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Elks Lodge in Sidney undergoes renovations, expands offerings for customers

The Elks Lodge in Sidney has undergone many changes in the last couple years, including a bit of a building facelift and new restaurant service operating out of the kitchen facility. Ryan Laqua, Elks head trustee, said the board knew it was time for some work.

“This started a couple years ago,” Laqua said. “We started by remodeling the inside. We painted the walls, all new flooring, new lighting, things like that. Once that was completed, we started the next phase which is the outdoor project going on now.”

The outdoor area will see a whole new patio, including new concrete and a designated smoking area.

“It was time for an update,” Laqua said. “Some of things in the buildings were getting dated. Also, it’s something for the community. The Elks is a community building. It hosts anniversary parties, wedding receptions, safety meetings and various other things. The Elks is a good place for all that and we think it’s important to keep it looking nice and vibrant.”

Moe’s Smokin’ Grill has also found a home in the Elks kitchen, offering lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. — 8 p.m. Moe’s is owned and operated by Eric and Keri Brown along with Cheryl Olson, who lease the kitchen from the Elks.

“Everything seems to be going well. Everyone who comes in seems to enjoy their food,” Laqua said.

Keri said the idea for another barbecue restaurant came from her and her husband being pestered by old customers.

“Everybody just asked us to open up again and here we are,” Keri said.

The couple operated a barbecue restaurant in Fairview for about a year in 2012, but Eric has been cooking the saucy cuisine for 15 years and Keri for about 10 years. Keri said the restaurant has been busy since they opened about two months ago.

“We didn’t expect it to be like this,” Keri said. “On a good day we serve 75-100.”

The barbecue tradition goes back a long ways with Keri.

“I’ve been cooking with my mom since I was little,” she said. “We have what we call our ‘secret sprinkle,’ our own barbecue sauce.”

“The secret is in the sauce,” Olson said.

While Keri and Eric man the meat, Olson kicks in homemade goodies, like her pecan pie. The restaurant provides meals for many meeting groups, including Kiwanis, Lions, ONEok breakfast, Sun Well Services and of course Elks meetings. Moe’s caters events of all sizes, offers take-out orders as well and is child-friendly.

Moe’s Smokin’ Grill is open to the public. People do not have to be Elks members to patronize the restaurant or bar. Keri said when dart and pool leagues start-up, they will be there to serve the food.

In addition to the new restaurant, the Elks Lodge also hired new manager Missy Letherman, who comes equipped with years of bar/restaurant managerial experience.

Letherman said the restaurant and bar are mutually beneficial, as Moe’s doesn’t need a liquor license since the Elks has one and now they can offer patrons food.

For catering or take out orders from Moe’s Smokin’ Grill, call 406-480-7673.


Health
Colon cancer screening kits available at flu clinic

Free at-home colon cancer screening test kits will be available for those who are eligible at the Mass Flu Shot Clinic on Oct. 3, from 10AM to 6PM at the Richland County Health Department.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Montana and the United States, and like the flu, colorectal cancer is preventable. Colorectal cancers are those that start in either the colon or the rectum, and may be detected early through regular screening.

The free screening kit offered on Oct. 3 is call a FIT test, or a fecal immune chemical test. This is a non-invasive, at-home screening kit that tests for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of cancer. FIT does not require any diet restrictions or preparation and can be completed in the comfort of your home.

Clinic participants will be screened for eligibility for the test kit. Participants who are between ages 50 and 74, have not had a colonoscopy within the past 10 years, have not have a flexible sigmoidoscopy within the last five years, and have not had a FIT test within the last year will be offered the test kit. The test can be completed at home and submitted to the lab at Sidney Health Center to be tested for free. Test results may be shared with your healthcare provider.

The free, at-home colorectal screening FIT kits will be available for eligible participants at the Mass Flu Shot Clinic at the Richland County Health Department in the Community Services Building on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For questions regarding flu shots or the free FIT colorectal screening test kits, call the Health Department at 406-433-2207.


5 things to know

1On Wednesday, Oct. 2, visit StrongPeople class, Commission on Aging (old armory building), 2190 West Holly Street, Sidney. 12-1 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays. To learn more about the program, or get information on how to register, contact the MSU/Richland County Extension Office at 433-1206.

2In the mood for some live music this week? Check out Rhythm and Ramble Quartet, MonDak Heritage Center, Thursday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. Tickets are adult, $50; senior, $45; students, $35. For additional concert information contact Candy Markwald 406-488-4155, Jill Hill 406-489-4304, or Leann Pelvit at 433-3500.

3Also on Thursday, Oct. 3, is Richland County Health Department flu shot clinic, 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

4October is here! Celebrate the month at the Dark Acres Haunted House, starting Friday, Oct. 4, 7:30-11 p.m., 5735 137th Avenue NW, Williston, 1 mile west of Love’s Truckstop. $15 per person. Ages 12 and up.

5For the weekend, grab your girlfriends and head up to the Ladies Day Out Fall Festival, Grand Williston Hotel & Conference Center, Saturday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m. — 7 p.m. Craft and vendor show, 21 and over only.


Agriculture
Bill to help Kinsey, Sidney water users passed out of committee

Sen. Steve Daines, who is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been successful in passing an issue out of that committee to keep power costs for the Kinsey Irrigation and Sidney Water Users districts at an affordable rate.

The two groups have been part of the Pick Sloan power group for going on eight decades, but in 2017 received a notice from the Bureau of Reclamation that the agency would not renew their contracts.

Jack Connor, an administrative officer for the Bureau of Reclamation, said an audit determined that neither of the two programs had been eligible for Pick Sloan power.

“The Sidney project was constructed by Montana in 1938 and financed by a loan and grant from the Federal Public Works Administration,” he said. “Back in those days, it sounded to me like Reclamation thought it met the conditions because it was financed by us, but they later determined that was an error, because the project is not and has never been a federal project. It required a federal nexus to receive power use power rates.”

Similarly, Kinsey was built in 1937 by the Farm Security Administration, Conner said.

“It was briefly a Pick Sloan Missouri Basin Program Unit, but in 1945, the Kinsey project purchased all the project facilities, and it was basically a non-federal project at that point,” he said.

However, Raymond Bell, president of Sidney Water Users, said that farmers whose lands were being flooded by the creation of various dams in the region were to be given a high priority in Pick Sloan when it was set up in 1944.

“The trade-off was that if the Bureau and the Corps of Engineers eat up all the farmland putting in these dams, the tradeoff was to give the farmers this reasonable irrigation power, or Pick-Sloan Power,” he explained.

The arrangement was laid out by Congress in the 1944 Flood Plain Acts and irrigation districts like Sidney Water Users, Kinsey Irrigation, and the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project have been receiving low-cost power under the Pick Sloan umbrella ever since.

Lower Yellowstone is still receiving power from the group, since it has a dam that is owned by the Bureau and the Corps of Engineers at Glendive, but it is being asked to pay higher rates. The jump in rates is a separate issue that’s also being worked on with Montana’s Congressional delegation.

Bell said Bureau officials told Sidney Water Users and Kinsey as well that it would take a new act of Congress to keep the irrigation districts in the power group past 2020. Otherwise, the contracts will expire. If that happens, the districts are likely to face an astronomical rate increase for power.

“Passage of this bill will have no negative impact on any other user of Pick Sloan power,” Daines said during testimony about his bill in committee. “(The irrigation districts) have had use of this power for more than 70 years.”

Rep. Greg Gianforte has also introduced companion legislation in the House regarding the matter, which is of vital importance to about 85 farming families in the Miles City area, who are part of Kinsey Irrigation, and 45 families who are part of Sidney Water Users.

The latter serves 4,800 acres of cropland. About half of those acres are dedicated each year, depending on crop rotations, to raising sugar beets for Sidney Sugars.

“Without the SWU and their high-quality crop, the factory could be forced to close, due to lack of sugar beet acres,” Agricultural Manager Duane Peters and General Manager David Garland wrote to Montana’s Congressional Delegation in a letter of support for the legislation. “This results in hundreds of employees losing their jobs, and forcing them to move from Sidney.”

Bell said Sidney Water Users and Kinsey have been fighting the issue for two years now, trying to stay in the power group.

“This has been a big expense for us,” he added. “We have hired a lobbyist group in D.C. that is helping us with the battle. Hopefully this will get passed before the end of next year.”


What do you like to do most during the fall season?

“Play football and enjoy hunting.”

Gabe Gonsioroski

“Play football and like to hunt.”

Hunter Watson

“Just being outside.”

Alyssa Hill

“I like to watch football.”

Ben Rowe

“I would like to harvest beets.”

Jenny Norby


Photo by Amy Efta 

Making a donation of $4,111.20 from their fundraising art show are Shelly and Henri Haugen, back right. Joining the grandmother-granddaughter pair are Boys and Girls Club members, front from left, Zoey Winsky, Bryndi Stedman, Jason Parry, Liam Lucero, Gabriella Munoz, Jaida Garica, Isabella Greco and Kenzie Koch. Back row: Alaina Olmstead, Nathan Nguewoun, Zoey Weiland, Rhyann Handford, Amya Musselwhite, Zoë Gilbert, April Winsky, Shelly Haugen and Henri Haugen.