Written by John Plestina
Pictured in order areteachers Amber Clark, Ashley Fulbright, Russell Johnson and principal Greg Gourneau.
Frontier Elementary School is welcoming a new principal and three teachers this school year.
Former Poplar Middle School social studies teacher Greg Gourneau has joined the Frontier staff as principal.
He taught at PMS for four years and was previously a teacher at Brockton School.
Gourneau grew up in Poplar, graduated from Poplar High School and currently lives in Poplar.
“My plan is to continue the academic tradition they have here at Frontier and making sure students have the skills to move up to the next level,” Gourneau said.
Amber Clark is the only one of the three new teachers at Frontier who grew up in Wolf Point.
The kindergarten teacher is the daughter of former Frontier teacher Ann Wienke.
Clark went to Southside and Northside elementary schools, and Wolf Point High School. She went to college in Bismarck, N.D., Missoula and Bozeman.
Ashley Fulbright is a little more than three months out of Montana State University and beginning her first teaching job at Frontier.
She is teaching fourth grade.
Fulbright was born and raised in Bozeman.
“One of my biggest goals is that I have a very engaging class,” Fulbright said.
Russell Johnson is also new to Frontier Elementary School. Beginning his second teaching job, he is the K-8 music teacher.
Johnson, a University of Montana graduate, previously taught two years in Glasgow.
He is from Missoula.
“I’m happy to be here,” Johnson said.
Written by John Plestina
The Wolf Point City Council adopted the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget as presented with doubled assessments during a special meeting Monday, 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 street and street maintenance assessments will increase 100 percent to fund street construction projects. Street maintenance will jump from $39.60 to $79.20 and the street fund will increase by $77.28 to $154.56. The total increase for the two assessments will be $116.99.
The Montana Department of Revenue conducted a new tax evaluation statewide during fall 2014. It resulted in Roose-velt County real estate values increasing substantially, but more so in Culbertson and Bainville, which are Bakken Oilfield-
impacted. In Wolf Point, taxes doubled for some homeowners, increased only slightly for others and remained static for some.
Taxable values went up 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 requiring the city to levy fewer mills this year.
There will be a decrease of 61.99 mills for levied funds, but an increase of $10,362 in tax dollars.
Wolf Point’s clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum said that while there could be a reduction in taxes for individual taxpayers, the assessment increases will drive the total each property owner in the city pays.
Other drivers for higher tax bills are Roosevelt County and the Wolf Point and Frontier school districts, all of which adopt their own budgets. Taxes for all taxing entities appear on tax bills that are mailed at the end of October. Voter approval in November 2014 authorized the 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.
There are no increases for city water, sewer and garbage.
The city budget includes funding for an additional officer for the police department. Increases in the numbers of calls for police services have been cited. City officers responded to 27 percent more calls for service in June than they did for the same period last year. Police chief Jeff Harada said he would begin advertising for the position immediately.
The city 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.
Written by John Plestina
When municipal officials presented the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget and assessment increases during a public hearing before the Wolf Point City Council Wednesday, Aug. 26, one taxpayer told the council he was opposed to doubling the street assessments.
While city taxes might not go up, two assessments will double to fund street repairs and repaving with no grant funding available and inadequate reserve funding to pay for the projects.
Municipal officials defended the need to double assessments.
“We had to do something. We had to raise the rates,” mayor Chris Dschaak said. “The money that we have now is not sufficient to do anything.”
He said if the people of Wolf Point want their streets done and done professionally, professionals must be hired.
City resident Bill Juve said he disagreed with everything Dschaak said and suggested that the street department could do the work with equipment, materials and funds the city currently has available.
“What do we need a city workforce for if we’re going to hire everything done?” Juve asked.
Dschaak countered that the street maintenance department lacks enough qualified employees and that there has been difficulty finding new employees and retaining help.
“We’d have to hire a street paving crew,” Dschaak said. He added that the public works department also has responsibilities for minor street repairs, parks and the swimming pool.
Public Works director Rick Isle said employees have left for better jobs.
He also said employees had to cover for vacations during the summer and the department had two inexperienced summer workers this past summer.
Juve questioned what projects would be considered major projects.
Interstate Engineering of Nashua has prioritized proposed street projects and estimated costs.
Dschaak said major projects for the coming years would include repaving Front Street, Fairweather Street, Custer Street and Fifth Avenue North.
“We [the council, Isle and Interstate Engineering] have to collectively come up with a plan [for major street projects],” Dschaak said,
“I’d like to see this money [from an assessment increases] start working for us next summer,” he said.
“I wish I had a better idea how to lower taxes but I don’t,” Dschaak said.
Dschaak also said the street assessment rates should go up every year with inflation.
Written by John Plestina
First Community Bank employees donated $350 from their Jeans Day Fund to the Wolf Point Pound Puppies on Thursday, Aug. 27. Wolf Point Pound Puppies reprentatives (left to right) Carol Kelly and Darla Bradley were presented the donation by FCB employees Sue Herzog, Jhona Peterson and Heather Dombroski. (Photo by John Plestina)
Turning casual Fridays into cash, employees of the financial institutions in Wolf Point and Poplar are raising money for Wolf Point Pound Puppies by donating money to wear jeans to work on Fridays.
The nonprofit Pound Puppies is a local animal rescue organization that rescues animals from the pound in Wolf Point that have reached the six-day holding limit and finds new homes with local people for some and transports others to animal adoption groups in Montana and North Dakota.
Darla Bradley, president of Wolf Point Pound Puppies, said Thursday, Aug. 27, that Pound Puppies has rescued 736 dogs and about 150 cats since the inception of the organization more than three years ago.
Pound Puppies administrator Tina Bets His Medicine said in January that the organization had saved about 500 dogs in a little over two years.
First Community Bank, Western Bank, Wolf Point Federal Credit Union and Independence Bank are all raising money for Pound Puppies by donating casual Friday jeans donations.
First Community Bank in Wolf Point has a “Jeans Day Fund,” where employees donate $1 on Fridays if they wear jeans to work. The funds are deposited into an account where they accumulate. The First Community employees donated $350 from the Jeans Day Fund to Pound Puppies on Thursday, Aug. 27, as advance payment for wearing jeans to work every Friday in September.
The city’s pound has a six-day hold and many dogs have been euthanized in the past because of a lack of space to keep them beyond the six days. Fewer are put down now because Pound Puppies takes as many dogs that have reached the six-day limit as they can accommodate at their homes or can find foster homes for.
Many are taken to organizations in Montana and North Dakota for adoption.
Pound Puppies has survived since its inception in late 2012, through donations from the Wolf Point Lions Club, other donations from organizations and individuals.
Written by Herald-News
A grass fire that started at a campsite about 300 feet south of the Sherman Inn where people that are believed to be homeless were camping burned within a few hundred feet of homes in windy conditions Sunday, Aug. 30. The fire was reported about 11 a.m. The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department responded and had the fire out in less than a half hour. It was not known at press time whether anyone would charged in connection with the fire. A tent is visible in the photo. (Photo by John Plestina)