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Things to know about the Out of the Darkness Walk

1. Eastern Montana Out of the Darkness walk, in association with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), begins in Veterans Park on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 9 a.m. — 12 p.m. There are seven walks across Montana that are held every September.

2. Of the money earned from the walks, 50 percent stays in the state for research and prevention, education, advocacy, survivor support and awareness, while the other 50 percent goes to the national AFSP organization.

3. Nick Kallem, eastern Montana walk organizer and a member of the AFSP Montana chapter board, said when his family lost his brother to suicide in 2011, they made it their mission to raise awareness and prevention. They’ve been walking since 2013 and he joined the board last year. His mother has chaired the Missoula walk for the last four years.

4. AFSP is the largest grassroots private funder of suicide research. Of all the money raised for AFSP, 83 percent of it is put back into the cause.

5. Montana has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the nation. Contributing factors to that startling statistic include elevation, isolation, the “cowboy up” culture, lack of vitamin D and alcoholism rates. NBC News also named the strong gun culture as a factor.

6. Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk (Sept. 20) at afsp.org/easternmt. Anyone can register at the walk from the time check-in begins until the walk starts. Registration is free and open to the public. Walk donations are accepted until Dec. 31.

7. If $150 is raised by walk participants by the day of the walk, they will receive an official walk T-shirt.

MonDak Heritage Center offers After School Enrichment program

The program

For the fourth year in a row, MonDak Heritage Center began their After School Enrichment program on Wednesday, Aug. 28, with art educator Jessica Newman. The class caters to anyone age 6 and over, covers a wide range or art mediums and is broken into four sessions over the course of the school year. Up to 20 students are permitted for each session.

The philosophy

Former classes have covered wheel throwing, glass work, water color, acrylic paint — one class even made a music video. All the classes are organic to Newman, who writes all her own lesson plans.

“We do all sorts of different things,” Newman said. “A big passion point for me is working on students’ self-esteem and the association of learning with fun. It’s really important to me to have a less structured classroom. A classroom in which students feel free to express themselves creatively.”

None of the projects completed in the program are graded. Newman said she doesn’t like the limitations a grading system puts on artistic expression. It’s part of what drew her to the museum field instead of traditional art education.

“I’m trying to encourage kids. Whatever they come up with, there’s value to that and I will help them find value,” she said. “It’s not something they have to worry about succeeding or failing at.”

Her philosophy is echoed by Mondak Executive Director Cheri Friedman, who said, “Art is so subjective to an individual. What is interesting and attracts one person may not attract another. It’s the same thing with these kids learning to do different styles. They learn what they enjoy doing.”

The lessons

Each session is tailored to class interests. Newman explained that perhaps a class is really into chalk pastels. They would work on a chalk pastel project while Newman taught students the history of the genre and introduced chalk pastel works throughout history. The first session will be focused on egg tempera, a method Leonardo da Vinci famously used.

“I keep my lessons fluid,” Newman said. “That’s another really important concept to me, is to be able to take individual assessments, skill-level assessments, incorporate those into the medium and take the class where we all want to go together.”

With such a broad age range, interests can vary. The one-room school concept allows younger kids to learn from older students and the older students gain a sense of responsibility for younger peers. They also gain more a personal investment in the class.

“They can learn from somebody who’s not just a teacher, somebody they look up to,” Newman said.

Sign-up now

The first session runs from Aug. 28 — Oct. 2. People can sign up late, although the class will not be discounted. All four sessions run Aug. 28 to Oct. 2; Oct. 16 to Nov. 20; Jan. 8 to Feb. 12; and April 1 to May 6. Cost is $75/student or $65 MDHC members. To sign-up, stop by the MonDak, call (406) 433-3500, or enroll online. Sign up for all four sessions for this school year and save: $240/nonmembers or $200/members total for the four sessions.

5 things to know

1Boys and Girls Club Color Race will take place Saturday, Sept. 7, Peterson Park (next to the lodge). Registration starts at 9 a.m., race starts at 10 a.m. Cost is $25. Teams are $175. A free barbecue will take place after the run at 11 a.m. Call the club at 433-6763 for more information.

2Melissa Teel-Hartman, psychic medium, will be holding private reading sessions on Tuesday, Sept. 10, and a Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Each private session will be 30 — 60 minutes. Small group sessions can be booked upon request and are first come, first serve. To book, go to visibook.com/heartandsoulhealingarts. Private readings are $100 for single, $150 for two clients. Payment is due at time of registration. Tickets are non-refundable, but are transferable. Must be at least 16 years of age or over to participate and all minors must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

3Northwest North Dakota Semi-Annual Job Fair will be held Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Raymond Family Community Center, Williston, at 2 p.m.

4Head up to Richey on Sunday, Sept. 8, for the Corn Hole Tournament & Bingo Bash, Dip-N-Twist, at 1 p.m.

5On Wednesday, Sept. 4, and Thursday, Sept. 5, enjoy the 14th Annual Bedding Fair, Liston Room at CHI St. Alexius/Wiliston Medical Center, 7 a.m. — 6 p.m. Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward the purchase of a Zoom cart, which enables easier transfer of patients.

City improves streets utilizing BaRSAA funds

The backstory

The Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act (BaRSAA) was enacted in 2017, allocating 35 percent or $9.8 million (whichever is greater) of the motor fuel tax each fiscal year to Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) and approximately $21 million allocated to local governments by fiscal year 2021. Funds can be used for the construction, maintenance and repair of rural roads or city streets, as well as alleys and bridges. The first allocation the City of Sidney received was $47,000, which has been used for the repaving of 10th Avenue SE and NE. The project will reach it’s conclusion the last week of August.

The current scoop

Sidney Director of Public Works Jeff Hintz said the city must come up with 5 percent of the project in order to qualify for BaRSAA funding. He estimated the cost of the 10th Avenue project at just over $50,000.

The city street was in disrepair after years of beet harvest and concrete truck traffic.

“It was in really tough shape,” Hintz said.

After a few delays due to equipment failure, 10th Avenue SE and NE will be completed the last week of August 2019 after the final lift of asphalt is placed on Wednesday, Aug. 28. The city’s goal to open the road before beet harvest will be met.

What’s next

With annual BaRSAA funding available by application, Hintz said the city’s next project will be connecting 6th Avenue SE behind the high school to 14th Street SE. With the bike path’s fifth and final phase completed this summer, the irrigation lateral in the location is now piped and the streets can be connected.

“There have been citizens who live back there who have been asking for this,” Hintz said of the project.

Currently, Interstate Engineering has provided the City of Sidney with project plans. The city is waiting for a permit from MDOT for an approach on 14th Street SE, which is also a state highway (Route 488). Hintz doesn’t expect any issues in securing the permit. When the permit is handed over, the city will submit the plans for funding approval with BaRSAA.

Other future projects on the list for BaRSAA funding include establishing a curb and gutter district to address the southwest side of town between Central and Lincoln, and overlays for 14th Street SW, 9th Avenue SW and 12th Avenue SW by the hospital. Hintz said those projects are part of a 4-5 year plan.

“It’s a good program so far,” Hintz said. “We’ve never in this state had any funding, grants or monies available for street improvements. BaRSAA provides that. It’s small amounts, but it’s something. With good planning, we can do quite a bit.”

Photo by Amy Efta 

Science fun in Moose Park

Top: Second and third graders gathered in Moose Park Thursday, Aug. 29, to test contraptions constructed by students meant to protect eggs dropped from the bleachers. Cindy LaDuke, left, and partner Kenzie Koch celebrate their successful egg drop.

Right: Fourth and fifth grade students had their turn at Moose park with Henry Lafever (not pictured) with the Big Sky Science Education Enhancement projects, which also included a rocket launch. Students built rockets from kits and launched them in the park Friday, Aug. 30. The future scientists in front are, from left, Jessica Entz, Bailey Freebury and Eli Lonski.