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Economic development director joins Coal Country Coalition

Richland Economic Development (REC) Executive Director Leslie Messer was invited to be a member of the Coal Country Coalition (CCC), made up of 15 counties from central to eastern Montana.

“Because we have a small little coal mine in Savage, they wanted to have a representative of Richland County be included because of the effects of the closure of the Savage mine and how that’s going to domino through the community,” Messer said. She requested permission of REC to become a member.

There is no monetary requirement to be involved with CCC and it would mostly be a participatory basis for meetings with other coal communities who are facing or have faced facility closures.

“The most fascinating thing is to hear how these communities are adapting and how they are strategically looking at this vacant building and what they can do with it,” Messer said. “It’s fascinating to see how Colstrip is doing that and Musselshell County, Lewistown and all of those different areas. To hear them talk about what we are only on the precibus of is quite staggering.”

The board agreed it was a “no brainer” to join CCC. Messer said there may be grant dollars in the form of training dollars for former MDU employees that Richland County could benefit from.

“This is one way we can be plugged into opportunities to help our families and our economy,” Messer said.

The board approved Messer’s membership.

Sidney Young Professionals

Katie Dasinger, president of Sidney Young Professionals (SYP), reported to the REC board that Sidney was selected as the location of the 2021 Montana Young Professionals (MYP) Summit. The summit will be June 9 — 11, 2021. The theme will be “Exploring New Fields: Where Energy Meets Sustainability,” focusing on the area’s agriculture and oil field industries.

The summit will draw an estimated 100 people, as laid out in the bid submitted by SYP to MYP. Planning is still in the infancy stages, but potential activities included in the bid are a tour of OneOk, a trip to the Fairview bridge, golf at the country club and a tour of a feedlot. The summit will include breakout sessions like grant writing, fundraising, effective communication, marketing and mental health/stress management. There will also be keynote speakers, who will be announced further into planning stages.

“We are really, really, really excited,” Dasinger said. “Our first planning meeting will start this week.”

She said the group is prepared to fundraise and promote the event. SYP just returned from MYP Summit in Kalispell, where Dasinger said besides Billings and Kalispell, Sidney had the most people there, with eight young professionals attending. For 2020, Helena will host the summit.

“Sen. Tester was the wrap-up keynote speaker,” Dasinger said. “His message was continue to harness the Montana work ethic and don’t expect somebody else to solve your problems because you have every tool in your toolbox to do it if you work at it.”

SYP will host a back-to-school bash on Thursday, Aug. 8, from 6 — 8 p.m., at Pizza House.

“Sidney has something like 20 new teachers coming in,” Dasinger said. “We really wanted to approach that as well as our normal young professionals. It’s going to be a back to school networking event.”

In other news:

Tami Christensen from Sidney City Council told REC while Family Dollar has not applied for any building permits, they are still planning on adding a location in Sidney. For now, the new store is expected to be open in December of this year.

Shane Gorder from Richland County Commission said he will be representing Montana at the National Association of Counties in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Thirty-two new horse motel box stalls have been added at the fairgrounds and fair board is still working on long-range grounds improvement plan. The board will meet with commissioners on Aug. 7.

County commission was asked by Fairview City Council to help with the new ambulance barn, which is largely funded on donations. Commissioners agreed to fund the design of the new barn by Mike Stevenson, who also designed Fairview’s senior center and fire hall.

Campgrounds around town are currently full with pipeline crews. There are three major pipeline projects going on in the area.

Messer told REC the census for 2020 was of particular importance because Montana is on the brink of getting another House seat, which equates to $20,000 federally per head over the next 10 years coming to the state. Every single person counts, whether here transitionally, renting, homeowners or those with a criminal record. Messer said it is vital each person is counted. People can complete the census online or on the phone. If the census is not completed in that manner, a door-to-door survey will be available.

Photo By Nicole Lucina/Sidney Herald/  

ROI receives check donation from ONEOK

ROI board members and clients join ONEOK employees during a check donation on Tuesday, July 19, for $20,000. ONEOK donated the money to ROI to help with the cost of their new recycling center. What was once just a patio is now an enclosed area used to sort recycling. Executive director Dan Peters said, “It helped with space, we were outgrowing our old space.”

Fairview teacher wins MASBO Outstanding Business Official award

Jacki Young has worked at Fairview school district for 23 years and her dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. Young recently won the Montana Association of School Business Official [MASBO] Outstanding Business Official award.

Young has been a business official and MASBO member for 19 years and ASBO International member for nine years. During her time at Fairview, Young has spent four years as assistant clerk and 19 years as district clerk/business manager, her current position.

“Winning the MASBO Outstanding Business Official award is a huge honor,” Young said in an email. “There are over 400 schools in Montana and every school has at least one business manager.”

Young said in order to be considered for the award, a business manager has to be nominated by their work colleagues. Fairview Superintendent Luke Kloker was among the colleagues who nominated Young for the award.

“Jacki is a fixture at the Fairview School and spends countless hours helping and serving the staff and students of Fairview School,” Kloker said in his nomination letter. “She is always willing to stay and work late or drop what she is doing to help anyone that ever needs anything. She has also had a major role in the school district’s renovation projects over the years and the recent major construction project of a new gym and office area.”

Kloker also said Young is very involved in the community and is willing to do whatever it takes to help their community and school, including putting in a lot of extra hours on committees and boards throughout the county.

Young has been an official and unofficial mentor to several clerks across the state. She was a lead trainer for the MASBO New Clerk Academy where she planned and co-presented with Mike Arnold from 2012- 15. She has served as Region 3 director, vice-president, president and past-president.

During her time on the MASBO executive board, her vision and judgement were key in helping the organization successfully find their way through changes in staff, structure and governance.

Young’s work goes above and beyond that of a typical business official as she was construction foreman on multi-million dollar building projects, landlord of the 16 housing units owns by the district, tour guide for class reunions and school historian.

“Nominees must also have nominations from their peers in the field. Mine were Mike Waterman, Bozeman Director of Business Services and Lora Tauck, Ekalaka business manager. Just being nominated is a great feeling, to know how much I am appreciated. To win the award is icing on the cake,” Young said.

Young obtained a Breakfast After the Bell grant, which helped expand Fairview’s breakfast program. Because of this, there was a 60 percent increase in breakfast attendance. It is also her duty to provide information about the schools enrollment and finances to the board of trustees, church groups, city council and chamber of commerce.

Young believes the community groups appreciate the information and in return are more supportive of the school.

She assists students when they need help with scholarships, FAFSA, college applications and job shadowing for students interested in account and office work. She serves as a judge for speech and drama, and has been the music booster club treasurer since 2000. Young has participated on various state level committees and task forces representing the schools in her region and has testified countless times at the state legislative session as an advocate for Montana’s students.

“Once I was nominated, I was informed because the next step is to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about your service to your school, community and state. The applicants are reviewed by the MASBO Board and they make the final decision. So I went to the summer convention knowing I was one of the nominees. When my name was called, I was overwhelmed,” Young said.

Young said to qualify for the award, the nominee must be active not only in their own school and community, but also the state.

“I was on the MASBO Board for nine years, two of them as president. For 10 years I have taught ‘new clerks’ across the state. I walk them through what a business manager does in a school from payroll, paying the bills, to filing reports with the Office of Public Instruction,” Young said.

“I am thrilled to nominate Jacki for this very prestigious award. I can think of no one who deserves this recognition more than her,” Mike Waterman said in his nomination letter.

Young said this will be her 24th year in the business office at Fairview school.

“Everyday something new happens. I love my job, and a lot of people don’t say that,” Young said.

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Sidney police officer charged with leaving the scene of a crime

Sidney City Police officer Alex Roselles was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and basic rule — reasonable and prudent, first offense, Tuesday, July 9.

Charging documents state on Feb. 11, 2019, Roselles was in an automobile accident that caused more than $1,000 worth of damage to his vehicle and left the scene without permission from law enforcement. The second charge stems from the defendant operating the vehicle in a manner not reasonable or prudent under the conditions at the time.

In a sworn statement, Richland County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rhema Keller said he came across the accident at 1:07 a.m. on Feb. 11 on Highway 200 north of Sidney at the intersection of Country Road 351. Roselles’ red pickup was upside down in the ditch and footprints led away from the vehicle.

Keller was not able to make contact with Roselles in person or via phone until Feb. 17, when Roselles provided Keller with insurance information for the pickup but refused to speak about the crash.

The sworn statement continues, “During my investigation, I discovered that the Defendant spoke with Sergeant Tyler Kammerzell of the Sidney Police Department. Roselles told Kammerzell that Roselles was driving the night of the crash when he started to slide. Roselles was unable to bring the vehicle back under control.”

The defendant also told Kammerzell a passenger was with him at a friends house earlier that night. She told the defendant not to drive due to his consumption of alcohol and was not with him during the time of the accident.

A court date has been set for Monday, July 22, at 4:45 p.m. and a summons on complaint was issued on July 8 by Judge Savage.