Compiled by LAUREN DONOVAN
Fort Berthold Reservation elders got the bad news last week.
A memo from the elders organization, which has offices and employees in each of the reservation's six districts, said as of Friday, "all financial and home health services are discontinued to the enrolled elders, 60 and older, on and off Fort Berthold Reservation."
There are six district coordinators and three staff.
The move comes about as the Three Affiliated Tribes council tries to get spending under control in light of an $80 million deficit through 2005, with 2006 and various business enterprises still to be audited.
Ramona Two Shields, who directs the elder program, said the organization is facing reality.
"We were willing to take our cuts," she said. "We'll be writing grant applications after we get the tax exempt status."
Still, the elders are going proactive and have started work on a petition to get a reservation-wide referendum.
The group used to get $600,000 from the tribe's JTAC trust fund interest and has been budgeted about $30,000.
The JTAC trust fund has been so heavily borrowed against, the tribe can no longer spend the interest on the elders and other programs.
Two Shields said a majority of the tribal elders voted to go into receivership; that is, to have the Bureau of Indian Affairs take over tribal operations.
Two Shields said she warned the elders that receivership is serious business, but "we feel the documents are sufficient to warrant an audit and investigation by the Office of Inspector General of JTAC, tribal and federal dollars."
Tribal councilman Malcolm Wolf said it saddens him to see the elders struggle and he's looking for outside funding.
"A loan to pay for another loan is not the answer," Wolf said. "We're going to have to tighten our belts."
- New Town News
Still chugging along
The idea of a touring passenger train running between Bismarck and Washburn keeps chugging along.
The idea made a big splash when it was introduced a year ago, and Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation president David Borlaug said it's still moving in the right direction.
Borlaug said the train might be running a year from now, if all goes well.
He said the foundation, along with the Department of Transportation, are working on a feasibility study to help decide where depots in Bismarck and Washburn should be located along the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western track.
He said the train would probably run three days a week and the ride, one way, would take about an hour and a half and there's potential to keep it going to Garrison, for the Dickens Village Festival.
Kristi Frieze, also with the foundation, said the Washburn City Commission should think about the depot when it plans the city's Renaissance zone, a tax incentive area created for redevelopment.
She said as many as 300 people will get off the train in search of something to do and someplace to shop.
Borlaug said one of the issues that will be studied is how to get the train passengers from the depot in Washburn up to the interpretive center.
"We are very, very excited and it is a huge step forward for our foundation," he said.
The McKenzie County School said school spring sport bases were already loaded with golf and track.
The board very narrowly, 4-3, voted "no" on whether it would add spring baseball to the Watford City High School's athletic lineup.
At the heart of a long discussion, following a request by baseball supporters was what it would mean to golf and track numbers.
"We know that the addition of baseball would allow more opportunity for students -." Said board member David Swenson. "But we also know that there will be an impact on other sports, we just don't know how much."
Pam Ramage said she thought any opportunity outweighs the disadvantages.
School superintendent Steve Holen, said he found it a difficult issue to discuss.
"- the administration and the coaching staff are not in favor of adding another program. I can't fully support it, but I can live with it," he said.
Holen said the school has a nice track facility and a strong track program.
"We are trying to keep the programs that we have, both academically and athletically, strong and competitive in light of declining enrollment. Based on that, it's hard to support adding baseball," Holen said.
- McKenzie County Farmer