Wolf Point Herald

Shopko Coming To Town In Late March


Newly hired Shopko employees draped this canvas sign announcing that Shopko will open on the front of the former ALCO store on U.S. Hwy 2 in Wolf Point, Thursday, Feb. 5. ALCO, which has been in bankruptcy since October 2014, closed the Wolf Point store Friday, Jan. 30. A Shopko Hometown store will open at the site by the end of March.  (Photo by John Plestina)

An opening date has not been made public, but Shopko announced Friday, Feb. 6, that it will open during late March in the now shuttered ALCO building at 600 U.S. Hwy. 2 in Wolf Point.
“We were able to announce it today because we were waiting for the final paperwork to be signed,” Shopko manager of public relations Michelle Hansen said.
She could only estimate when the store will open.
“We’re hoping by the end of March “We’ve got some painting. We’ve got to get our merchandise in, so the end of March is our target date,” Hanson said.
Shopko has hired local employees and a canvas sign announcing that a Shopko Hometown store will open at that location was draped on the front of the building Thursday, Feb. 5.
The conversion to Shopko Hometown will include new interior and exterior signage, carpet, paint, updated and supplement fixtures and lighting, and a new easy to shop store layout, according to a Shopko press release.
Shopko is a 53-year-old, $3 billion, 320-store retail chain operating in 21 states and headquartered in Green Bay, Wisc.
With the addition of the Wolf Point location, there will be 175 Shopko Hometown stores, which are designed for communities with populations under 10,000. The remainder of the Shopko locations operate in larger cities. Shopko is one of the nation’s largest retailers serving smaller communities.
Shopko acquired the former Pamida chain in 2012, which allowed for the expansion into Glasgow.
“The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed to augment Shopko’s larger store model and focused on serving the needs of smaller rural communities, provides a broad and dynamic offering of strong national brands and high-value private label brands of apparel, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, every day consumable items and lawn and garden products – all in an attractive, well laid out, easy-to-shop store format,” Shopko said in a prepared statement.
“We’re excited to bring Shopko Hometown to Wolf Point,” Shopko CEO Peter McMahon said in the prepared statement.
“The Shopko Hometown store format, featuring our unique merchandising strategy and improved store design, is an ideal fit for the location with its exceptional service and community-minded approach. We understand that consumers in smaller towns are looking for value and convenience without having to travel outside the community.  Customers of our Hometown stores tell us they appreciate the vastly improved shopping experience and access to a broad, differentiated selection of merchandise, including products and brands previously not available in their community,” he said.
The Shopko Hometown in Glasgow includes a pharmacy and sells some groceries.
Hanson said a pharmacy is not planned for the Wolf Point store at this time. She said the Wolf Point Shopko will sell some grocery items.
ALCO, which has been in bankruptcy since October 2014, closed the Wolf Point store Friday, Jan. 30.
All 198 ALCOs in 23 states across the nation began a going-out-of-business sale in November 2014, less than six weeks after it’s Texas-headquartered parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The court approved a chain-wide liquidation sale of more than $260 million of inventory and fixtures in late November.
The Wolf Point ALCO was a ghost of what it once was with little merchandise remaining on the shelves by late January.
Only some of the closed ALCO stores are becoming Shopko locations.
Oppidan Investment Company, a Minnetonka, Minn., commercial developer, is developing 14 former ALCO locations for Shopko in four states that include Montana and North Dakota.
The developer confirmed that Shopko was wanting to locate in Wolf Point at least two months prior to the ALCO bankruptcy filing. After ALCO’s parent company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Oppidan’s focus shifted from developing 10 acres of the 25-acre former Great Northern Railroad roundhouse site owned by the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture to purchasing the 25,000-square-foot ALCO building. (See related story.)
An affiliate of the Boca Raton, Fla., headquartered Sun Capital Partners Inc., owns Shopko. Sun Capital Partners is an international private investment firm focused on leverage buyouts, equity, debt and other investments in market-leading companies, according to a Shopko press release. Sun Capital affiliates have invested in more than 330 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $45 billion since its inception in 1995.
More information about Shopko is available at www.shopko.com.

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Paine Resigning As School Superintendent

Following 24 years as an educator and administrator for the Wolf Point School District, the last two as district superintendent, Joe Paine submitted his resignation to become a principal in Grenora, N.D.
Paine’s resignation is effective June 15.
In a letter to WPSD board chairman Martin DeWitt, Paine called the experience as superintendent one that was rewarding and challenging, that allowed professional growth.
Paine said he signed a contract with the school district in Grenora Friday, Feb. 6.
“It’s a slower pace. There are 200 kids in school,” Paine told The Herald-News.
“It’s going to be hard. Twenty-four years is a long time,” he said.
He said compensation for his new position includes a house.
Paine also cited family and friends living in and near Grenora as another reason for his job change.
The school board voted Monday, Feb. 9, to list the vacancy with the Montana School Boards Association immediately. The MTSBA will assist with the search and screening process for a new superintendent.
DeWitt said the search should begin immediately.
“The good candidates get slimmer as the year goes on. We don’t want to pick from the leftovers,” he said.
DeWitt said he was sad to see Paine leave.
Northside Elementary School principal Hannah Nieskins is only one administrator currently employed by the WPSD who is licensed to be a superintendent.

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Bed Races May Be On Tap During Centennial Return Of Good Neighbor Days

The possibility of bed races being included in the Wolf Point’s Centennial Celebration during the 2015 Wild Horse Stampede came closer to reality during the monthly Centennial Committee meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 3.
The committee first discussed including a bed race during the January meeting.
Perhaps a little bit outside the box, the unusual sport of bed racing has become an annual event in places as diverse as Twin Falls, Idaho, and Key West, Fla. At the very least, it creates a wacky sight with teams of four people pushing beds on wheels through downtown streets with a fifth team member on the bed wearing pajamas.
Bed racing is definitely not a mainstream sport. It’s not about hitting a ball with a bat or sinking a basket, but it is ranked No. 8 on the Wonderslist Top 10 Unusual Sports In The World. The eighth place ranking is ahead of Oil Wrestling and Poohsticks.
The Bed Races would be a part of the Good Neighbor Days portion of the Centennial Celebration, a return of an annual summer event in Wolf Point that has not been held since the 1960s.
Other Good Neighbor Days events will include a pie eating contest with whipped cream filled pie crusts for various age groups. The first to finish in allotted time wins. A tug of war is a possibility.
The Stampede Parade will be held three days instead of two as during past years and the Centennial Committee plans period floats that will depict historical scenes of Wolf Point and specific decades.
Parade floats depicting events and decades of Wolf Point history will be paraded around the arena at Marvin Brookman Stadium at the Stampede Grounds during opening ceremonies for rodeo performances.
The KVCK Country Showdown will be held in Marvin Brookman Stadium at the Stampede Grounds for the first time in several years.
Held in the Wolf Point High School auditorium the past few years, the talent contest, which is the annual Wild Horse Stampede kick-off event, will be held in the larger venue Wednesday of Stampede week.
There will also be a Wolf City Rods and Rides car show and possibly a poker run.
John Olson and Don Hutchinson have a group of about 25 people interested in staging one or more Old West gunfight reenactments during the Stampede and Centennial Celebration, and hope they could become “guns for hire” throughout the year.
The show will likely be Saturday after the parade and the horses are put away.
Four nights of live music and three street dances downtown are likely. The Billings-based band “Downtime” is committed to perform one or more nights.
Other plans for the celebration that have been discussed include use of the old bridge for a yet undetermined event, a large public feed and home made old fashioned ice cream.

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Wrecked Car Might Be Shock Therapy For WPHS Students During Prom Week

What might be shock therapy for high school students would be a car or pickup truck that was demolished in a drunk driving crash, placed in the Wolf Point High School parking lot during prom week in April and possibly doing the same at Poplar High School.
The school boards would have to approve the request.
The Roosevelt County DUI Task Force decided to approach both school boards with the request, Wednesday, Feb. 4.
Wolf Point High School’s prom will be held either Friday, April 17 or Saturday, April 18. The WPSD has not decided between the two dates.
Wolf Point mayor Chris Dschaak said the presence of a wrecked vehicle would “hit them hard,” referring to the expected student reaction.
He said a major alcohol-related wreck hasn’t happened here on a prom night, but it could, and should be prevented.
In other business, the task force discussed the third and final reading of House Bill 132 passing with no opposition in the House, Thursday, Jan. 29. The bill was transmitted to the Senate the next day.
County Commissioner Gary Macdonald, who chairs the DUI Task Force, said passage of HB 132 would financially benefit county drinking and driving prevention programs statewide by allowing reallocation of unspent special revenue funds to Roosevelt County and 35 other counties that have DUI task forces or other county drinking and driving prevention programs, by allowing for the county portion of driver’s license reinstatement fees collected in counties that do not have task forces to be distributed to the 36 counties that have task forces July 1 of each year on an equal basis.
The legislation would take effect July 1, if the Senate approves it and Gov. Steve Bullock signs it into law.
Twenty of Montana’s 56 counties do not have county drinking and driving prevention programs.
The bill was introduced for the current legislative session at the request of the Montana Department of Transportation.
Macdonald said he plans to address the pending legislation when it comes up before the Senate.
Macdonald said there is a possibility that the increased revenue could fund monitoring for non-tribal DUI offenders through the Fort Peck Tribal Court DUI Court program. Macdonald said there have been discussions of including a request for legislation in the next Highway Safety Plan that would mandate judges to follow stricter DUI sentencing guidelines that would remove the leeway they currently have. Macdonald said such legislation could be introduced into the Legislature in two years.
“If it’s written that way, it can prevent judges from having latitude with sentencing,” Macdonald said.
The problem with over-service of bar patrons in Wolf Point, where an establishment continues to serve a person who is intoxicated, resurfaced during the latest task force meeting.
Montana law allows for any law enforcement officer to enter any business that sells alcohol at any time to determine whether the law is being followed.
All persons who sell or serve alcoholic beverages, including restaurant employees, are required to take an alcohol server training class and be state certified.
Wolf Point police chief Jeff Harada said officers can remove a liquor license from the wall of a bar if a serious violation occurs.
“There is a form online where the local public can file a [against a bar] complaint online,” Harada said.
He was referring to the Montana Department of Revenue Disorderly Licensed Premises form that became available to the public in August 2014. Anyone who has patronized an establishment where a server continues to serve an obviously intoxicated individual, where there is a fight and employees of the establishment do not call the police, minors being served or violations of any other alcohol or drug law can download, fill out and submit the form that is available at http://revenue.mt.gov/Portals/9/liquor/education.CitizenConcernForm.pdf.
Bar owners, bartenders and managers could be charged with manslaughter if they serve an intoxicated individual and that person kills another in a drunk-driving crash.
Montana is one of 43 states that has a “dram shop law,” which allows for bar owners, managers and servers to be held financially liable if a customer becomes obviously intoxicated on their premises and subsequently kills or injures someone or causes property damage.
Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice Capt. Jim Summers said tribal police has filed complaints with the state against bars.
Some people at the meeting said there should be repercussions for bar patrons continuing to drink after becoming intoxicated and being over served.
The DUI Task Force will participate in the 2015 Alcohol Education Summit in Bozeman during May.

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Deal For Chamber-Owned Land Falls Through As Big Box Retailer Is Revealed

The Twin Cities developer who was interested in constructing a 26,000-square-foot building for a national retailer has cancelled a purchase agreement with the Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously in September to sign a buy-sell agreement with Oppidan Investment Company, a Minnetonka, Minn., commercial developer, to sell up to 10 acres of a 25-acre site near the Homestead Inn for $35,000 per acre. The chamber has owned the former Great Northern Railroad roundhouse site since the Burlington Northern Railroad donated it during the 1970s.
Oppidan’s Drew Johnson confirmed that the deal was off to The Herald-News Wednesday, Feb. 4.
He said the previously unnamed retailer that was looking to expand into Wolf Point is Shopko and, with the ALCO bankruptcy filing in October 2014, the focus shifted to the ALCO building on Hwy. 2.
Johnson first approached the chamber board in August.
“We are in the process of doing 14 stores with them [Shopko] across four states,” Johnson said.
The four states include Montana and North Dakota.
“Shopko’s closest competitor was ALCO,” Johnson said.
He said in November that site prep costs for the chamber property would be higher than expected. He also acknowledged that the ALCO bankruptcy could be a factor for the retailer he was representing.
Johnson said during late 2014 that the major retailer would be an anchor store for what could be a development of several chain businesses.
Oppidan handles property acquisitions and develops construction sites for several national retailers, grocery chains and restaurants.
“Everyone at Wolf Point and the chamber was really great to work with. We are really disappointed it didn’t work out,” Johnson said.
Chamber president Jeff Presser expressed disappointment that the development fell through.

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