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What advice do you have for new people moving to Sidney?

“Everyone in this community is really friendly, just try and get involved.”

Loren Schweiger

“Try to get involved in community clubs and activities. More to do than it would seem.

Shay Steinbeisser

“If you ever need any auto related help, call me.”

Gary Schoepp

“Try to meet as many people as you can.”

Bill Vander Weele

Sidewalks prove to be hot topic at Sidney City Council meeting

Sidney residents Nancy and Tom Hedegaard visited Sidney City Council during the regular meeting Monday, Sept. 16, to discuss a permit needed to expand the size of their driveway. Sidney Public Works Director Jeff Hintz told the couple they needed to add a sidewalk in order to obtain a permit. Nancy said she didn’t see that stipulation in the city code.

“I’m not sure why I would be required to do a sidewalk when I’m just replacing my driveway,” Nancy said.

Hintz said exemptions in the city code she referred to during the meeting only apply if a person is building onto their home.

“Anytime anything is done in public right-of-way, it has to be permitted,” Hintz said. “Our codes you see in front of you require every zoning district in the City of Sidney to upgrade sidewalks. If you don’t have sidewalks you need to install sidewalks. The exemption only applies if you’re building onto your house.”

Hintz said increasing the size of and improving a driveway requires the implementation of a sidewalk. It was a code established in 2014 as part of a Safe and Accessible Streets Policy. He explained the policy recognized Sidney didn’t have sidewalks in numerous neighborhoods around town and they were needed for safe transportation of children, elderly and general population.

“That’s what we passed,” he said. “We wanted to promote alternative transportation methods other than driving all the time. Your post office is going to be a big advocate of having sidewalks. There are a lot of neighborhoods in our city that don’t have sidewalks. That’s why we passed these resolutions… so that in time, the whole city will have sidewalks.”

Sidney City Planner Forrest Sanderson said he agreed with Hintz’s interpretation.

“The exemption speaks to new homes or expansion of existing homes,” Sanderson said. “The request to do work within the public right-of-way is not exempt and does trip the trigger for the installation of sidewalks regardless of zone in the City of Sidney at the owner’s expense.”

Tom Hedegaard said that answer wasn’t consistent with other work that had been going on around town.

“As an example, over on 9th Avenue, someone added an addition on their home and redid their driveway and did not put in a sidewalk,” he said.

“Ninth Avenue did not come get a permit,” Hintz said. “I could actually go over there and tell them to tear it out and make them install sidewalks.”

Nancy said it didn’t make sense that she could do an addition to her home and be exempt, but just replacing a driveway required sidewalk installation. The Hedegaard’s live on a dead-end street and they didn’t believe the sidewalk gave anyone improved access. The cost difference amounts to “several thousand,” Nancy said.

“It should be a choice,” she said. “I shouldn’t be forced to put a sidewalk on public property if I choose not to spend my money that way.”

City council member Kysa Rasmussen moved for the issue to be taken to streets and alleys committee, which will review the topic and make a recommendation to city council. Council also agreed to review properties which did not comply with the permitting process.

In other news

Sidney Police Department reported 39 arrests for the month of August. Total offenses charged were six felony, 39 misdemeanors and eight “other.” Ninety-two traffic/criminal citations were issued, 239 written warnings, one parking citation, 16 accidents investigated and 11 DUIs. There were 635 calls for service.

A change order for the Waste Water Treatment Plant project was approved in the amount of $4,793.66.

Fire marshal report for the month of August accounted for 19 calls: 13 fire and six medical. Sidney’s Public Protection Classification (PPC) remains at a four on a 10-point scale, with one being the optimal rating. PPC ratings represent property fire protection and is used by insurers of homes and businesses in calculating premiums.

City council approved a letter to be sent to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in regard to the closure of the Lewis and Clark power plant. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 11:30 a.m., in Helena in front of the PSC to address concerns about the plant’s closure. Council mirrored their letter after one sent by Richland County Commissioners. Richland Economic Development is working on transportation for citizens wishing to attend the meeting.

Photos by Amy Efta  

Women’s self-defense training

TOP: Instructors William “Mac” McKnight, left, and Sidney Police Department Officer Cole Selmo share a light moment during a serious class on Thursday, Sept. 19. McKnight is an instructor for Knights School in Vancouver, Washington, and led a women’s self-defense course organized by Sidney Police Department Officer Laura Finn.

Home in Billings in danger of falling into Yellowstone River

The rundown

Jolene and Joel Borg live in the house Jolene grew up in on the Yellowstone River in Billings; they purchased it from her parents about two years ago. On June 3 of this year, part of home — a greenhouse and a bedroom closet — crumbled into the Yellowstone River. Joel Borg is a Fairview High School alumnus.

Photos courtesy of Jolene Borg  

Joel and Jolene Borg’s home partially crumbled into the Yellowstone River in Billings on June 3 of this year.

“We didn’t expect it to go in at all. When it did, it just blew me away,” Jolene said.

Last year after the high waters came through and erosion began beneath the home. The home hasn’t always been in danger of such a catastrophe. When it was originally built in the 1940s, the home resided on 3 acres of property with plenty of land between the river and the home.

“We’ve heard a lot of, ‘That’s what happens when you build a house on the river,’ but that’s not the case,” Jolene said.

Joel and Jolene Borg’s home was originally built in the 1940s. This photo shows just how much land was between the river and the house then.

The response

After the bedroom closet fell in, the Borgs moved their belongings to a different portion of the home, but they still reside there with their two children, a daughter starting her freshman year of college at MSU-B and a 16-year-old son.

“We have nowhere else to go,” Jolene said.

Right now, the family has been able to remain without safety concerns, as the utilities all still run properly to the house. Worries are currently centered around the winter freeze and ice jams on the river, which looms too close for comfort as the months slowly creep toward fall.

The family has a GoFundMe account set up to help raise money to fix the issue, which the Borgs said their flood insurance does not cover. It’s currently raised just over $7,000. The money will help pay for an engineer and go toward reinforcing the bank.

“We’ve got about $25,000 to start this project. They said we needed about $70,000 to fix our portion of the bank,” Jolene said. Estimates continue to rise as time goes on.

What’s next

The trailer park next door to the Borg’s property is also losing land and property to the Yellowstone River. The Borgs said in order to save what’s left of their home and land, their neighbors need to reinforce the bank as well.

“If they don’t do anything, now the engineer is saying, ‘Well there’s nothing you can do with yours. It won’t last if they don’t do anything,’” Jolene said. “Now we’re just waiting to see what the trailer court is going to do.”

Part of Joel and Jolene Borg’s home in Billings can be seen overhanging the Yellowstone River shoreline, with debris from the foundation along the banks.

In the meantime, the couple owns S&B Landscaping in Billings and has started to collect the proper soil needed to reinforce the bank. They were told buying their own dirt would help reduce some of the repair costs.

What’s next for the Borgs is more patience.

“Right now it’s just a bunch of waiting,” Jolene said.

5 things to know

1Salad & Sandwich Luncheon will be Wednesday, Sept. 25, Peoples Congregational Church, 405 10th Avenue SW, 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. Free will offering, proceeds benefit the church endowment.

2On Wednesday, Sept. 25, there will be a StrongPeople class at the 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.

3On Thursday, Sept. 26, Ag in the Classroom, Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center, 8:30 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. For second and third graders in Richland County. Kids will learn about how wheat gets from the field into a loaf of bread; where hamburger, cheese, and vegetables come from; how we get sugar out of beets and honey; and how to be safe around the farm and home.

4Glendive will be busy on Saturday, Sept. 28. Enjoy the BBQ in the Badlands & Brewfest, Dawson County Fairgrounds, Glendive, 1:30-7:30 p.m. Raptor Run/Walk 5k & silent auction, Dawson County Fairgrounds, Glendive, 9:30 a.m. — 6 p.m. Junk in the Truck Vintage Market, Eastern Plains Event Center, Glendive, 8 a.m. — 3 p.m.

5Also on Saturday, Sept. 28, Little Eagles Fall Basketball, West Side Gym, an opportunity to learn skills that will help young athletes grow as a basketball player. Skills will include shooting, dribbling, passing, defense, rebounding and team play. Kindergarten through second grade is 9-9:30 a.m. Third and fourth grade are from 9:30-10 a.m.

Wherever the writing takes me

I almost gave up on my dream to become a writer. This past year, I began to think the opportunity to cover sports would never come to fruition. While at my previous jobs that weren’t related to journalism, I didn’t really want to be there. I would apply for journalism-related jobs every day before or after work, no matter where it was in the country. The stress I dealt with as a 25-year-old diabetic about to lose my parents’ insurance plan weighed on me heavily. That’s what happens when things don’t go exactly as we planned or hoped. I started to overthink and get overwhelmed while always trying to remain positive as difficult as that can be. Fortunately, I did stay positive, and after sending my resume to the Sidney Herald, my life was about to change.

Now, this kid born and currently living in the great state of Michigan, is on a 21-hour drive to Montana to work as a sportswriter.

The week prior to my move to Montana, I had the opportunity to fly out here and take a look at my new community. To say the least, it was different. As someone who has spent his whole life in big city Midwestern suburbs, with a brief stint in the Washington D.C. area, I’d consider myself a city boy. As I flew in to Williston, North Dakota, the smallest airport I have ever been in, and then driving into Sidney, I was thinking “Where am I?”

I have never really been on my own. Yes, I moved out when I began college, and haven’t lived with my parents for several years, but I’ve almost always had someone with me: my fraternal twin brother, Trevor. The first 18 years of my life growing up with him was just like any other sibling relationship consisting of a lot of fights, ridiculous arguments, laughter and love. No matter what, we always stuck together, it’s as if we were attached at the hip. If he felt pain, so did I, if I cried, so did he. We’re different people with different interests (my brother works in construction), but deep down, we’re connected in a special “twins” way. Growing up, we were always in the same classes, we played sports and video games together and we went out with friends together. After graduating from high school, we went to separate colleges for the first two years, then we both enrolled at Bowling Green State University and became roommates again. After graduating, we moved to the Washington D.C. area, where I worked as an associate producer for the Sirius XM Golf Channel. In April of this year, we moved back to Lansing, Michigan, which is much closer to “home,” and until I get in my car and embark on this journey, we’re still roommates.

I’m a writer, so it’s easy for me to wear my heart on my sleeve, I put a lot of work and passion into what I write whether it’s about sports or any other subject. Often times in my college classes, my professors remained only cautiously optimistic about the future of the journalism industry, but I always wanted to be a journalist. My whole life I have had tremendous support from a great family and some good friends that encouraged me to follow my dream. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without that level of support.

This move is as hard on them as it is on me, but they all know I really want and need to do this. I wrote for my college newspaper, but this is my first “real” journalism job. Am I perfect? No.

Will I make mistakes? Yes. Will I learn and improve from this opportunity? Yes, and I’m very grateful to the people at the Sidney Herald for giving it to me. Wherever the writing takes me, I can assure you I’m right where I belong: I’m heading home.