Wolf Point Herald

There Is Life After The Fire For Gospel Fellowship Church

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Gospel Fellowship Church is exploring options for the congregation that include substantial repairs or replacement of the more than half-century-old facilities after a fire burned through part of the interior of the church on the corner of Hill Street and Second Avenue North in Wolf Point, Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Beginning Sunday, Nov. 30, the congregation will meet for Sunday services in Community Bible Church at 436 Indian Street, at 9:30 a.m. for Sunday School and 10:45 a.m. for services for at least four weeks.
The church held services in the Sherman Inn’s Centennial Room, Sunday, Nov. 23.
“We’ve talked about different options; possibly different churches in town,” Pastor Bruce Bogar said.
A business meeting was held.
“On Sunday [Nov. 23], we’ll present some different options to the congregation. We have quite a few options,” Bogar said Friday, Nov. 21.
He said other churches have offered temporary space for Sunday worship.
Fire burned portions of the church and there is extensive smoke, water and steam damage, leaving the future of the current church building in question.
An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. The church had about two feet of water pumped out of the basement three days after the fire.
“That’s still in question right now,” Bogar said. “At first it looked like it may be repairable. There’s more damage to the rafters than we had thought.”
Bogar and church trustees are waiting to see what an insurance adjuster says.
“I just look around. They put so much water on it. There’s steam and water damage inside the building,” trustee Brian Miller said.
“Knock it down and build a new facility or reuse part of it. There are safety concerns,” he said.
“There’s a lot of history here. People got married here. People got buried here,” Miller said.
The oldest part of the church was built during the late 1950s and an addition dates to the late 1980s.
An investigator from the Montana State Fire Marshal’s Office in Miles City conducted an investigation, Wednesday, Nov. 19.
Following that investigation, Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department chief Shawn Eggar said the cause was not suspicious.
“It was determined to be accidental. It was in the area of the sound room where it started. Nothing suspicious at all,” Eggar said.
“It could have been electrical it could have been the furnace. There was nothing suspicious,” he said.
No one was in the church when the fire started and no injuries were reported.

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New Principal, Teacher Join Frontier School Staff

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A new principal and teacher have joined the Frontier School staff.
Jack O’Neill
Principal Jack O’Neill is a longtime educator and former lawman.
He came to Frontier in July as business manager and district clerk and took over as principal after the school year started.
Born and raised in upstate New York, O’Neill is a Vietnam veteran, having served in the 11th Armored Cavalry. He remained in the Army after his service in Vietnam, serving in the Military Police in Hawaii and Louisiana.
He has many years as an educator, as a math teacher and principal in Colorado, mostly in the Denver metropolitan area, three years in South Dakota and one year in Alaska.
O’Neill did double duty in Kit Carson, Colo., southeast of the Denver area, as a teacher during the day and a deputy sheriff at night.
Tina Strauser
Tina Strauser recently joined the Frontier staff as a K-6 music teacher and fifth-grade reading and science teacher. She is also an assistant girls’ basketball coach.
Strauser is a former Northeast Montana Health Services’ public relations director and substitute teacher in Poplar. She is also a photographer for the Fort Peck Journal.
Originally from Sidney, Strauser has lived in Poplar for many years.
Her husband, Marty Strauser, owns an automotive body shop in Poplar.
Strauser is pursuing a master’s of education degree through Montana State University - Billings.

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DUI Court Graduation

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Four people graduated from the Fort Peck Tribal Court DUI Court 12-month alternative sentencing diversion program and one from the Tribal Court’s Wellness Court, Friday, Nov. 21. Pictured are (listed alphabetically) DUI Court graduates Dorothy Day, Patricia Falls Down, Jason Hamilton and Norman Owens, and Wellness Court graduate Shai-Lee Weeks holding her son, Kayto McKenzie, 1. Also pictured are public defender Rena Belton, Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center staff member Donna Black Dog, prosecutor Andrea Brown, probation officer Courage Crawford, DUI Court coordinator Sidney Gourneau, Judge Danna Runs Above and IHS employee Cheryl Shanks. DUI Court is a multi-phased alternative sentencing program for DUI offenders that uses a premise that most repeat drunk driving offenders are alcoholic and need treatment and support that might include 12-step recovery meetings. The program keeps offenders out of jail as long as they comply with the requirements of DUI Court. Wellness Court is a similar program addressing family and sobriety issues and is tied to family court.   (Photos by John Plestina)

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Modular Construction Considered As Way To Trim Wolf Point Village Construction Costs

A shift to less expensive modular construction was discussed as a possible solution to high construction bids for the 24-unit Wolf Point Village rental complex, during a Wolf Point City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Great Northern Development Corporation housing specialist and marketing officer Brianna Vine told the council everything is on hold for the winter but the project will hopefully move forward.
Two rounds of construction bidding during the summer and fall produced high bids that put the project over budget.
“There is a one-year window to get the complex built,” Vine said.
“As you know, winter is upon us, so there is no construction until spring,” she said.
Vine said a shift to factory- built modular components would cut some costs and would speed up the length of the construction period.
“We’re in the process of seeing if that will fit in our budget,” she said.
If not, a third round of bidding might become necessary, Vine said.
The cost of stick built construction is estimated at $120 per square foot and $110 for modular. While the savings would he about $10 per square foot, the project would be about 24,000 square feet.
“The question is, are you, the council, interested in going to modular construction?” asked Mayor Chris Dschaak.
He said there is a question of whether the architect would be willing to change the plans for modular construction.
“We don’t know exactly what the changes would entail,” Dschaak said.
The city is acting in a pass-through capacity with the project as the city received a $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce early this year. GNDC is the project manager for the city.
Dschaak said the developer, Jonathan Reed of Jonathan Reed & Associates of Colorado, Springs, Colo., has twice asked the council to reevaluate and possibly waive $80,000 for grant administration costs.
Dschaak said in September that the city has already put money into the project and should not waive the $80,000.
“The $80,000 is not going to make or break this project,” Dschaak said.
Dschaak said Thursday, Nov. 20, that under the HOME grant, the city would manage four low income units, but the city doesn’t have any way to manage it so that responsibility would be with the onsite property manager. The city would be responsible to ensure that the paperwork is done correctly.
“On the city’s end, it’s going to cost us money every year for 20 years,” Dschaak said.
”It doesn’t benefit us financially to throw away the taxpayers’ money,” he said.
The city has money invested with engineering costs and has waived water and sewer hook-up fees, at a loss to the city between $10,000 and $15,000.
Dschaak said the $750,000 HOME grant would not be a loss if Wolf Point Village is not built.
“We won’t lose that HOME grant. The state has assured us that they are going to work with us to make sure that we are going to get to spend that money. We have until 2017 to spend that money,” Dschaak said.
Plans are to build four one-
bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units on the north side of town, within walking distance of Borge Park, swimming pool, Northside Elementary School and the Northeast Montana Health Service - Wolf Point Campus.
The complex would be targeted to families with incomes between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income. A family of four with a household income between $23,240 and $38,860 would qualify for these apartments. Rent will range from $354 to $767 monthly.
The apartments will include energy efficient air conditioning, heating and appliances and single-car garages. The complex will include common area with barbecue, gazebo, computer learning center and library.

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City Of Wolf Point Might Be Sitting On Some Money

Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council Tuesday, Nov. 18, that the city could apply for a federal Community Development Block Grant up to $450,000 and that the city could redirect the $750,000 HOME grant through the Montana Department of Commerce the city received early this year for the Wolf Point Village rental complex if that project is not built.
Dschaak said the city could apply for the CDBG grant for projects that could benefit the community. The timeline has passed to obtain CDBG funding for the Wolf Point Village project.
The city is acting in a pass-through capacity with the HOME grant for the still proposed 24-unit Wolf Point Village project with Great Northern Development Corporation as the project manager for the city.
Two rounds of construction bidding during the summer and fall have produced high bids that could have pushed the cost of the project above the developer’s budget. There are current attempts to reduce costs.
“We won’t lose that HOME grant. The state has assured us that they are going to work with us to make sure that we are going to get to spend that money. We have until 2017 to spend that money,” Dschaak said.
Financial needs that the city has include downtown sewer replacement and likely repaving on Main Street at the same time.
The council was told Monday, Oct. 20, that the aging clay sewer main along Main Street through the downtown area is broken in places and could collapse if not replaced soon.
Main Street has not been repaved for more than 20 years and the city has talked to the Montana Department of Transportation about the need. The impacted street is part of Montana Hwy. 25.
The city has recently video taped the inside of the sewer main and will have an engineer look at it.

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