Written by John Plestina
This artist’s rendering shows one of the house designs for the project. The graphic is the site plan for the first 20 houses built on circular streets, creating a village environment.
A charitable organization that was born out of the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina is partnering with the Fort Peck Tribes to build the first 20 houses in Poplar of what could be 100 new energy-efficient homes for tribal members during the coming years.
The first phase of the project is on a 5.2-acre site at the former Poplar Airport along the north side of U.S. Hwy. 2.
Long-range plans include construction of a total of 100 houses in Poplar, Wolf Point, Brockton, Fort Kipp, Frazer and Oswego. Timelines for construction beyond the first 20 houses and specific locations have not been disclosed.
The nonprofit Make It Right Foundation, headquartered in New Orleans, La., says on its website that it plans to build solar-powered homes with three-to-four bedrooms and two-to-three bathrooms that will be available to tribal members whose income levels are at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Some of the homes will be dedicated to senior adult and disabled veteran housing.
Homeownership will be available to tribal members and structured through a low income housing tax credit rent-to-own program with ownership transferring to tenants after 15 years of renting.
The homes will have angular shapes and are built with the “cradle to cradle” method, which means building with safe and reusable construction materials. Renewable energy is utilized and Make It Right says on its website that the houses use 70 percent less energy than conventional homes of the same size.
Nine years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina became the nation’s worst natural disaster on record, displacing about 770,000 people in the Gulf Coast region and completely destroying or making uninhabitable an estimated 300,000 homes, many of which were in New Orleans, La. As a result, actor Brad Pitt co-founded the nonprofit Make It Right Foundation in 2007.
Last year, Make It Right reported that the organization had built 90 of 150 safe, energy-efficient and affordable homes for families from New Orleans.
Since 2007, Make It Right has partnered with housing programs in Newark, N.J., and Kansas City, Mo., as well as the Fort Peck Tribes.
Make It Right views its work in post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans as a laboratory for cost-effective green building.
“Our work in New Orleans has led to innovations in affordable homebuilding – proof that high-quality, healthy homes can and should be available for everyone,” the Make It Right website reads.
Make It Right’s work on the Fort Peck Reservation began in June 2013 with meetings with tribal leaders, potential tenants/homeowners, architects and designers.
At that time, the Fort Peck Tribes Housing Improvement Program hired Poplar native Felix McGowen, now of Post Falls, Idaho, as a consultant for the program.
He coordinated the public meetings in Poplar.
“The public was involved and that created a desire for a new housing community,” McGowen said.
“The community wants to have houses in the old village fashion in a circular fashion,” he said.
He said state low income tax credits will help for the first 20 houses.
“There is a three-phase plan to build up to 100 homes,” McGowen said.
He said construction in Poplar and other communities beyond the first 20 houses will not happen immediately.
“Right now that plan was done for Poplar for the retired airport property,” McGowen said.
Currently, there is no infrastructure present at the airport site. Roads, power, water and sewer will soon be put in. That, McGowen said, will begin in early September.
He said foundations for the first 10 houses are scheduled be poured in late September or October and the first 10 homes will be completed by late spring 2015 with the second 10 finished by July or August 2015.
McGowen said public meetings will be held in all communities where homes could eventually be built. Dates have not been set.
A telephone call to the Make It Right Foundation requesting comment was not returned.
The organization’s website is http://makeitright.org/.
Written by John Plestina
Skipping out on jury duty might seem to be a way to evade responsibility and go on with their daily lives for some people. It also is sometimes a hindrance for 15th District Court to proceed with trials.
The problem became acute, Thursday, Aug. 14, when Judge David Cybulski declared a mistrial when not enough people showed up for jury selection for a scheduled trial for Malinda Bibb.
As a result, the practice of calling 60 potential jurors for jury selection for trials has been abandoned. Cybulski has decided to call 100 people for every future trial.
Of the 60 called for Bibb’s first scheduled trial date, 28 showed up after some were excused for reasons that included harvest and planned vacations, and two people on the list were found to be deceased. People who are excused by the court will have to serve jury duty another time. Twenty-eight people is fewer than the court considers an acceptable number to choose from.
“We did the dentist thing as the judge called it,” district court clerk Jeri Toavs said of calling every person who had been called for the selection process.
“We’re not hard to deal with. We’re just trying to get our jury so we can get on with our trial,” she said.
Toavs said of 60 people called for typical trials in the past, 10 percent are excused and a few don’t show up, but the average turnout is about 45 potential jurors.
A new trial date is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 16, for Bibb, 31, of Minot, N.D. She is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Another trial is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11, for Shane Stephen Kennedy, a felony child support case.
Jury pools are chosen randomly from voters, driver’s license and state identification card lists.
Cybulski is issuing orders to show cause to each of the people who did not show up for jury selection for the Bibb trial and had not been previously excused.
The Montana Code allows for a maximum fine of $50 for people who are summonsed for jury duty who willfully [and not excused by the court] fail to show up.
The jurisdiction of state courts does not include tribal members, but tribal members are called for District Court jury duty.
Jurors and potential jurors are paid 56 cents per mile for travel, $25 per day for service on a jury and $12 if they show up and are not picked for a jury.
Toavs said company policies may address jury duty and pay.
“Often employees are requested to turn in their pay, but that is between them and the company,” she said.
For state, county, municipal and public school employees, they could either waive their jury pay or turn it in, Toavs said.
In all cases, persons called for jury duty are allowed to keep mileage pay.
“We will issue separate mileage and juror checks when requested,” Toavs said.
“Do your civic duty,” she said. “It makes a lot of work for the [court] clerks.”
Toavs added, “Look at the people who did show; it took time out of their day.”
She said the attorneys on both sides have to prepare for trials and the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office provides a bailiff, who might otherwise be on patrol.
Written by John Plestina
This “lake” flooded several acres between the Wadopana Celebration grounds and the Sherman Inn parking lot, as seen from Rodeo Road, Monday, Aug. 25. The second photo is water acumulating in the gutters in the intersection of Edgar Street and First Avenue South. The third photo is a tree limb down on the 200 block of Dawson Street. (Photos by John Plestina)
Four days of monsoonal weather with over five inches of rain in the Wolf Point area and more farther west resulted in various degrees of flooding, mostly west of Wolf Point.
The storm amounted to the fourth highest four-day rainfall total on record for Wolf Point with 5.5 inches recorded at L.M. Clayton Airport at Wolf Point, beginning during the evening hours of Thursday, Aug. 21.
Josh Barnwell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Glasgow, said Tuesday, Aug. 26, that the August rainfall total for Wolf Point was 6.97 inches, well above the 1.13 normal reading for August. Glasgow also broke the August record for precipitation.
The totals east of Wolf Point were lower with 3.41 inches recorded about 20 miles south of Brockton in Richland County and 1.83 inches at Culbertson. There was no recorded measurement for Poplar. Nashua registered 5.1 inches.
The Missouri River at Wolf Point rose to 13.58 feet, well below flood stage of 23 feet.
According to the NWS, parts of Valley County were impacted with about eight inches of rain west of Glasgow to an area west of Malta.
“The highest amounts were around Malta and around Winnett in Petroleum County,” Barnwell said.
Tanja Fransen, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS in Glasgow, reported low land flooding on the Milk River at Glasgow, where the river had been reported at 29.77 feet at 7 a.m., Monday, Aug. 25.
“They are going to hit flood stage in Nashua but it has go up another seven feet,” Fransen said.
The Milk River was at 12.9 feet Monday morning and was expected to reach 21.5 feet by Tuesday morning.
“That’s not extensive. It would have to reach 29 feet before it starts impacting the town of Nashua,” Fransen said.
The NWS reported early on Tuesday, Aug. 26, that the Milk River at Nashua was at 19 feet at 3:30 a.m., and was expected to crest at 23 feet by Tuesday evening. The NWS also reported the Milk at 31.74 feet at the Montana Hwy. 24 bridge near Glasgow at 3:40 a.m., Tuesday.
The Milk River was expected to crest at 22.9 feet at Dodson, which is just below the flood stage of 23.0 feet.
Flooding was reported on Cherry Creek west of Glasgow.
Flood warnings were issued for the Milk and Musselshell rivers and Beaver Creek.
An earthen dam broke in southern Valley County, washing out part of Willow Creek Road, an unpaved roadway.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if other earthen dams that are private dams washed out,” Fransen said.
Roosevelt County Disaster and Emergency Services director Dan Sietsema said no storm damage had been reported to his office.
One tree limb was down and partially in the roadway on the 200 block of Dawson Street in Wolf Point and some residents said they had basement flooding.
The rain event that caused the flooding is over, but more precipitation is in the forecast.
“Were looking pretty dry right now. The next chance of rain is Thursday into Friday morning, but it is a 20 percent chance. The next chance is Saturday afternoon, it’s about a 30 to 40 percent chance. Saturday afternoon and evening looks like the best chance as of right now,” Barnwell said.
Written by Herald-News
The annual Fort Kipp Celebration, a pow-wow that is a celebration of native culture and traditions through dancing, food, crafts and fellowship, was held Thursday, Aug. 21, through Sunday, Aug. 24. (Photos by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
Firefighters disconnect the battery in the pickup truck and search for fuel leaks in order to render the vehicle safe. (Photo by Pat Drescher)
An eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train struck a pickup truck at a railroad crossing on Star Coulee Road, about four miles west of Bainville, Thursday, Aug. 21.
The Montana Highway Patrol, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, fire and rescue squads from Bainville and Culbertson, and ambulances from both communities, responded to the crossing just off U.S. Hwy. 2 at about 4 p.m.
The train crashed into the vehicle just behind the driver side door, according to Culbertson firefighter Pat Drescher.
The train was reported to have been able to stop about 100 yards down the track.
MHP trooper Jordan Gulick said the driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle and had been ejected upon impact.
Gulick confirmed that the pickup truck was owned by Waste Management and driven by an Arkansas man who has not been identified.
The man was transported by ambulance to Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson and later flown to a Bismarck, N.D., hospital. His condition was not known Tuesday, Aug. 26. Law enforcement sources reported that he was alive.
Gulick said the driver was ejected from the truck.
The crossing was marked by a railroad crossing sign, but there was no signal.
Gulick responded to a question of whether the driver attempted to beat the train.
“I’ve yet to talk to the driver because of his injuries but that’s what a witness told me,” he said. “I cant imagine he never saw it.”
Gulick said the driver will be cited for disobeying the railroad crossing sign.
Mike Olson of the Culbertson Fire Department said in addition to the response by both Bainville and Culbertson fire and ambulances, fire and rescue personnel from Froid were on standby.
He said the Amtrak train did not sustain any damage.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the train with 264 passengers was delayed for two hours and two minutes. There were no injuries on board.
Waste Management spokesman Robert Kidwell said driver of the pickup sustained non-life threatening and has been released from the Bismarck hospital.
He said the driver was en route to North Dakota.
“We’re just thankful that the injuries were not life threatening and non one on the train was injured as a result of the accident,” Kidwell said.