1It’s open enrollment season and for anyone on Medicare, Jodi Berry, director of Commission on Aging, and Felicia Iversen are here to help. From Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, people are free to explore what plans may work better for next year.
2 Berry said even if people are happy with last year’s plan, they need to look at open enrollment options. Every year, insurance companies have until Oct. 15 to decide what medications they will cover and things can drastically change with anyone’s current plan. For example, Berry recently met with a client with a plan that cost around $300 for the whole year last year. This year, that same plan would have cost him $75,000. It’s important to look at options, because after Dec. 7, people will be locked in for the year.
3 Especially for people on a fixed income, Medicare costs are important. Berry said it’s not uncommon for people to save around $1,000 after finding a new plan for next year.
4 Berry and Iversen are both certified senior health insurance program (SHIP) counselors and have been working with Medicare as SHIP counselors for five years.
5Neither Berry nor Iversen sell insurance and do not profit from any plan chosen with their help.
6People with limited income/resources may qualify for Extra Help to pay for some health costs. Medicare estimates more than 2 million people with Medicare may be eligible for Extra Help but aren’t currently enrolled in the program. To qualify, annual income must be less than $18,735 annually ($25,365 for married couples). Even if annual income is higher, people may still qualify. Resources must also be limited to $14,390 ($28,720 for married couples). To see if you qualify, apply online at secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start or call 1-800-772-1213.
7This time of year, people are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to see Berry or Iversen at the Aging and Transit Services Building (old armory) at 2190 West Holly in Sidney. They can be reached at 406-433-3701.
8Those coming to an appointment must bring Medicare card, and list of medications and their dosages.
9Insurance plans can be switched on-site and no payment is due at the time of appointment. Berry and Iversen do not collect payment for the plan chosen.
10People can also use the new Plan Finder at medicare.gov to compare plans, or call 1-800-MEDICARE.
1 On Wednesday, Nov. 6, Richland Opportunities Inc. will host an open house to attract new employees, 3-7 p.m., West Side House at 1399 Fifth Street SW.
2 MonDak Heritage Center will host a lighted ceramic cactus class on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 1-4 p.m. Participants will glaze their own large holiday-themed cactus. All ages welcome.
3 The annual Holiday Bazaar at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church begins Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. — 2 p.m. Crafts, baked goods and gift baskets. Proceeds go to missions.
4 On Sunday, Nov. 10, Savage Community Hall and Savage Sunrise Manor host a post-harvest community dinner from 11:30 a.m. — 2 p.m. at the community hall. Free will offering meal with roast beef, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables and desserts. Musical entertainment by Redneck Country and the Sunrise Brass Band.
5 Stop by Meadowlark Public House on Sunday, Nov. 10, for Eagle Foundation Turkey Bingo, from 1-5 p.m.
The weekly Kiwanis meeting was held Thursday, Oct. 24, at noon, at Elks Lodge. The Mayor of Sidney, Rick Norby, provided updates that are important to the Sidney community. On a light-hearted note, the first update was provided by City Clerk/ Treasurer, Jessica Redfield, announcing that it was Norby’s 57th birthday.
“Today is my birthday,” he said. “But I also have an honor that my oldest son’s birthday is today too and my grandpa Norby’s was today, so this day means a lot to me.”
Norby brought up some key issues concerning Sidney residents. The first one was the E. Holly project, but he was quick to point out that it has nothing to do with the city.
The safety of Lincoln Street was another topic of discussion raised by Mayor Norby.
“In my opinion, if you live on Lincoln, I will say I’m sorry,” he said. “But that was probably one of the most unsafe streets that we had in Sidney. I believe removing the speed trap was probably one of the safest things we could have ever done.”
Putting a roundabout in that location has been considered, and Norby pointed out that could be a possibility going forward.
“Any changes in the community, you’re going to have a reaction over,” he said.
In other news
• Herman’s Car Wash and Rodiron are going to have to put in sidewalks.
• For any commercial building permits, a sidewalk could be enforced.
• The lagoon is three months past where it should be but is in the final phase of removing sludge.
• Water rates are stable.
• The budget this year is about $16 to 18 million dollars: 75 percent of the budget goes to operations and payroll. The other 25 percent goes to upgrades on equipment and projects.
• The city has put in $200,000 in snow removal equipment this year.
• The next Kiwanis meeting will be Thursday, Nov. 7 at noon at Elks Lodge.
Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center (EMCMHC) has expanded into eastern Montana, now serving the Glendive and Sidney regions. The program fills in the gaps left behind when District II lost funding
“The closing of District II was originally planned for a merger,” said Amanda Brown, who was formerly with District II and is now overseeing the merger with EMCMHC. “The merger fell through at the last hour.”
The lack of services became a point of concern for people in the far reaches of eastern Montana. EMCMHC swooped in at the 11th hour to help.
“At that point I was reached out to by the CEO here at Eastern Montana Community Mental Health about what we could do to kind of help fill that gap,” Brown said.
Offices expanded to Glendive and services expanded to Sidney. Brown said there likely won’t be the same amount of office expansion in Richland County, but they are working to coordinate additional staff for the area. That includes licensed addiction counselor (LAC) Donald Bauman.
Bauman works with ACT programs, Prime for Life and minor in possession (MIP) programs. He is based in Glendive and comes to Sidney Mondays and Fridays on a weekly basis. The ACT program is a court-ordered class people take if they get a DUI. Prime for Life is used in similar circumstances and can also address drug use.
“I work mainly through the courts,” Bauman said. “Probably 95 percent of my clientele is from court. That’s what my background is in, the department of corrections.”
A courtroom referral is not a program requirement, however, and they are set up to help anyone in need with chemical dependency (CD) or otherwise. Referrals can also come from individuals leaving incarceration, on probation or coming out of treatment and require continued care.
“They don’t have to be through the courts. We can do CD programs for anybody, that’s just the main source of what it’s been so far,” Bauman said.
Brown said EMCMHC is currently working on getting the word out about their services. As the expansion settles in, they will be looking to bring on a full-time LAC for the Sidney area.
“Donald is also a certified anger management specialist (AMS), so he’s going to be able to provide anger management services to the area as well,” Brown said.
Bauman said they will also be working with cognitive behavioral addiction as well.
“There are only two kinds of addiction: substance abuse and behavioral,” he said. “We’re going to be doing regular CD counseling of course, anger management. We are going to be getting more into CPNR, which is cognitive principle and restricting. That would be through the courts.”
Bauman said they hope to bring in a program called Thinking for Change, which he would like to see replace CPNR. That decision is ultimately left up to the court systems.
“It’s a much more friendly program,” he said. “CPNR is designed to prevent recidivism. It’s a very rigid structure and it’s usually a 40-hour program.”
EMCMHC will also provide evaluations for people who need them for legal purposes.
The availability of addiction counseling in rural communities is extremely important, Brown said, as Montana in the throws of one of its worst drug epidemics.
“We have a lot of individuals in need,” she said.
While there are a few options now around Sidney and Glendive, at this point, they are all welcomed additions from those in the industry.
“There are only so many hours in a day to see individuals. I think anything that can come in and help fill that gap, the more the merrier at this point,” Brown said.
Ultimately, everyone is on the same side against addiction.
“The goal is always the same and that’s to provide help for people in need,” Bauman said.
Brown said from a strategic standpoint, getting services established is a top priority, along with accessible information. But there’s much more to it than what’s on paper.
“It’s making sure that people have resources available, but no one’s stuck battling with something like addiction or substance use completely on their own,” she said. “Making sure that it’s there, it’s affordable and it’s accessible to individuals.”
To contact EMCHMC with questions, information requests or appointments, call 406-433-4635, weekdays from 8 a.m. – noon, and 1-5 p.m. Offices are located at 1201 West Holly, Suite 4. In Glendive, call 406-377-6075, 8 a.m. – noon, and 1-5 p.m., located at 2016 N. Merrill. The crisis line number is 40-377-6074.