News Of The Year In Courierland Gets A Recap / Second Of Two Parts
• The airline that provides Essential Air Service to Glasgow and other small cities in Montana has decided to leave the state. Silver Airways notified the U.S. Department of Transportation that it will not bid for another two-year contract and will stop flying scheduled service in Montana on Sept. 27.
Part of the reason for Silver's departure is the upcoming termination of EAS subsidies to Lewistown and Miles City on July 15, leaving only five cities in the program: Glasgow, Wolf Point, Glendive, Havre and Sidney.
• Despite game opposition from a man making his third appearance in their office, the Valley County Commissioners voted to approve a rate increase proposed by Valley County Transit, the first since 1997.
Harry Ratzky is a low-income senior citizen who objects to the increases that eliminated reduced fares for seniors and children. He also claims that the increase is not in compliance with the Federal Transit Administration's public notice and comment procedures. He said his first knowledge of the increase was an announcement of it in The Courier on May 29. Since he had no chance to comment on the increase, the procedure is flawed, he said.
• Police were called to the house of the Valley County Justice of the Peace on a Sunday evening for a reported disturbance. Police Chief Bruce Barstad said that Judge Linda Hartsock was arrested and charged with family member assault.
Hartsock made an initial appearance by Vision Net on Monday afternoon before Justice of the Peace Perry Miller of Chinook. She was released from jail on $2,500 bond.
Hartsock, 58, was elected to a fourth four-year term as justice of the peace in 2010.
• Glasgow has a new contract for an animal shelter to care for dogs and cats impounded by the police department. At the regular City Council meeting on Monday, they voted to approve an 11-month contract with Matt and Lisa Baxter, who own Valley Visions Paints on Skylark Road. The arrangement pays $625 a month, plus $20 per cat or dog impounded (not to exceed $120 per month).
• The justice of the peace for Valley County has resigned from office in the wake of a domestic disturbance and her arrest on a charge of family member abuse.
The Valley County Commissioners announced Tuesday that Linda Hartsock had resigned in a letter dated July 8, the day after the arrest, and received by the commissioners on July 16. The resignation is to be effective on July 31.
Hartsock, 58, was halfway through her fourth four-year term as justice of the peace. She won re-election in 2010 over two challengers.
• On Friday, Aug. 2, the city and representatives from Morrison-Maierle Engineers will host an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. at Glasgow's new treatment facility located behind the Sullivan Park ball fields.
Construction of the new $4.7 million facility was recently completed and represents the first treatment facility of its kind in Montana.
• Montana's unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent in June, the same rate as in May, a pause in the long-term downward trend experienced throughout 2013. The national rate also was steady at 7.6 percent.
In Valley County, the rate of unemployment was 4.4 percent, its customary place in the middle of the figures for counties in northeastern and eastern Montana. Unemployment in neighboring counties: Phillips – 5.7 percent, Roosevelt – 6.5 percent, Sheridan – 2.5 percent, Daniels – 4.4 percent, McCone – 2.7 percent, Richland – 2.7 percent, Dawson – 4.0 percent.
• A young company based in Denver is trying to start its second wind farm in Montana. Compass Energies is negotiating to find a market for the energy it hopes to generate from up to 13 turbines placed on about 1,400 acres it has leased from four landowners south of Opheim.
Kyle Paulson, development director for Compass Energies, explained the $40 million project to about 20 people at Glasgow High School on Tuesday night.
The turbines would generate up to 23 megawatts of power, but before anything is built, a number of interconnected things have to come to favorable conclusions. The buyer (called an offtaker) has to want their power at the price they can make it. The local owner of transmission infrastructure, NorVal, has to agree to move the power. Permits for water, wetlands and roads must be obtained.
• A new airline has been chosen to fly Essential Air Service routes to five cities in Montana. After hearing presentations from three companies last Thursday, the EAS Task Force unanimously chose Cape Air, a New England-based regional airline that serves 37 cities throughout the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, Caribbean and Micronesia.
• The Glasgow Reds' mostly sizzling summer of 2013 ends like this: Third place among eight teams in Montana-Alberta American Legion Class A Baseball Conference championship tournament.
It was third place with an exclamation point, even if the Big Red Machine sputtered at the end in an 8-1 loss to Belgrade that put the Bandits in the title game against eventual champion Laurel.
This summer goes down as one to remember for the Reds. They went 53-11, winning the Eastern A conference title. That makes more than 90 victories over two seasons.
• Seven event championships. A fourth place team finish. The Glasgow Kiwanis Swim Team made a nice, big splash at the Montana State Swim Meet.
As a team, the 32 Kiwanis Kids competing Aug. 3 and 4 at Sidney made good on their qualifying performances at the Eastern Divisionals in their home pool. The top five teams at State, in order, were Bitterroot, Sidney, Lewistown, Glasgow and Chinook.
Five Kiwanis swimmers were involved in the local club's seven event championships.
• At a public meeting held in Glasgow on July 30 to introduce the Compass Wind project, their development director, Kyle Paulson, said they needed a tax abatement so the price they can offer a potential power buyer is more attractive. He said there is lots of competition for this opportunity to create and sell wind energy.
The proposed $40 million wind farm would place up to 13 turbines on about 1,400 acres leased from four landowners south of Opheim. The turbines would generate up to 23 megawatts of power moved over NorVal Electric Co-op's transmission system. This is one of the elements of the deal still under negotiation.
The tax abatement lasts 10 years. For the first five years, the company would pay only 50 percent of the normal taxes. Every year thereafter, the abatement would drop by 10 percent. After 20 years, the county would have received $3.5 million in taxes, compared to $5 million with no abatement. But there might be no project at all without the tax abatement.
As part of the abatement law, Valley County can charge 1/2 of 1 percent of the total cost of the project, up to a maximum of $200,000, as an impact fee for the county's extra costs to provide public services.
• Professional shooter and author Julie Golob of Glasgow has joined the elite ranks of National Rifle Association's Action Pistol Distinguished Badge holders, her website announced.
Having won three NRA Bianchi Cup Women's Championships, Golob is one of just four women who have earned Distinguished status in the sport of Action Pistol.
Arguably one of the most challenging handgun shooting sports in the world, NRA Action Pistol competition consists of four courses – the Barricade, Practical, Moving Target and the Plates.
• BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) plans to invest an estimated $115 million on maintenance and rail capacity expansion projects in Montana this year, a significant amount of it along the Hi-Line.
BNSF will expand capacity in Montana by constructing three new unit train staging tracks about 3 miles east of Glasgow and will enhance safety by adding machine vision technology at Miles City to help detect damaged equipment.
BNSF will also continue its robust track maintenance program in Montana, which will include more than 2,300 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of nearly 100 miles of rail and about 310,000 ties, as well as significant signal upgrades for federally mandated positive train control.
• In another St. Marie power struggle, tensions with legal implications were heated at times in the second half of 2013 as some leading property owners at the former Glasgow Air Force Base pursued different interests.
• Valley County's new justice of the peace, James Wixson, was appointed by the county commissioners and sworn into office Monday by Clerk and Recorder Lynne Nyquist.
He came to Glasgow with the FBI in 1981 and was involved in investigating major crimes on the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations. He retired here in 1997 after a long career as an agent.
Wixson was chosen from among 10 applicants for the position. Valley County Commissioner Dave Pippin said Wixson had experienced everything and been involved in a lot of courtroom situations during his career.
• After a public hearing on Sept. 16, the Glasgow City Council proceeded with its proposed water rate increase of $5 per month, effective in November, with another $5 increase planned in six months.
Two residents questioned the reasons for the rate increase, and called it a sudden move, especially for people on a fixed income. Council members said the rate has not been raised since 1999 and costs have gone up. Also, the water rate has to meet a minimum to be high enough to cover costs or else the city cannot qualify for state loans for major improvements when they are needed. State water experts recommend a review and an increase every two to three years.
• Nashua residents had a chance to ask questions and voice concerns about the building of an overpass to alleviate the problem of the village's railroad crossing being blocked by trains.
Approximately 40 people were at the meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Nashua Civic Center.
A presentation of four options for construction of the overpass was presented by Tim Erickson of HDR Engineering in Billings. Also present at the meeting to field questions were MDT officials. No representative from BNSF was present.
• There's no one answering the phone at the Glasgow Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management.
"No one is available to take your call because of the government shutdown," a recorded message says.
A recording at the USDA office intones, "This office is currently closed due to the lapse in federal government funding." The voice says you may leave a message. "Your voice mail will be returned as soon as funding is restored."
There might be no posted county commodity prices in The Courier, which the FSA provides, for the duration of the shutdown.
The budget stalemate in Washington has had immediate impacts, even in the hinterlands. The funding for "non-essential" federal employees came to an abrupt halt Monday night. After midnight, most workers were furloughed for an indefinite time while Congress works out its internal power struggle.
• The Nashua Civic Center was the site for a Sept. 24 meeting between Nashua area residents, representatives from HDR Engineering of Billings and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) concerning the proposed construction of a railroad overpass in Nashua.
Points being considered in the design are alternative alignment, existing features, future traffic volume, a new intersection between Highway 117 and U.S. 2, Front Street connection, Nashua Boulevard connection, controlled stops and maintaining access to other roads.
The connection point on U.S. 2 would be near the Cemetery Road.
• The Valley County Airport Commission called a special meeting to discuss its options since Choice Aviation has asked for termination of its management and fixed base operator (FBO) contracts with the Airport Commission, effective Dec. 22.
Under these contracts, which were signed March 1, 2012, and supposed to run until June 30, 2017, Choice Aviation runs the Glasgow airport with two full-time and two part-time employees. Choice Aviation also operates airports in Ennis, Hamilton, Stevensville and Cody, Wyo.
• The Glasgow Scottie girls cross country team won its fourth consecutive state title with a commanding performance Saturday – minus their top runner all season, Josie Braaten.
Rachael Zeiger crossed the finish line first for the Scotties with a time of 20:06, followed by Amanda Wolff in 10th place with a time of 20:13. Both girls qualified for All-State with those finishing times. You must be in the top 15 to be All-State.
• In Tuesday's municipal elections, voters in Glasgow and Nashua decided to change the names at the top.
Glasgow Mayor Dan Carney, looking for his third term, lost to Becky Erickson, an 18-year veteran of the Glasgow City Council. The vote was decisive, 724 to 519. Erickson led Carney in all three wards.
In Nashua, Mayor Pat Hallett was defeated 81 to 38 by Allan Bunk, who has been Nashua's mayor before.
• A wind-driven fire burned Brandon and Misty Hendry out of their home.
Glasgow Fire Chief Brandon Brunelle said 20 firemen from the Glasgow and Long Run fire departments answered the call to 1009 2nd Ave. S. at about 10 a.m. Fire was coming out of the attic on the east side of the building when they arrived. It spread rapidly and there was no saving the house, he said.
Everyone got out safely and there were no injuries. Firefighters were done at the scene by 3:30 p.m.
• Congressman Steve Daines made two stops in Valley County on Veterans Day, capping off a long day that began with appearances in Crow Agency and Billings.
Daines greeted local Republican supporters at Sunnyside Golf Club at 4 p.m. He talked about shipping Montana coal with Ben Unterseher, a BNSF conductor who is the state legislative director for the railroad union, and called the natural resource issue our opportunity for jobs and national security.
* The Scotties football team's dream of bringing a state championship game back to the home field will have to wait another year.
Glasgow lost to the Baker Spartans, 22-7, in the Class B semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Baker. Scotties fans, the band and cheerleaders packed the Spartans stands. In the end, the Spartans were simply a better and stronger team. The Spartans controlled both the ball and the clock for most of the game, while crippling Glasgow's offense.
It was also the Spartans who ended the Scotties' playoff season last year. The Scotties lost to Baker, 16-13, in the quarterfinals. It was a close game.
• One of the hottest topics at a Glasgow City Council meeting had council members and the mayor trying to figure out how to handle higher waters. With flood being a common problem in the Glasgow area, the city council tried to discuss taking action at the meeting on Monday, Nov. 18.
A letter of intent that was signed in July 2012 gave the city two years to complete a list of items to keep the Levee in conditions that met the Army Corp of Engineers standards. Keeping those standards means being able to accept funds from FEMA to rebuild infrastructures and damage caused by a sever flood. If the list of items aren't taken care of it could also mean taxpayers would have to carry flood insurance.
The hang up over the past year to take action has been to create a Levee committee to handle issues that may need attention. Bob Kompel, the city director of public works, said that committee or not the items listed by the engineers had to be met within the next year.
• Search and rescue workers have been looking through rugged Idaho terrain for a lost plane just outside of Cascade, Idaho. The plane was carrying two residents of Glasgow and three members of their family.
Sheree Chalmers Smith, of Glasgow, and her husband Daniel Smith took off from Baker City, Ore., in the airplane piloted by Daniel Smith's father, Dale Smith. Dale's daughter, Amber Smith, and her fiancee, Jonathon Norton, were also on board the airplane.
The single-engine BE-36 Beech Bonanza, a smaller aircraft, reported an engine failure near Johnson Creek Airstrip around 3:30 p.m in Valley County, Idaho. The airstrip is about 50 miles northeast of Cascade. The Valley County Sheriff has been working with the Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho Army National Guard, the Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security and with other volunteers and members of the family.
• Flights from rural areas that sit at a long distance from major airports can be crucial and important to the local economy. Glasgow will say goodbye to Silver Airways, formally known as Gulfstream Air, and welcome Cape Air – which will provide cheaper flights.
Cape Air officially opened up for business on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place after the first flight left Glasgow for Billings. Trish Lorino, managing director of marketing and public relations, explained that the airline saw the bid for providing flights for rural Montana and they had good experience providing flights in other locations through the same program.
• Hinsdale, Saco, and Opheim school superintendents were guest speakers at a presentation Tuesday evening, Dec. 17, at the Nashua school concerning the idea of Nashua switching from a five-day to four-day school week.
And they all – Hinsdale's Julie Gaffney, Saco's Gordon Hahn and Opheim's Ed Ray – said their communities have become accustomed to the four-day week since making the switch and fully support it. Stated reasons for that included improved student attendance, reduced school transportation and lunch costs, some students being able to help out with more farm work at home, and some students using the extra day to work at part-time jobs.
• Glasgow fourth grader Rance Rhoads comes across as shy when you first meet him. The shyness quickly fades away when you ask him about his recent trip to Denver as Rhoads finished third in the 8-9 year old age group in the annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition put on by the NFL.
Rhoads took part in the competition this year thanks in large part of his parents suggesting he should.
"My parents told me about [the competition]," Rhoads said. "Honestly, I thought I should try it."
Try he did and all the effort paid off in the end.
• A Dec. 18 bond vote count after a mail election brought a narrow win for facility improvements at Frazer High School and a larger win for Frazer Elementary School. Both bonds passing will raise nearly $1.5 million to repair, restore and replace certain facilities.
Voters registered in Frazer School District 2 in Valley County mailed out their ballots from Dec. 2 to 17. There were 181 ballots sent in.
The $980,000 requested for the high school was a little tougher to swallow for voters, as 96 voted for it and 83 voted against it. Because the vote was so close it was recounted and verified through the sheriff.
More approved of the $445,000 needed for the elementary school, as 90 voted in favor and 37 voted against it.