City loans Port Authority $12,400, then forgives loan

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

At the city council meeting on Tuesday, after some discussion, the council moved to loan the Pondera County Regional Port Authority $12,437.54 (PA).

The loan would closeout the city CDBG (Community Block Development Grant) fund out.

The PA uses the grant funds for economic development based on the same CDBG requirements as the city.

A motion by Karla Breding, and second by Ron Widhalm, to loan the PA the balance of the CDBG revolving loan fund, less the seven percent management fee, passed on a 4-0 vote. The same reporting requirements are in place as the previous loan(s) in order for the PA to have forgiveness.

Corrections were made in the minutes before they were passed by the council.

One was to note that Mike Koenig is replacing the curb stop not a curb.

The second was a request by I-O Editor Buck Traxler for a portion of the minutes to be stricken. One part dealt with private invitations, and the other with “recent” police publicity.

Mayor Wendy Judisch requested that the statement Traxler referred to be stricken for the minutes. With the corrections, the minutes were passed.

Sarah Converse from Sweetgrass Development and Christin Hileman from the Newfields Corp., reported on the DRNC Regional Site Survey and presented a quick slideshow.

A public meeting had been held earlier in the day regarding the survey and Brownfields grants.

Brownfields are real property, expansion or development or reuse of property which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance. The cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment.

No residential building permits were presented, prompting the mayor to suggest the cold weather may have had something to do with that.

However, three commercial permits were presented, one at 415 1st Ave. NE for a garage, one at 601 S. Main for a storage building and the third at120 S. Main for sign faces.

The oath of office was administered by Mayor Judisch to Agnes Fowler-Finance officer; Gary Dent-Chief of Police; Vaughn Farnstrom-City Judge; Kevin Moritz-Fire Chief; and Keith Hruska-Assistant Fire Chief.

Readers will recall that Moritz and Hruska were appointed to their positions in April 2013.

Councilwoman Breding was named to serve as council president.

Rebecca Brown was presented with a special certificate by the mayor.

She donated over 150 community service hours for the design and lasering of a smaller sign for City Hall, and a new sign for the drop box. The city did pay for the materials. The mayor commented, “Students need to be commended for their projects that benefit the community.”

Eugene Underdahl was not present, but received a certificate for his years of service on the board of the Northern Montana Joint Refuse Disposal and District board.

In reports, Chief Dent said the CPD received 180 calls in December. In part, they included one vandalism, six suspicious persons, two domestics, 33 public assists, 15 rides home from taverns, 19 animal complaints, four thefts and one building found open.

Cheryl Curry of the PA, told the council that the third house (Brady) has been sold and the Port Authority netted $189,835 from the sales. “We have about $27,000 into the next project,” she said, adding, “the good news is that there is significant interest from apparently qualified buyers.”

There was a meeting on Jan. 3 at Rocky Boy with Rep. Steve Daines regarding funding proposal for the project.

“We need to give him comfort that his does not require new funds, but will be funded through the Bureau of Reclamation Trust Fund that already exists,” she said.

There was another meeting on Jan. 14 concerning the rail development study.

Economic development representatives from BNSF and Watco were there to answer questions.

The city council meets every first and third Tuesday in city hall, beginning at 6 p.m.

The public is always welcome and encouraged to attend and get swept up by the buzz of your government at work.