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Year In Review

Area Residents Saw Much News During 2023

The year 2023 was full of news in the Wolf Point area. Here are some of the interesting stories in the area for each month of the year.


1. The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office honored Dhareen Villaluz as Deputy of the Year, Jared Taylor as Detention Officer of the Year and Brandy Sutton as Dispatcher of the Year. The recipients will have their names placed on a permanent plaque in the office’s lobby.

2. Veteran educator Eileen Karge starts her duties as the Wolf Point School District’s interim superintendent. Since near the beginning of the school year, Kim Hanks had been serving as interim superintendent as well as high school principal and junior high school principal. Loverty Erickson resigned as superintendent prior to the start of the school year.

3. The Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede Committee announced that Clint and Arlyss Long will serve as marshals for the 2023 Stampede.

4. Issac James Reed Cox, son of Zachary Cox and Chantelle Follet of Frazer was the first baby born at Northeast Montana Health Services. Issac weighed 7 pounds and 15 ounces. He was 20 inches long.

5. Residents provided donations after a Poplar family suffered an explosion to the house from a gas leak.


1. District Judge Katherine Bidegaray ruled that Roosevelt County attorney wasn’t an eligible candidate in the November election. The ruling came after newspaper publisher Darla Downs filed a complaint against Piocos which claimed that he wasn’t qualified because he falsely registered as an elector of Roosevelt County. Piocos provided a Roosevelt County address that was not his residence in order to register and seek the office.

2. Janet Christoffersen has been selected to serve as an interim county attorney by commissioners. Commissioners approved a fourmonth period starting as soon as she began a resident of the county.

3. Frontier School officials look into switching to a four day school week. Superintendent Patrick Drapeau notes that almost all surrounding schools are either running a four-day school week or are changing to the format.

4. The Fort Peck Tribes was one of four tribes in Montana to receive a grant from the Montana Highway Administration for road safety. The awards will include $2,500 to update an existing transportation safety plan and $200,000 for safety improvements to BIA Route 1.

5. Joshua Bushman was honored by the American Red Cross for his efforts in saving a local boy during the summer of 2022. Bushman, a lifeguard, stepped into action when the boy was struggling at Wolf Point’s swimming pool.


1. Jairo Tumonong repeated as the county champion during the Roosevelt County spelling bee. He was the only one of eight students to answer correctly during the third round of the bee that featured stu- dents from Bainville, Brockton, Culbertson, Froid, Frontier, Poplar and Wolf Point.

2. Makenize Jackson, a seventh-grade student, was presented the Wolf Point Citizenship Award for her efforts in saving a local boy at the swimming pool. At the assembly, Jackson explained that she saw the boy under the water and that he needed urgent assistance. “I went under the rope to him,” she said. “He was heavy because of the water inside him.”

3. Former Roosevelt County attorney Frank Piocos appealed to the Montana Supreme Court the ruling that he wasn’t an eligible candidate for the 2022 election. During cross examination in the Feb. 3 hearing, Piocos admitted that although he had rented property in Culbertson, it wasn’t where he lived or slept. Bidegaray wrote, “Piocos should not have been recognized as an elector at the time of his election to the office of Roosevelt County attorney because he was not a resident of Roosevelt County, Montana.”

4. Wolf Point special education teacher Patricia Payne received two state education awards. Payne earned the Distinguished Service Award from the Montana Council of Administrators of Special Education and the Teacher of the Year honor from the Montana Council for Exceptional Children. 5. During its awards dinner, the Wolf Point Elks Lodge #1764 honored the late Elsie Hanson, Jordan Clark, Louise Petersen and the late Tim Pedersen.


1. A 67-year-old Pennsylvania woman who was working in the area was found dead from drowning on April 15, in Wolf Point.

2. The Wolf Point School Board hired Dan Horsmon as the new junior high school principal. After a recommendation from a selection committee, superintendent Eileen Karge made the recommendation to hire Dan Horsmon for the position. Other applicants were Rain Escarcega Turcotte and Katie Noser.

3. Officials noted that activity at the Wolf Point Food Pantry has increased significantly during the past few months and additional donations are needed. Gary Johnson, volunteer for the food pantry, reports that during the first three months of 2023, January through March, 928 families or 3,690 individuals were served. A total of 28,405 pounds of food was distributed.

4. Angie Thompson begins duties as Wolf Point’s animal control officer. She works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. She reminds residents to keep dogs on leases and have their dogs registered with the city.

5. Officials announced that a “Saddle Up and Open the Chutes for the 100th Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede” auction is being planned. Plans from the auction will be used to help pay for some of the fun activities during the 100th Wolf Point Stampede.


1. The Wolf Point School Board approves the hiring of Dr. David Perkins as the school district’s new superintendent. A three-year contract was agreed upon. Perkins has been the superintendent in Custer for 10 years. He also has a lot of educational experience in Texas including being selected the mentor network principal of the year.

2. The Stampede auction raises nearly $20,000 during the event at the Elks Lodge. Jerald Petersen, one of the event’s organizers, said, “It was a fantastic night.”

3. Bif Loucks was selected the new Wolf Point School Board chairman during the organizational meeting. New trustees Michael J. Turcotte and Trenton Wemmer were sworn into office.

4, The Wolf Point High School’s commencement program featured 46 graduates looking ahead to their future on Sunday, May 28. Valedictorian was Aaron Boysun and salutatorian was Rebekah Landsrud.

5. Poplar High School saluted this year’s graduates with its 107th annual commencement exercises on Sunday, May 21. The class of 44 included valedictorian Josiah Sherman and salutatorian Phillip LeMay.


1. Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak visited with Roosevelt County commissioners regarding the issue of dilapidated buildings and lots in Wolf Point. Dschaak has been having positive meetings with deputy county attorney Thomas Bleicher about developing a memoriam of understanding for cities and the county to work together on building challenges. “I care about the community of Wolf Point. That’s why I make this my personal mission,” Bleicher said during an interview after the meeting.

2. Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak was pleased that work being conducted by JR Civil is progressing on the sewer project in the community. “I believe everything is on schedule,” Dschaak said. “I believe they had to add one or two extra days to deal with abandoned water lines and other utility items that weren’t marked.”

3. The Northern Plains Independent fared well in the Montana Newspaper Association’s newspaper contest. Darla Downs enjoyed great success in advertising design categories as she captured first-place honors in Division 2 for ad to sell or promote merchandise black and white and best newspaper promotional ad. In Division 1, Downs earned first place for best marketing campaign and best ad to sell to promote services in color. Downs received both the first-place and second-place awards for best breaking news photos in Division 2 for her coverage of house fires in Wolf Point. Editor Bill Vander Weele won top honors for best column writing in Division 2 for a column regarding the importance of community journalism and best sports column writing for Division 1 for a column highlighting how Class C football is special. Vander Weele and Downs teamed up to win the Division 2 award for best investigation journalism for a series of stories covering former Roosevelt County attorney Frank Piocos.

4. Fort Peck Tribes’ Red Bird Woman Center/Children’s Advocacy Center earned the community leadership award of the region from the FBI. The Red Bird Center was the recipient for the Salt Lake City Field Office which covers all of Montana, Utah and Idaho.

5. Wolf Point Junior High teacher Mandi Campbell was honored to be selected for the keynote panel during the Jobs for Montana Graduates’ IGNITE Conference held in Helena. “Our main focus was community involvement and how JMG improves communities,” Campbell noted. She was picked as an alumni speaker.


1. The Wolf Point Stampede Committee received a plaque from the PRCA in honor of the event’s 100 years during the Stampede’s opening night. The celebration attracted a large turnout, great participants for the rodeo and a super parade.

2. Due to a lack of candidates, no municipal primary elections were needed in Roosevelt County this year. Four individuals have filed for council positions in Wolf Point. The candidates were incumbents Laurie Evans in Ward 1, Craig Rodenberg in Ward 3 and Carrie Manning in Ward 4. Ken Hentges has filed for a spot in Ward 2 3. Two contestants of the wild horse races during the 100th Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede received quite a pleasant surprise on the last day of the rodeo. Thanks to a donation from an anonymous donor, the youngest and the oldest wild horse race participants each received $10,000.

4. The Spotted Bull Recovery Resource Center’s Safe Place held its grand opening during July. The facility is located at 216 Third Ave. S., Suites D-F. The program is funded through a grant from Substance Abuse Prevention Treatment AfterCare.

5. The Wolf Point City Council approved the second reading to a dispensary ordinance. Under the ordinance, a limit of three dispensaries will be enforced with two of five dispensaries being grandfathered into compliance.


1. A very forceful wind storm hit Wolf Point, causing damage to trees, power lines and creating power outages. There was a report of wind gusts of 91 miles per hour at the airport in Wolf Point. About 400 MDU customers were without power and 300 of them had service restored at about 8:45 p.m. that night. Seven poles total went down along with numerous localized power lines.

2. The Wolf Point School Bird hired Demi Wilkinson as the school district’s new business manager. Wilkinson replaced business manager/ district clerk Cheri’ Nygard, who moved to Lockwood. She has served as district clerk since 2011.

3. Janet Christoffersen, who was removed by the Roosevelt County commissioners, from the position of county attorney at the end of June, filed a complaint against the county. She requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction barring Roosevelt County from any action prohibiting her from performing the duties of Roosevelt County attorney.

4. Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Deputy Centennial “CJ” Colon was presented a Valor Award from the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association from his heroic efforts during an explosion in 2023. Colon was nominated by Roosevelt County Chief Deputy Patrick O’Connor and the nomination was approved by Sheriff Jason Frederick.

5. Many northeastern Montana communities experienced record highs on Aug 15. The high temperature at the airport in Wolf Point was 101 degrees, which tied the record set in 2003. The Glasgow airport and Dry Blood Creek each reported high temperatures of 103 degrees for the day.


1. At about 11:30 a.m. on Wednes-day, Sept. 6, searchers from the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team located the remains of Wolf Point native Stone-hail Moccasin, 18. He was found at approximately 16 river miles east of where he was last seen.

2. The Montana Supreme Court denied Frank Piocos’ appeal that he wasn’t an eligible candidate for the 2022 election. The Montana Supreme Court noted that a person may only have one residence for purposes of voting.

3. Attorney Janet Christoffersen and the Roosevelt County Commissioners each testified during a lengthly hearing as Christoffersen sought a preliminary injunction barring Roosevelt County from any action prohibiting her from performing the duties of Roosevelt County Attorney. At the end of the about 3½-hour hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 6, Judge Michael Moses requested that the parties submit their supplemental findings by Wednesday, Sept. 13. At debate is whether during a public meeting on Feb. 9, there was an agreement made on a four-month interim contract. Commissioners decided not to expand the contract during a meeting in June.

4. Students from Poplar, Brockton and Frazer were the majority of the participants during the September Suicide Awareness Walk presented by the Native Connections Project in Poplar on Friday, Sept. 15, Tatum Evenson, data manager for the suicide prevention program, noted that such a walk has been conducted in each of the last few years. “It’s important to bring awareness,” Evenson said. “We want to make sure that everybody is aware.”

5. Poplar’s Jacob “Buck” Turcotte and Frazer’s Teresa Heil were each finalists for the Montana Teacher of the Year honor. This year, 41 teachers from across the state were nominated by community members, teachers, administrators and parents.


1. Former Montana Gov. Ted. Schwinden died at the age of 98. The Wolf Point native was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1958. The Democrat served as the House majority Whip in 1961. He served as governor from 1981-1989.

2. Judge Michael G. Moses ruled in favor of attorney Janet Christoffersen in her request for a preliminary injunction barring Roosevelt County from any action prohibiting her from performing the duties of county attorney.

3. With the belief that the move will benefit county property taxpayers, the Roosevelt County Commissioners agreed on Tuesday, Oct. 3, to provide the state with 77.89 mills rather than the traditional 95 mills for public education.

The resolution notes that the commissioners have determined that the correct number of mills to be levied for fiscal year 2024 for the state equalization aid is 32.90 mills, the county elementary equalization levy is 27 mills and the high school equalization levy is 18 mills.

4. It was announced that the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign set a local record for funds raised in 2023. The total of $8,038 raised included about $5,700 from the annual golf tournament.

5. During the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board’s regular meeting Monday, Oct. 23, in Poplar, the board voted to close non-tribal bird hunting on the reservation effective immediately. Board members expressed frustration at disrespectful and confrontational behavior experienced across the reservation by tribal members.


1. Justin Gray Hawk Sr. was elected the new chairman of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes. Floyd Azure has been the chairman since 2015. Gray Hawk received 606 votes to Azure’s 549 votes.

2. Former Roosevelt County attorney Frank Piocos filed a lawsuit against the county. The action seeks declaratory relief and claims the county didn’t have authority to remove him from office.

3. Wolf Point school officials and community members gathered for the first strategic planning meeting at the high school. Among the participants were city leaders, teachers, administrators and former school board members. Debra Silk, attorney for the Montana School Boards Association, served as the meeting’s facilitator and explained that school districts that engage in the process achieve more progress for their children.

4. Mark Zilkoski was selected to serve as a trustee on the Wolf Point School Board. Zilkoski takes over for Bif Loucks, who resigned in September. The at-large position will be up for election in May 2024 as an one-year term.

5. Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board member Bryce Kirk stressed the need for federal support in the battle against fentanyl use during his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8. Kirk noted, “Fentanyl has no boundaries. It’s affecting men, women, children and elderly of all walks of life.” He explained that people deal drugs to support their own habits. “Our people can go to Spokane with $1,000 and bring 1,000 pills back and make $120,000. This is destroying families,” Kirk said.


1. The Roosevelt County Commissioners have agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the city of Wolf Point to clean up abandoned tax deeded properties in Wolf Point. Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak and Roosevelt County deputy attorney Thomas Bleicher first approached commissioners about the idea in late May.

2. The Montana Association of Counties is considering options after the Montana Supreme Court ordered counties to levy the amount calculated by the state for schools, the full 95 mills, after most county commissions had decided to levy less than that amount. A majority of counties, including Roosevelt, levied 77.9 mills, as opposed to the full 95 mills, as part of a local solution to help homeowners with anticipated increases in property taxes. Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers said the ruling might mean that county residents will receive an additional tax bill when the second half of taxes are collected. He said a letter would accompanied the bill to explain the situation to taxpayers.

3. Wolf Point High School students turned in great performances when they entertained audiences during their 37th annual Madrigal dinner on Thursday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1. The program featuring the school’s drama and music students was directed by teachers Russell Johnson and Jacob Boysun.

4. Wolf Point City Council member Lance FourStar, Valley County Sheriff Tom Boyer and the Drug Enforcement Agency have urged the Fort Peck Tribes to accept the addition of automated license plate readers to the reservation. FourStar said the resolution was passed by the Fort Peck Tribes law and justice committee by a 6-0 vote. The tribal executive board approved the recommendation on a strong vote Dec. 11. The plan is to use the ALPRs to monitor the ingress and egress of motor vehicles on the Fort Peck Reservation in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

5. Myra Pipe and Nadine Adams were voted as housing commissioners during the Wolf Point Community Organization’s meeting held on Dec. 18. The top two of six candidates were selected to the commission. Pipe received 59 votes while Adams had 41 votes. Also receiving votes were Viola Wood with 32, Kaci Wallette with 28, Susan Parker with 27 and Elizabeth Lingle with 14 votes.

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