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Reclaiming their lives

Tena and Brandon Johnson almost have their trailer home emptied out. Not in order to try and rebuild it, however.

The trailer was too deep in the flood water, and is a total loss, as are most of the contents.

Even the baby items could not be saved. The couple was told not to risk saving anything for the baby’s sake. Even plastic items had to be tossed.

“It’s a do-over with everything,” Brandon Johnson said.

The Johnsons were among families at a recent multi-agency resource day, looking for information and any help they could find with rebuilding their lives.

“People have been really nice, donating us a bunch of clothes and a new play pen,” Tena Johnson said. “I don’t know what we will do. We haven’t decided yet. I guess we will probably need to build a new house instead of a trailer.”

The couple are planting sugar beets and wheat. Where they can.

Many fields are still soggy and wet. Some were even still underwater last week. They are also unsure how long the tractor will last.

“The rear-end of it was under water,” Tena Johnson said.

Eight homes, including the Johnsons’ trailer in the Fairview-Cartwright area, were totally destroyed.

While that’s catastrophic to the individual families affected, it’s not enough to trigger assistance from either SBA or FEMA.

A flood relief fund has been set up by McKenzie County Emergency Management Director Karolin Jappe.

Jappe has also opened up the McKenzie County Flood Relief Fund 2019 at the First International Bank and Trust in Watford City for donations to help those affected by flooding.

Contributions to that fund can be mailed to the bank, or made online through the North Dakota Community Foundation, at https://bit.ly/2OMW98p.

NDCF has waived all its fees for administering donations to the relief effort, though credit card processing fees for contributions still apply.

All of the money collected for the relief fund will be passed through to Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response and 100 percent of it will be used for unmet needs.

An Unmet Needs Committee, composed of trusted community members from the Fairview-Cartwright area, will be formed to review applications and determine how best to divide the available money to those who need it most. This structure is similar to one Jappe used when Watford City was struck by a tornado last year.

“It’s the fairest, best way to work with people who have been put in a disaster,” Jappe said.

Homeless no more
Richland County Coalition Against Domestic Violence lands in a new home

The Richland County Coalition Against Domestic Violence is homeless no more. The program has landed, thanks to some very generous donations, in a spacious new location, with four, two-bedroom apartments.

The new facility includes a garage that will be perfect for sorting out donations, and an area that can serve as temporary office space until the facility is paid off. It also has a nice backyard area, as well as a large shed or two for storage.

Director Helen Scmitt said the space is perfect for the program’s needs.

“It’s been well taken care of and recently remodeled,” she said. “So eventually we will have wonderful space for our program.”

A $25,000 donation from ONEOK and a recent $20,000 donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation helped the Coalition afford a $150,000 downpayment on the new four-plex, located at 1401 Ninth Avenue Southwest.

There were $80,000 in local donations which were vital as well.

Initially, the program will have temporary office space just behind the garage area, just while the facility is being paid off. Three of the four apartments are being rented out to provide a funding source to pay off the facility. That leaves one apartment, with two bedrooms, to provide shelter for families who need it.

“We provide 640 shelter nights a year on average,” Schmitt said.

Obviously, that is more than one apartment can provide. The Coalition will also use motel rooms as needed during this transitionary phase.

Schmitt said the group will continue fund-raising efforts, to try and accelerate payoff of the facility, which based on the current revenue stream, is on a 20-year loan.

“We’d like to have this paid off much sooner than that,” Schmitt said. “We’d like to get it paid off in less than 10 years, if we can, so we can use all the apartments for the program.”

Richland County Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides many services besides emergency shelter. They also provide assistance with things like orders of protection, and they have an attorney who can help with parenting plans and things like that. There are support groups, and volunteers who are willing to help survivors of domestic violence find their way through the legal system.

“We do about 60 orders of protection a year,” Schmitt said.

In addition to helping with the initial trauma caused by domestic violence and providing shelter, the Coalition helps the survivors plan what’s next in their life.

“People often need more than just emergency shelter care for a week or two,” Schmitt added. “They may need a place for a few months. Paying the loan off early will allow us to have the freedom to do that.”

Rebuilding a life takes time.

“It doesn’t happen as quickly as we think it should,” she said. “It takes a while to work and build up a down payment or rent deposit. And that has become pretty hefty around here.”

Once the facility is completely paid off, three of the apartments will be used to provide shelter, and one will become an office. The temporary office space will become group space for programs like support groups and so on.

“I think this will work wonderfully for us,” Schmitt said. “We are all very happy.”

Christian Dean clears the pole vault to take first place during Sidney's invitational meet at Lambert.

Renée Jean • Sidney Herald 

Wyatt Heringer

I want to see an indoor track. If Wyoming can have it, why can’t Montana have it? I’d also like to see dual credit classes beyond the community, and maybe even to some state schools instead of community colleges. Participating in like facetime or skyping into college lectures to give you an outside view of state schools, and not just community colleges.

5 for the Next 5

1 Volunteers for the Rau School District are working hard to raise funds to install their new playground equipment. They’ve planned a couple of fundraisers, one starting this weekend, is a garage sale featuring old desks, chairs, curriculums, school and office supplies, PE items and much more. The garage sale is at Rau school in the gymnasium, located at 12138 Co. Road 350.

The weekend after that, there will be a live auction of old playground as well as an auction of delicious homemade pies. Mark your calendar for that one right now!

2 Flood-damaged items will be accepted at the E-rase your E-waste event, set for May 3 -4 in Sidney and May 4 in Fairview. You don’t have to be from Richland County to participate. Do wipe away any mud and drain out all water from these items, though, and identify them as flood damaged when you drop them off at the recycling facility. The drop-off location in Sidney is Richland County Shop at 2140 W. Holly, next to the Fairgrounds. The times are 3 to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Drop-offs are being accepted at that location during event times only.

In Fairview, e-waste will be accepted from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Fairview water depot on Ninth Street, as part of that community’s annual spring clean-up day. Seniors or others needing assistance in Fairview may call City Hall at 742-5616 prior to the event. Or, on Saturday only, call 406-489-2624.

3 Don’t miss the Richland Opportunities dinner and comedy show at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the Sidney Moose Lodge. Tickets are $35 for the roast beef dinner & no host bar. Call 406-488-3341, or purchase tickets at Sidney Chamber of Commerce, Stockman Bank, Wells Fargo Bank.

4 Also on Saturday, April 27, it’s the Father-Daughter dance from 3 to 6 p.m. at Fairview High School for ages 3 years through 5th grade. Contact Mel Hurley at 406-480-0184 for further details.

5 The deadline to apply for health care grants from Foundation for Community Care is fast approaching, on April 30. More than $325,000 available for organizations that provide health care to residents of Richland County and surrounding areas is available. Find applications and further details online at www.foundationfor communitycare.org.

American Crystal pushing Sidney Sugar growers into contract

A contract has been put together between Sidney beet growers and American Crystal, but the growers are not happy about the deal.

“They came to us with a contract to start negotiations, but they didn’t negotiate with us,” said Don Steinbeisser Jr, Sidney’s new factory director. “They’re not treating us fairly.”

Representatives of American Crystal were unable to return a phone call immediately Monday afternoon to respond.

Sidney is a good place to raise high-quality beets, and makes some of the best sugar in the world, Steinbeisser said, but the lack of fair negotiations has not been so good.

“We’re happy to grow beets, but no one is happy with the numbers or with the way American Crystal is treating us,” he said.

Under the contract, growers would get a $3.50 cut the first year; the second year, they would get a $4 cut and the third, a $4.50 cut. Steinbeisser noted that’s $4 less than what they used to get.

“In my point of view, they are trying to make it to where, in the future, we just quit raising beets,” Steinbeisser said. “They want us to just stop growing beets and quit so that it looks like it was our fault that the factory closed.”

If the factory closed, American Crystal would retain the sugar allotment from Sidney. Steinbeisser believes that is their true aim.

“They want to move the beets to North Dakota to increase the factories over there,” Steinbeisser said. “We’re certainly not going to sit here and let it happen.”

If the factory closed, it would be devastating to the region.

“It’s a lot of jobs that would be lost, he said. “There were people coming by bus from Wolf Point everyday during campaign; and there’s the taxes that Richland County and Sidney would lose…” Steinbeisser said. “The land value would decrease, the number of farmers would drop. It will be a disaster for eastern Montana and western North Dakota. I don’t think it’s right to do this and it’s not a fair way to be treated.”

He went on to add that people are nervous to speak up and cause a problem and make American Crystal mad or upset.

“People are scared to speak up,” Steinbeissers said. “I’m not on the negotiations committee, but it’s not fair what they’re doing.”