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What's your favorite thing about farmers markets?

"I like the pretty flowers people grow."

Molly Brodhead

"I think it's a great way for the community to come together in a healthy way."

Judy LaPan

"Food! Fresh vegetables at a great price."

Don Smies

"I don't grow anything myself, but I like the option of still having fresh vegetables."

Jodi Berry

"Farm to table. Local producers producing what we eat here."

Ray Trumpower

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Lettuce Eat keeps Fairview fed for the summer

The details

Becca Deming, incoming senior at Fairview High School, created a program called “Lettuce Eat,” which provided free meals to anyone who got in line at Sharbono Park two days a week. Deming fed children as young as 2 to teenagers to parents with her program. The project served a three-fold purpose: her senior project for school, FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience and her 4-H independent study. At the Richland County Fair this year, Deming earned Best of Fair for the independent studies category. At the FFA Convention this year, Deming hopes to earn some scholarships for her work.

“I loved doing it,” Deming said. “I made friends with every age range of kids. I got to know people in the community I wouldn’t have known otherwise”

In Deming’s project binder, she documents the story of how she started the program to ease food insecurity in her community, her proposal, the permit to serve food in the park, the health inspection certification of the church kitchen she used to prep, all the flyers she passed out, a list of donors/sponsors, list of meals served and how many, and a complete list of volunteers.

Lessons learned

Deming hopes her experience and the Lettuce Eat program doesn’t end this summer. While she wants to help next summer as well, she hopes to be able to pass it on to another FFA student, who can take it on as their own Supervised Agricultural Experience.

She credits her mom, Kelly, with helping her along this summer.

“My mom is a very hands-on person, she likes to get involved,” Deming said. “She tried to let me figure it out on my own, but helped me plan meals and if I couldn’t find volunteers.”

Deming said she was thankful for all those who donated their time and money and said none of it was possible without their help. She even had special visitors from the Dream Project of New Jersey, a group of college students biking from New Jersey to Oregon empowering young people to be leaders in their communities. They made a stop in Fairview to help Deming serve a meal.

“I want it to stay in the community and keep going,” Deming said. “There were definitely times where I was at home crying, not knowing if I’d have enough volunteers or what meal to serve. It was stressful, but super fun.”

Council hears request for hemp crop at Sunrise Village subdivision

Sidney City Council listened to a request from Susie and Steve Cavanaugh with Sunrise Subdivision to begin growing hemp on the property at the Aug. 5 meeting.

“We have 90 acres over there at Sunrise Village that are part of the undeveloped area for future development,” Steve said. “We’ve been doing a little research on the hemp industry and thought, well, we’ll give it a shot.”

Steve said they would harvest the hemp for CBD oil.

“It’s not for pot,” Susie said.

The couple asked city council if there was anything prohibiting them from planting hemp on the property, which currently grows wheat. Tom Kalil, city attorney, said the property is currently zoned as R2 residential, which prohibits crop growth on the land.

“The only thing that’s been approved right now is phase one. The other stuff is all on paper,” Susie said.

Kalil told the couple they could apply for a zone change to allow for crops, but they would need to apply for a rezoning again if they decided to finish the subdivision.

“You would have to rezone it and it would have to meet the standards at that time,” Greg Anderson with Sidney building department said.

The land is currently being farmed for wheat and Susie asked council if they were not actually permitted to allow farming there under the current zoning restrictions. Anderson said the crop currently on the land is considered a cover crop, serving as weed and dust control, which is allowed on the property. A cash crop like hemp would not be considered a cover crop.

“Basically a cover crop isn’t a cash crop. They may sell it, but it’s not planted as cash crop. It’s planted just to cover the land,” Anderson said.

Kalil and council told the couple if they wished to grow hemp, they need to apply for a zone change or a variance, which would allow for a cash crop and wouldn’t require zone changes back and forth.

“A variance is usually permanent,” city clerk/treasurer Jessica Redfield said. “It goes to the board of adjustments, it has to be notified for public hearing, I have to send notice to all of the surrounding properties and then it goes before the zoning board. Then the zoning board makes a recommendation and it comes before city council. It’s a month and a half-long process.”

The Cavanaughs agreed to begin paperwork on the variance. Before leaving the meeting, Bill Linder, a citizen in attendance, asked city council about the state’s new laws concerning property phases.

“Did not the Legislature in the last Legislative session do away with phases?” Linder asked. “They will have to go through the planning process again for anything they need to do. I think it would not hurt for you to check into that for the city planning.”

Linder suggested council should check with the city planner before allowing the variance.

“I’m kind of playing the devil’s advocate here,” he said. “I don’t want to see them get into the middle of something that they shouldn’t be in the middle of because of the changes made in the last Legislative session.”

Mayor Rick Norby agreed it was something council would research.

In other news:

Thomas Kalil was given a contract to remain as the city attorney after he left Pippin Law Firm in Williston, North Dakota, to begin his own private firm. The contract allowed the city to stay with Pippin or stay with Kalil. City council member Tami Christensen made the motion to stay with Kalil and said, “I think with all the things we have going on, we’d be foolish to switch.”

Ordinance 579 was approved by council, which updates the flood plain regulations to reflect FEMA’s.

Draw 11 for the Waste Water Treatment Plant, now in phase three, was approved in the amount of $345,910.54.

Sidney Chief of Police Frank DiFonzo gave his reports from June and July to council. In June, 40 adults were arrested, 80 adults were charged (12 felonies, 57 misdemeanors, 11 “other”), 109 traffic/criminal citations issued, 531 calls for service occurred, five animals were impounded and 27.5 hours of overtime were worked. For July, DiFonzo’s report stated 33 adults were arrested, 49 charged (11 felonies, 28 misdemeanors, 10 “other”), 95 traffic/criminal citations issued, 546 calls for service occurred and 77.75 hours of overtime worked. Of those overtime hours, 63.75 of them were attributed to “homicide related overtime.”

City council member Kysa Rasmussen was approached by a teacher who asked permission to use the park for a science-based interactive educational experience in the park, with rocket launches and egg drops. City council reversed that decision with a motion to approve the request, which carried.

Molly Davidson, a storm water engineer, introduced herself to council as a potential candidate to do a storm water study for Sidney. Several solicitations are being considered for the study.

City council entered a closed executive session to discuss the open records request made by the Sidney Herald concerning the internal investigation reports for Sidney Police Department Officer Alex Roselles. Kalil told the Sidney Herald the executive session was held under the premise of subsection (4)(a) of Montana Code Annotated 2-3-203, wherein a meeting may be closed to discuss strategy to be followed with respect to litigation.

Bond reduced to $100,000 for man accused of manslaughter

A judge agreed Tuesday, Aug. 6, to lower the bond for a man accused of manslaughter after a deadly fight in downtown Williston in May, but not as much as the defense asked.

Northwest District Judge Kirsten Sjue said during a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon that lowering the bond for Justin Crites, 26, from $150,000 to $100,000 was as much as she felt comfortable doing. Misty Nehring, Crites’ public defender, had asked for his bond to be lowered to $25,000.

Crites was arrested in June and charged with manslaughter, a class B felony.

Police and prosecutors claim that early on the morning of May 4, Crites punched Jay LePage, 57, causing LePage to fall and hit his head on the sidewalk. LePage died in a Minot hospital days later.

Nehring argued during Tuesday’s bond hearing that because Crites had never been charged with a serious crime before and because he’d lived in the area for more than five years, he was not a flight risk or a danger to the community.

“There is no reason this bond needs to remain at $150,000,” she told Sjue.

Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, argued that even though Crites had limited criminal history, that didn’t mean he wasn’t a danger. Madden argued that Crites punched LePage because he thought LePage had been disrespecting the family of a fellow member of the Prairie Rattles Motorcycle Club.

“To me that’s a threat to society,” Madden said.

Madden also argued that the Prairie Rattlers are a criminal gang and affiliated with other gangs.

In documents filed in the case, investigators refer to Crites and other members of the Prairie Rattlers as members of a gang. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Crites first confronted LePage after an altercation between LePage’s wife and a woman who was related to another member of the Prairie Rattlers.

In court, however, Nehring, however, disputed that. She said the Prairie Rattles were organized in 2007 and were known for community outreach.

According to the North Dakota Secretary of State, Prairie Rattlers MC was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2007.

Sjue said she understood Nehring’s arguments, but that the charge against Crites was serious enough to warrant a high bond.

“I do think the court has a legitimate concern in this case,” she said.

Crites is next due in court for a pretrial conference on Sept. 3.

5 things to know

1Job Service Employer Committee (JSEC) will be offering a beginners and intermediate Excel Training on Monday, Aug. 12. Beginners session is 8 a.m. — noon and intermediate from 1 – 5 p.m. Elaine Stedman is instructing. Each session will be four hours and people can attend one or both. The cost is $60 per session or $100 total if attending both sessions. Training will be held at Sidney High School Library Computer Lab. Space is limited to 20 participants per session Please contact Margie Peterson, Job Service at 406-433-1204, Margie.peterson@mt.gov; or Michelle Herres, State Farm at 406-488-2400, michele.herres.eu3u@statefarm.com to register or for any questions.

2Vacation Bible School begins Monday, Aug. 12. Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church is hosting an I-Point VBS for kids entering first through sixth, as well as pre-K and kindergarten morning class. It’s a four day event. Grades one through six: 9 a.m. — 3 p.m., Monday through Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. — noon. There is no cost and a snack and lunch are provided.

3Three community groups meet Tuesday evening: Parks and Recreation Committee, city hall, 7 p.m.; Richland County Fair Board, fair office, 5:15 p.m.; and American Legion meeting, Elks, 7 p.m.

4Wednesday, Aug. 14 is the first day of school in Savage.

5The Sidney Herald is hosting a Meet the Editor Barbecue Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 5 — 7 p.m. Join us for food, conversation and fun.