Written by The Herald-News
Montanans earning minimum wage will see an increase from $7.80 per hour to $7.90 per hour on Jan. 1.
The increase in the minimum wage is based upon any increase in the U.S. City Average Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for All Items from August of the preceding year to August of the year in which the calculation is made. This amount is to be rounded to the nearest five cents.
The current 2013 minimum wage rate is $7.80. Based on an increase in the CPI of 1.5 percent from August 2012 to August 2013, the calculation used for determining the minimum wage rate for 2014 is as follows: $7.80 X .015% = $.12, rounded to $0.10.
Montana is one of 18 states that have a higher minimum wage than the national minimum wage of $7.25. Washington has the highest minimum wage at $9.19.
Information relating to Montana’s minimum wage may be downloaded from www.mtwagehourbopa.com or www.ourfactsyourfuture.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 11:01
Written by Al Stover
Richard John Burton was sentenced to 10 years at Montana Department of Corrections with five years suspended at his appearance in Montana 15th Judicial Court Sept. 26 after being convicted of criminal endangerment.
Burton was arrested Feb. 4 after officers were informed of a possible crash by an intoxicated male driver, north of Culbertson.
Officers from Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office made contact with Tom Beck, who made the report. Beck said the driver had gotten his pickup unstuck and traveled down County Road 2051. He said the truck had one headlight and damage caused by the male using a tractor to pull the truck out of the ditch.
Deputy Tim Lingle noticed a pickup traveling toward him with only the passenger headlight working. Lingle initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver, Richard Burton. When he learned that Burton did not have a valid driver’s licence, he checked the status of Burton’s driver’s licence. During this time, Burton drove away. Dispatch later informed Lingle the vehicle was stolen from Sheridan County.
Pursuit continued until Burton pulled over near the mile marker 10 in Richland County. He was arrested and transported to the Richland County jail.
Judge David Cybulski asked Burton if the presentence investigation report was accurate. Burton said the report listed a violation of possession of firearms, but it had been changed to trespassing. He said he had taken his father hunting and drove him to the property and that the report was making the incident “worse than what it was.”
Roosevelt County Attorney Ralph Patch recommended Burton be sentenced to Montana State Prison for five years.
Attorney Mark Epperson presented a report from Michelle Helgason, who wrote the presentence investigation report on Burton. Her recommendation was five years in Montana State Prison or Department of Corrections for his repeat serious alcohol problem.
Helgason said Burton had gone to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and had been six months sober before drinking again. Epperson asked Helgason if Burton would have access to alcohol treatment programs. She said, at Department of Corrections, there were also possible programs for chemical dependency issues.
Epperson brought Burton’s mother, Julie Burton, as a witness. She confirmed that he had been living with her for approximately six weeks. She said his brother had given him a trailer and he is in the process of remodeling it.
Julie Burton said she had been down the path with her son a dozen times, though she said she had seen a change in his attitude recently. She also said he would read his Bible every night, which she had never seen him do. She said her son is a “good guy,” but he has a problem with drinking and she thinks it is the cause of his crimes. She also said that she would like to see him go through a five-year intensive alcohol treatment.
“He does so good in a controlled environment,” Julie Burton said.
Patch cross-examined her and asked if she was aware that her son had been drinking while he was out on bond. She said she saw signs of it.
Epperson said that Julie Burton did call the authorities to let them know that her son was passed out drunk. She confirmed she did inform the authorities, but they would not respond unless her son had committed a crime. She said that Indian Health Services pays for treatments, but her son has to go to the clinic voluntarily.
Epperson recommended Richard Burton serve five years at the Department of Corrections so he could have a better chance to address and control his chemical dependency issues.
Cybulski let the defendant make a statement. Richard Burton said he had periods of sobriety. He also said that it was unfair to claim that he was only sober while he was incarcerated as he had opportunities to get alcohol and drugs and chose not to do so.
He also said he had a good relationship with his boss at Columbia Grain and has had a better relationship with his children, including his daughter. He said he has been through the treatment programs at the department at corrections and knows what is available.
Cybulski said that prospects for Richard Burton to rehabilitate might be better if he had help for his alcohol problem. He modified the defense’s recommendation by sentencing him to 10 years at Department of Corrections with five years suspended. He said he wants to help Richard Burton succeed.
In addition, he will pay a net fine of $2,000.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 10:59
Written by The Herald-News
Native American business owners who are looking for assistance can apply for a grant that can go toward helping their business grow.
The Montana Indian Equity Fund grant assists current or new Native American business owners who are members of Montana’s federally recognized tribes or enrolled members of the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. The grant is designed to help a new business or contribute to the growth of a small business.
According to the grant application guidelines on the Montana Department of Commerce’s website, the department will provide grants up to a total of $14,000 to eligible applicants.
Business owners who receive the grant can use the money for different things, such as the purchase of land, equipment and assets.
Businesses that apply must provide information about the nature of their business, the service it provides and the nature of their consumers and competition. They must also provide documentation of enrollment in a Montana federally recognized tribe or enrollment in the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. This can be in the form of a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood or tribal ID. They must also provide pertinent papers such as leases, contracts, invoices, vendor quotes and financial projections.
Existing business owners must show how the money will help their business either through the development of a new project or how it will affect their current business practices while new business owners must explain how the grant will support the success of their idea.
Businesses that have previously received the grant can apply again, but they must present a new technology, a new product or a new service in their application. They will be ranked less competitive than applicants who have not received the award.
The fund requires business owners to provide a minimum of dollar to dollar match. This can include a loan from a local bank. If the loan is from a Native American Community Development Financial Institution, a tribal loan fund or a Native American-owned bank, the application will receive consideration in the scoring process. Business owners must also include a repayment plan of how they will pay back the loan.
Collateral such as cash or in kind, which includes inventory or equipment, are also acceptable matches.
Applications can be found on the Montana Department Chamber of Commerce website and will be accepted until Oct. 31.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:41
Written by Al Stover
October is breast cancer awareness month and there are several ways people can help contribute to research to eliminate breast cancer.
1. Purchase Products With A Pink Ribbon On Them.
When you are doing your grocery shopping, keep an eye out on different products and items with a little pink ribbon on the front. Products that display the ribbon donate a portion of their proceeds to research.
Stores like Albertsons and ALCO have several products for sale that contribute part of their proceeds toward breast cancer research. Yoplait yogurt has their “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign from September through December. Customers who purchase Yoplait can redeem their pink foil lids. For every lid that is redeemed, the company donates 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
2. Get Mammograms At Your Local Health Institute.
Mammograms can help detect lumps, malignant tumors or other signs of breast cancer.
Wolf Point residents can schedule an appointment for a mammogram at Northeast Montana Health Services - Trinity Hospital.
Don’t just get a mammogram for yourself, but inform your friends and relatives, female and male, about getting a checkup, especially if there is breast cancer in your family’s medical history.
3. Participate In Events That Relate To Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Another way to help with breast cancer awareness month is by participating in an event that raises money toward breast cancer research. Several organizations hold fundraisers throughout the year.
The event could a marathon race where donations are collected and go toward research. The event could also be an event with vendors who give information on breast cancer research and sell products
Northeast Montana Health Services recently partnered with the Wolf Point Stampede and Mike’s Hard Lemonade and held the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” event, which raised money to support digital mammography in the radiology department at Trinity Hospital. NEMHS will also be holding their second Pink Night Out fundraiser Oct. 21 at the Elks Club in Wolf Point.
Another way to help is to donate your time and volunteer at these events.
4. Donate To A Charity.
Some of the charities that donate to Breast Cancer Awareness include: the Komen Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., and Living Beyond Cancer. You can go to their websites and make donations that way. Many of these donations are tax deductible.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:39
Written by The Herald-News
The U.S. federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has affected several agencies around Montana.
One of the biggest impacts of the shutdown was the closing of several landmarks and parks in northeast Montana and across the United States.
In a press release by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, national wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas and other ecological services will be closed across the nation. This includes all public recreation and hunting activities on refuges. National parks and monuments have also been closed across the country.
There will be limited function of some services, such as those that respond to emergencies to protect human life and property.
The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge roads will be open, but wardens will be patrolling the lands and will ask people to leave. The wardens are exempt from the shutdown because they are protecting government property.
The Bureau of Land Management offices in Montana and the Dakotas have suspended most of their services with the exception of law enforcement and emergency response functions.
According to a press release from the bureau, about 4,000 recreation facilities will be closed including the Garnet Ghost Town visitor’s center, the Shepherd Ah Nei Recreation Area and the Chain-of-Lakes Complex.
The bureau will maintain minimum staff to ensure continued state management of the nation’s energy resources and will furlough 712 employees. Once the initial shutdown procedures are completed, the bureau will maintain 18 exempted employees with an additional 80 employees on call.
The issuing of new oil and gas permits and leases will stop and limited work will continue to ensure safe operations of domestic energy supplies, including limited inspection and emergency response for more than 5,700 oil and gas wells for federal and Indian Trust minerals in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Other suspended activities and services include: Endangered Species Act and cultural clearances, range management restoration, wild horse and burro adoptions and timber sales.
The National Weather Service will continue to monitor the weather and issue warnings, but their offices are closed.
The Fort Peck Marina will remain open because it is privately owned; however, they will not receive any Corps’ assistance during the shutdown.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-operated campgrounds and parks will be closed nationwide.
Visitors who would like more information are encouraged to call their local park office or the USACE district office. They can also look for information on their local district’s website.
Campers at sites that are closed prior to the shutdown were required to vacate the grounds no later than 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2. They can also elect to leave their campsite reservations open for use after the shutdown is lifted. They will receive a refund for any unused portion of their reservations.
Campers who have reservations while the shutdown is in effect may cancel their reservations for a full refund or they can decide to leave their reservation open for use after the shutdown is lifted and request a refund for any “unused portion of the reservation due to the shutdown.” They can contact the reservation customer service for more information.
James R. Hannon, USACE Chief of Operations in Washington D.C., stated the USACE understands the impacts and they will reopen the facilities as soon as the shutdown is lifted.
Montana Farmers, Ranchers Affected By Shutdown
In addition the landmarks and refuges, farmers will be affected by the shutdown.
In Great Falls, Montana Farmers Union president Allen Merrill issued statement that farmers and ranchers may not be able to receive any loans for programs for which they have applied. He also said that payments for loans already approved could be delayed, which would be problematic for beginning farmers and ranchers.
Merrill also said that according to the Farm Service Agency, many services will be delayed or interrupted for farmers, ranchers and associated customers.
He said Montana’s Congressional delegation will not have the staff available to answer questions, but Montana citizens can contact them through “their Washington, D.C., mechanisms.”
The union urges the citizens of Montana to express their concerns.
Other Agencies, Programs
Several government services and programs will also be suspended during the shutdown, including the United States Department of Agriculture,
One USDA program that faces danger is Women, Infants and Children, a program that helps pregnant mothers and families buy food if they are poor and face nutritional risk.
There will be WIC benefits for Montana families in October, but the agency will have to wait until next month to see if they will continue with the program.
Local agencies affected by the shutdown include the Fort Peck Agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. All but three of their workers are furloughed.
Indian Health Services will remain open.
Other law enforcement agencies and health services will also remain open.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued a release saying that federal employees who are furloughed due to the shutdown are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, but those who receive back pay will have to repay their benefits. Employees who have been affected by the shutdown can file for benefits online at www.ui4u.mt.gov.
Many federal sites will not be maintained during the shutdown. Anyone who would like more information can visit www.DOI.gov/shutdown, oneINTERIOR.gov or OPM.gov.
The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by the shutdown because they have their own budget.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:38