a $250 donation to the Wolf Point Elks Lodge No. 1764 to assist with the lodge’s efforts to improve the facility, specifically to assist with offsetting the cost of needed electrical work. He made the donation to Elks trustee Darla Downs.