EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is part two of three in a series reviewing each month of the year.
We’re heading into the middle portion of 2012, the part that was probably least dramatic, perhaps giving us all some time to recuperate after such a periling start to the year. Let’s continue to take a look back.
Richland County Health Department authorities notified the public they confirmed the first Pertussis case in Richland County at the beginning of the month. Commonly known as whooping cough, the contagious respiratory disease was part of a larger outbreak of the illness nationwide, which had people worry if they carried the virus.
The community of Lambert said goodbye to its long-standing landmark, the 100-year-old grain elevator when it was demolished after Nortana Grain abandoned the facility in March. The 80-foot high structure made from old growth Douglas Fir timber was built in 1914, as old as Lambert itself.
On May 4, the U.S. Department of the Interior released proposals for hydraulic fracturing methods on American Indian reservations, requiring public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, an oil and gas extraction technique that takes place thousands of feet below the surface when water, sand and chemicals are pumped at high pressures into the cracks of the rock formation releasing product. The rules were the first of their kind since the 1980s; currently, there isn’t any specific requirement for operators to dislcase these chemicals on federal and Indian lands.
News came this month that oil and gas schools lost more than $13.4 million in the first year under Senate Bill 329, as Lambert School District alone contributed about half. The funds, supposed to have gone toward school districts statewide, were deposited into the state’s general fund.
On May 15, suspects in the Sherry Arnold case pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and attempted kidnapping.
Heavy truck traffic remained a sore issue in Fairview. The town council passed an ordinance disallowing semi-trucks from driving and parking on residential streets, except to load and off-load during lunch hour, drawing some ire from residents.
Continuing Sidney’s sewer lagoon saga, city officials deemed the system “dead” to any outside sources, fearing it couldn’t handle anymore waste. “Right now, it’s kind of a crap chute,” Public Works director Jeff Hintz told the Sidney City Council at the time. “We’ve reached a point now, and we need to do something.” The city ceased all outside dumping until further notice.
Meanwhile, city officials OK’d the first phase of infrastructure work on the largest property in Sidney’s history, the Sunrise Village Subdivision.
Sidney brought home two winners after the Class A state track and field meet in Bozeman. Whitney Leuenberger repeated as shot put champion for a mark of 38 feet 7.5 inches, beating second place by one foot, seven inches. Jalyssa Gorder took first in pole vaulting as well, beating her personal record of 11 feet 3 inches by three inches.
In Class C, Lambert’s Alexis Johnson (discus and shot put), Fairview’s Cody Vitt (discus) and Savage’s boys 400-meter relay team earned state championships.
The Savage Volunteer Fire Department held its annual catfish tournament, and it was especially gratifying this year after the 2011 tourney was still in the aftermath of the flooding. This year’s tournament drew the largest calcutta to date with $28,605 being split between six teams and the fire department.
Longtime Richland County Extension agent Judy Johnson retired after 22 years in Richland County and 26 years in Extension. She was the family and consumer sciences agent.
Primary election results included David Halvorson receiving 842 votes to win the Republican primary for House District 37 over Tami Christensen. No Democrat ran for the open office.
Savage High School graduates Bridger Rice and Braden Ler were chosen male and female Student Athlete of the Year by the Sidney Herald.
The Montana Highway Patrol’s annual report was released, showing highway accidents had increased in Richland County by more than 42 percent in 2011 with six fatalities.
The Herald reported midway through May on the changes taking place in Dore, N.D., just a few miles north of Fairview, where an expanded rail facility by Musket Corp. was opening. Native Daryl Finsaas and other residents who wished to remain anonymous complained about the noise and dust; one resident said the development was “too far, too fast” with “too much traffic and loss of courtesy.”
A couple of storms ripped through northwest Richland County on June 24 near Mona where strong winds of more than 70 mph were recorded along with funnel clouds, heavy rain and pea-size hail. Damage to trees, oil field equipment and grain bins were among casualties. No injuries were reported.
The fifth annual Town & Country Festival featured street entertainment, food, dancing, parade, rodeo and a new event, the Bakken Barrel Daze, a barrel race.
Richland County commissioners OK’d a $2.5 million project to extend the city of Sidney’s sewer and water lines south of town for new developments.
Firefighters fought three grass fires simultaneously on Montana Highway 23 southeast of Sidney. It was certainly a busy summer for the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and surrounding departments whose personnel responded to several grass fires triggered by lightening or farm machinery through heat friction or sparks off rocks. The vast majority of fires this year were accidental, but a few were manmade from fireworks.
On July 3, emergency responders investigated the possible drowning of a 28-year-old Colorado man at Gartside Reservoir. He was flown to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings for treatment.
On July 5, police arrested 34-year-old Shane Alan Lee after pummeling into the long-standing windmill at Millers’ Corner the night of Fourth of July. He was arrested on five charges of driving under the influence of intoxicants, fourth or subsequent offense, a felony, fleeing or eluding a peace officer, two counts of criminal endangerment and an open container violation.
Getting subdivisions rolling along, the Sidney City Council gave the OK to annex Pheasant Run Subdivision into city limits.
The Sunrise Festival of the Arts drew a couple thousand to Sidney’s Veterans Memorial Park for a day of shopping and art appreciation.
Lifelong resident ElRoy Kittleson was featured on the Fairview Oldtimer’s Festival button. The Kittleson family has five generations in Fairview.
Sidney High School head wrestling coach Guy Melby, in his 27th year at Sidney, was named coach of the year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association. “For me to get picked was awfully shocking,” he told the Herald. “It’s pretty surreal yet.” It was his third time as a finalist.
The MonDak Relay for Life on July 27 drew 12 teams and raised $49,000 for the American Cancer Society. Theresa Livers, a three-time cancer survivor, was keynote speaker.
This month began with a bang when the Sidney Tiger Sharks swim team repeated as state Class AA champions in Columbia Falls. This was the team’s 11th title in 13 years.
The Richland County Fair and Rodeo attracted 27,000 people, not as much as the year before (29,000), but still a strong showing. Officials believed attendance in Richland County was helped somewhat last year by the cancellation of the North Dakota State Fair in Minot due to flooding. The concert featured Joe Nichols and John Anderson for an audience of 2,500.
A record was set at the Boys & Girls Club of Richland County when 100 registration spots were filled in 43 minutes. Parents began lining up at 3:30 a.m. so they could be sure to get their child signed up for a program in demand. The turnout proved to be what Boys & Girls Club leaders already knew. “That just proves to us this is a needed program for parents,” program director Sara Berndt said.
Fairview town leaders revealed they face $2.5 million in street repairs with no clear-cut solution on how to address it. Mayor Bryan Cummins openly blamed truck traffic. He and other town officials said they’re tired of their streets being “torn to hell.”
A Richland County jail inmate pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after an attack on Michael Spell, the suspect in the Sherry Arnold case. Thomas David Kilbury of Missouri was already in jail on previous charges when he acted on what appeared to be a pre-planned scheme. He was sentenced to six months in jail with a $585 fine at $75 per day paid toward the fine.
Sidney city leaders re-affirmed their position that they wouldn’t kick people out of trailers or remove them from yards and properties due to the housing shortage. Officials would later change their minds.
Two subdivisions broke ground in August which were long-time coming. The Pheasant Run Subdivision with 250 apartments planned on 20 acres began construction next to the Northview Subdivision. “I’m glad to be in the city of Sidney, and I’m happy to have this under way for the city and the community,” developer Chris Storm said.
Meanwhile, Sidney’s largest subdivision, Sunrise Village, began construction on 144 acres for 300-plus single-family units alone after the property was listed for sale 18 months earlier. The subdivision increases the city’s area size by about a third.
The city of Sidney and the Department of Environmental Quality finally came to an agreement as the officials agreed to the administrative order of consent, the first step to become compliant with state regulations for sewer lagoons. City officials feared public backlash and punishment from the department, but the state says it’s willing to be flexible as Sidney finds its way through the magnificent energy boom.