Written by Angela Rose Benson
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway employees work near Fort Kipp Wednesday, July 15, to restore rail service following the first of two BNSF derailments in eastern Roosevelt County within two days. (Photo by Angela Rose Benson)
Little information was available from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway following the derailment of an eastbound mixed merchandise train near Fort Kipp, which created little incidence and no injuries. The derailment occurred Tuesday, July 14, at approximately 4:30 p.m. 10 miles west of Culbertson.
The train originated in Washington state.
All cars remained upright and nothing was spilled. The track returned to service on Thursday, July 16, at 12:15 p.m.
According to Lee Allmer, public information officer for Roo-sevelt County, Amtrak passengers waited for nearly 36 hours in Wolf Point before BNSF was able to get the rails open and running.
According to reports, about a mile of track was damaged.
Written by John Plestina
Does size really matter?
After all, small towns might have big things going on that could reflect the communities in a positive light.
Here we are in Wolf Point, located in Montana’s outback with some 3,000 souls, with three big things over the last weekend, just one week after the 92nd annual Wild Horse Stampede and once in a lifetime Wolf Point Centennial celebration. Wolf Point hosted the Montana State Elks Association Summer Convention for the first time, Thursday through Saturday, July 16-18. Delegates came from every part of Montana and several visiting Elks came from other states, including the Wyoming state Elks president.
Wolf Point Lodge No. 1764 exalted ruler and Herald-News publisher Darla Downs was elected and sworn in as Montana State Elks Association president. She is the youngest president in MSEA’s 113-year history.
Even higher up in Elkdom was a visit by 2015-2016 Grand Exalted Ruler Ron Hicks of Fredericksburg Va., the highest ranking Elk in the nation, making his first stop in Wolf Point on his first road trip as Grand Exalted Ruler, which also happened to be his first trip to Montana. Wolf Point was the first impression of Montana [other than the Billings airport] for Hicks and his wife Nancy.
So Wolf Point history was made.
Yes, I am an Elk, the secretary of the Wolf Point lodge and very proud to have been a part of all that was happening this past weekend.
Here are a few “claims to fame” by other small communities that couldn’t hold a candle to Wolf Point.
Brunswick, Mo., has claimed the world’s largest pecan.
Sumner Mo., claims Maxie, a 40-foot-tall fiberglass goose. Whoo hoo. Wolf Point definitely topped that.
If a fiberglass goose doesn’t get you excited, how about the world’s largest catsup bottle, or ketchup if you prefer. There is no difference. It’s like potato and potahto or tomato and tomahto. That’s the big attraction in Collinsville, Ill. The 70-foot-tall catsup bottle atop of a 100-foot steel base that serves as a water tower was first erected nearly 70 years ago next to, you guessed it, a catsup [or ketchup] factory. It was torn down during the 1960s and rebuilt in the 1990s as a tourist trap, reportedly the only reason people visit the tiny burgh.
If you like offbeat attractions, Cawker City, Kan., is home to the world’s largest ball of twine, purported to attract about 300 visitors a week. People have been adding twine since 1953 and continue to do so.
Soap Lake, Wash., boasts the world’s largest lava lamp.
Neillsville, Wisc., is home to Chatty Belle, alleged to be the world’s largest talking cow. I’m not planning a trip to Wisconsin.
Bangor, Maine, and Bemidji, Minn., both have larger than life statues of Paul Bunyan, and claim to be the hometown of the mythical lumberjack.
Closer to home, Garrison, N.D., boasts the 26-foot “Wally Walleye.” Imagine catching that in Fort Peck Lake.
I wonder how many of those towns other than Bangor have Elks lodges. I know Bangor has an Elks lodge and I’ve seen Paul Bunyan during the several years I lived there.
Here is another offbeat attraction I have seen and it might be a quirky slice of Americana. The Nevada shoe tree was in a turnout on U.S. Hwy. 50 about 60 miles east of Reno until vandals committed the dastardly act of taking a chainsaw to it on New Year’s Eve 2010.
According to the Nevada Tourism Commission, the tradition started during the 1950s or 60s following an argument between newlyweds. The woman tossed her husband’s shoes into the 70-foot-tall cottonwood tree and drove off into the sunset, leaving her new husband barefoot and alone in the Nevada desert on Hwy 50, which has come to be known as the “Loneliest Road in America.” Hence the “shoe tree” began with people tossing stinky sneakers and other discarded footwear into its branches to rot in the desert sun.
A memorial service was held for the murdered shoe tree with hundreds of people attending.
A new shoe tree soon sprouted near the site of the original and there are several copycats in other states.
The twice annual Silver State Classic Challenge open road race begins south of Ely, Nev. and ends near Las Vegas every May and September. It attracts gear heads and media from all over the world. It was just before the race in May, 2011, at a time that I was editor of The Ely Times, more than 250 miles from the shoe tree, that a race driver from Alberta, Canada, I was talking to invited me to join him and his family for dinner. His teenage daughter told me she had talked her parents into taking her to see the shoe tree on their way home. I broke her heart when I told her of its demise five months earlier.
So if size really does matter for small towns, does Wolf Point need a 26-foot-long fiberglass fish or a tree in Sherman Park blooming with stinky sneakers?
Written by John Plestina
A north side resident who the animal control officer cited after alleging that her cats were running loose complained to the Wolf Point City Council Monday, July 20.
Madonna Rowe, 56, was cited at her home on the 400 block of Eureka Street, Thursday, July 16, under a municipal ordinance for cats running at-large off her property. She must appear in Wolf Point City Court Wednesday, Aug. 26.
The Wolf Point animal control officer also told Rowe to remove one dog from her property. Three dogs and five cats are the limits the city allows.
“I was told they have an officer that is willing to testify against me for my cats going in and out of windows,” Rowe said and added that the windows cannot be seen from the street or alley.
“I have had one of these cats 13 years and I have allowed her to go in and out of windows,” she said.
Rowe, who said she has owned her home 21 years, called the demand that she get rid of one dog and the citation against her “petty.”
“Our animal control officer has been very diligent getting hundreds of dogs off the streets,” mayor Chris Dschaak said.
Rowe alluded to difficulty getting along with the neighbor who complained about her animals.
“My neighbor has chosen to call the cops on me because of my animals and my yard,” Rowe told the council.
She alleged that the same neighbor called the police on another occasion reporting a disturbance when she was having a barbecue in her front yard at about 6 p.m.
“Chief [Jeff Harada], correct me if I’m wrong; there are more important things than dogs and cats,” Dschaak said.
He said an item must be on the meeting agenda a minimum of 48 hours prior to a meeting for the council to act on it. Rowe brought her concerns to the council as a public comment.
Dschaak recommended that Rowe discuss the issue with the council’s police and animal control committee in August, prior to the next scheduled full council meeting on Monday, Aug. 17. That will be nine days before Rowe’s scheduled court appearance.
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point Police responded to Northeast Montana Health Services - Wolf Point Campus for a report of a nurse bitten by a dog while helping a discharged patient into a car in the hospital parking lot on Tuesday, July 14.
Lt. Brian Erwin said police received a report at 1:40 p.m. that a black Labrador retriever that was inside the vehicle the patient was getting into bit the nurse. Then, the dog owner refused to comply with the animal control officer and fled.
Erwin said the dog owner lives in Peerless.
He said the dog should be quarantined by city animal control, but Montana law allows the owner to quarantine the animal at home.
As of Monday, July 20, — six days after the report of the bite — the owner had not cooperated with authorities and the exact whereabouts of the dog was not known.
The investigation of the incident was turned over to the Roosevelt County Health Department.
Written by John Plestina
Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City council that Cape Air is seeking a 3 percent raise from the Federal Aviation Administration during the monthly Council meeting Monday, July 20.
The federal Essential Air Service program subsidizes Cape Air to operate air service between Billings and Wolf Point, Glasgow, Sidney and Glendive.
Cape Air will bring a proposal to a committee of the council in August and will then take the proposal to the FAA for approval.
The cost of operating scheduled service between Wolf Point and Billings would be considerably higher and fares would increase significantly if they were not subsidized.
“We realize how essential Essential Air Service is,” Dschaak said.
The city also wants an additional flight. Some people have to drive to Glasgow to get on a plane to go to Billings.
In other business, Dschaak told the council that the Wolf Point Village apartment complex development proposal could be revived.
Developer Jonathan Reed of Jonathan Reed & Associates of Colorado Springs, Colo., worked with municipal officials and Great Northern Development Corporation to develop the proposed 24-unit rental complex near the hospital, that could have provided affordable rental housing, through most of 2014 and nearly half of this year. Reed withdrew from the project and it appeared it would not be built.
“A new developer has come to us asking to continue the project Mr. Reid wasn’t able to,” Dschaak said.
The developer was not identified.