Response To Dr. Taylor's OpEd
October 5, 2022
In reference to the recent opinion piece by Dr. Carolyn Taylor, the Valley County Commissioners, including the current commissioners, have long worked to support the St. Marie community. We meet with community residents and board members on issues on nearly a weekly basis. As issues or questions arise, St. Marie folks are regulars in our meetings. During our annual community meetings, the St. Marie meeting is always the best attended.
We are looked to by St. Marie residents for advice and support to resolve issues within the various governing bodies. The Commissioners have limited authority with the self-governing Water and Sewer and Fire District Boards. The Water and Sewer District and Fire District are elected boards. By statute, the commissioners appoint members to the fire board when there is a vacancy between elections. By statute, the Water and Sewer District board appoints members to fill vacancies. The commissioners have no authority concerning the Condo or Village boards.
The current commission has pursued ideas for a long-term solution for St. Marie. We recognize that Federal funds would be needed. The Executive Summary of Valley County's 2021 Growth Policy includes the following opportunity. "Working with State and Federal agencies and the state's Congressional delegation to clean up the unoccupied areas of St. Marie to maintain a sustainable community free of hazards and unoccupied, derelict buildings."
The Commissioners are currently supporting a major St. Marie Water and Sewer District water distribution upgrade by sponsoring a $450,000 Community Development Block Grant and a $250,000 American Rescue Plan Grant.
Dr. Taylor, who resides in Miles City, has contacted the commissioners to offer her services.
We have chosen not to engage her at this time.
Chairman John Fahlgren
Commissioner Paul Tweten
Commissioner Mary Armstrong