School District 2 leaves Lockwood off high school redistricting committee

LOCKWOOD — The issue of high school redistricting in Billings School District 2 generated extensive conversation during the meeting of the Lockwood School Board on Tuesday evening.

Conrad Stroebe, a Lockwood resident who for many years represented Lockwood on the SD2 board, brought his concerns to the Lockwood Board of trustees. He was accompanied by his wife, Teresa, who also served in that position at one time and is a former member of the Lockwood School board.

Conrad informed the board that as of Tuesday morning, there was no representation from Lockwood on the team of volunteers that SD2’s professional consultant, Matthew Cropper, and SD2 Superintendent Terry Bouck had assembled.

Cropper said that they had received no applicants from Lockwood and rejected Stroebe serving because he has an agenda that Cropper said has no place in an exercise aimed at serving ”the needs of every student as a whole and not just the area they live.” However, by day’s end on Tuesday, Cropper reported having asked former Lockwood School Board member Jen Wagoner to serve on the committee which will provide input in the process.

In an email he sent to SD2 officials, Cropper said, “It’s too bad it took this long to get someone on board, but in the end, it’s a better group.”

The action came after Stroebe appealed in an email to Cropper and Bouck, “Please let our community participate! Please let all the feeder school communities participate! Lockwood has 10 percent of the high school kids attending two of the three Billings high schools — and no representation on the Cropper committee. Our kids and their families are forced to spend an extra hour a day commuting, often giving up participation in activities. Billings Public Schools spends $6 million in transportation . . . that could be saved with true neighborhood walkable, bikeable schools. ($1,700 for each of the 3,500 bused kids — and that implies another $20+ million private transportation [costs] for the other 13,000 students.)”

Stroebe asked for more than one Lockwood representative.

“I am not trying to block your ‘productivity’ — I just want the feeder school kids to have the same amount of representation as the kids in the Billings elementary trustee sub-districts. At 28 members for seven Billings elementary subdistricts, that is four members from each, thus eight from the two feeder sub-districts… For you to imply that global input is more valuable than local input is just wrong,” wrote Stroebe.

Cropper responded, “The study team has been selected read more

Shepherd forfeits first football game after missing required practice

SHEPHERD — The Shepherd High School Mustangs football team forfeited their first game of the season to Joliet last Friday, starting their season with a loss.

The team didn’t practice enough times between Aug. 14, the first day allowed by the Montana High School Association, and Aug. 28, game day, according to Jeff Armstrong, activities director at the school.

Armstrong said the state activities association requires football players to practice 12 times on 12 different days before they can participate in a game. With only 14 days available, “it’s a pretty tight window,” Armstrong said. Even two-a-day practices count as only one practice, he said. This is the second year the state association required 12 practices, Armstrong said. Other sports like volleyball need 10 and golf needs only three preseason practices. Armstrong said that’s because football players need more conditioning. The state regulates the type of practices: “The first three days of football practice will be a period of acclimation with no contact and no pads,” association rules state. “The only football equipment to be used is shoes and helmets. Non-contact is defined as no student-to-student contact. However, participants may contact dummies/shields held by others.”

Contact is allowed in later practices.

Coach Adam Sanchez thought his team of 42 players had practiced enough to meet the regulations, Armstrong said. He gave the team Saturday, Aug. 22, off.

“Honestly, it was just a simple calendar mistake,” Armstrong said. “When he did figure it out, it was too late.”

“He just gave them a day off,” Armstrong said. “They’re tired, it’s smoky.” But the team needed to practice both Saturdays to comply with the rule since Sunday practices aren’t allowed, he said.

The coach, in his sixth year coaching at Shepherd, is “totally embarrassed and upset,” Armstrong said.

“It’s kind of embarrassing from a school standpoint,” Armstrong conceded. “I can’t even fathom it.”

Even if the team had practiced enough times, there would have been individual players who had not practiced enough to take the field with the team that night, Armstrong said.

Late Friday afternoon, they self-reported to the state association and forfeited to Joliet, which starts the season with a 2-0 win. Armstrong said he asked Joliet to consider rescheduling, but so far that team has declined.

“I tried to get it rescheduled for the next night, but Joliet wouldn’t come,” he said.

The Shepherd Booster Club went ahead with its planned “Blue and Gold tailgate party,” which included a volleyball scrimmage, despite the game being canceled.

“Surprisingly, the tailgate party had a great turnout,” said organizer Tracy Kern. “The Booster Club had a moment of panic when we heard they were going to cancel the football game, but all went well — we simply just went on as planned.

As soon as the game was canceled, school officials notified all the parents.

“Most of our parents were cool with it.” Armstrong said. “They weren’t overly upset.”

The team or school could have been fined or suspended from competition if they had played in violation of the rules, Armstrong said. The team is looking ahead now to Friday night’s contest with the Red Lodge Rams.

“It’s just a mistake,” Armstrong said. “We’ll move past it.”


For more information regarding Shepherd news, events and information,  visit the Shepherd Community Website at

Worden educator named “AgriScience Ambassador” by DuPont NATAA

Robert Yates (above), agriscience teacher, and Jo Ann Pfeiffer, NATAA facilitator, demonstrate how solar energy can be used to pump water to irrigate crops in remote locations around the world.

WORDEN – Robert Yates, an agriscience teacher at Huntley Project High School, successfully completed the 13th annual DuPont National AgriScience Teachers Ambassador Academy (NATAA) at the company’s Chesapeake Farms in Chestertown, Md. Upon receiving the certificate of completion, Yates became an “Ag Ambassador,” joining the other 322 outstanding teachers from across the country who have attended NATAA and earned that designation. read more

Kitchens completes four-year post as manager at Pompeys Pillar

POMPEYS PILLAR — Jeff Kitchens is going to enjoy Clark Days, from the early morning pancakes to the embers glowing in the evening campfire as he tells one last ghost story.

It’s his last day as manager of Pompeys Pillar National Monument before his next post as field manager in the BLM’s Prineville District in Oregon.

Kitchens loves working in the Bureau of Land Management because of the collaborative relationships it requires.

“What makes the job, and the BLM, so unique,” Kitchens said, is the land pattern — while Forest Service land usually has a contiguous boundary BLM land usually evolved from several sources and can form a checkerboard or atypical pattern. read more

A new Master Plan for Shepherd School District 37

Dear Editor:

A new Master Plan for Shepherd School District 37: After several years of building facility assessments, community meetings, and space programming, the Shepherd School District has settled on a course of action, and plans to run a mail-in ballot, for bond election, this coming fall.

The process began in August of 2008, with a Building Assessment report, performed by MGT of Washington state. The information gathered in this report outlined each of the district facilities, and listed ADA concerns, structural stability, energy efficiency, and useful life of the building systems. read more

Community Calendar July 24th-July 31st, 2015

• Worden Senior Lunch, VFW Hall, 2445 Main Street
• Heights Senior Lunch, Hope United Methodist Church, 244 Wicks Lane

• Clark Days at Pompey’s Pillar Monument (See page 7 for schedule of events)

• District 4 Fiddlers outdoor concert at South Park Senior Center in Billings, Potluck, Dancing from 1-4pm.

• Custer Senior Lunch, 322 6th Street
• Heights Senior Lunch, Hope United Methodist Church, 244 Wicks Lane

• Lockwood Senior Lunch 1413 Rosebud Lane
• Huntley Project Lions Club Meeting, Homesteader Hall, 7 p.m.
• Heights Senior Lunch, Hope United Methodist Church, 244 Wicks Lane

• Shepherd Senior Lunch, Feedlot Steakhouse, 11:30 a.m
• Huntley Project Masonic Lodge Meeting, Masonic Lodge, Worden, 7:30 p.m.
• Heights Senior Lunch, Hope United Methodist Church, 244 Wicks Lane

• Custer Senior Lunch, 322 6th Street
• Lockwood Senior Lunch 1413 Rosebud Lane
• Heights Senior Lunch, Hope United Methodist Church, 244 Wicks Lane

• Wrangler Team Roping Championships event, @ Blue Cat Arena in Huntley. Entries at 6pm and Rope at 7pm
• Huntley Alcoholics Anonymous meets every Friday at 7 p.m. at Huntley United Methodist Church. AA Hotline 657-0776

Sindelar charged in Ballantine shooting death of son

Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies, Montana Highway Patrol troopers and emergency medical personnel responded to the home of Wesley Brian Sindelar on Thunderstick Road in Ballantine Monday evening after his father, James Sindelar, called 911 to report he had shot his son with a handgun. (Jonathan McNiven photo)

Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies, Montana Highway Patrol troopers and emergency medical personnel responded to the home of Wesley Brian Sindelar on Thunderstick Road in Ballantine Monday evening after his father, James Sindelar, called 911 to report he had shot his son with a handgun. (Jonathan McNiven photo)

BALLANTINE — A Ballantine man was charged in Yellowstone County Justice Court Wednesday afternoon with negligent homicide after he allegedly went to the home of his son, where he shot and killed him Monday night.

James Douglas Sindelar, 73, allegedly told a sheriff’s detective that he shot his son, Wesley Brian Sindelar, after struggling with him over a handgun at his home on Thunderstick Road off Highline Canal Road. read more

County officials continue compensation board work

yellowstone county

by Evelyn Pyburn-originally posted in the Yellowstone County News Newspaper

BILLINGS — Two more hearings have been set for the Yellowstone County Elected Official Compensation Board. Following their rejection of the Board’s earlier recommendation Yellowstone County Commissioners are asking the board to reconvene to make another recommendation.

The board met Monday and will meet again at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in the Commissioners Conference Room on fourth floor.

The commissioners also re-appointed the read more

Accounting error in State Audit ???

“In my fourteen years on Audit this is the first time the financials for Montana shouts of incompetency within the department.”

Montana Senator Dee Brown

Guest Articleby Senator Dee Brown, Legislative Audit Committee

The financial audit for the State of Montana revealed some disturbing problems today in front of the Legislative Audit Committee in Helena. The audit detailed that the Department of Administration does not have adequate internal controls to ensure accuracy of our finances, nor are they properly reviewed or issued in a timely fashion.

Some of the examples include: transportation expenses overstated by about $220 million, capital grants and contributions for Natural Resources understated by $445 million and transfers of about $47.8 million which were omitted entirely.

The hundreds of millions of dollars not accounted for properly are huge red flags for anyone reading the audit, but the one that made my eyes bulge was the overstatement of approximately $1 billion of accumulated depreciation related to infrastructure. Yes, that’s with a ‘b’ as in billion.

The errors have been read more

County labor negotiations nearing conclusion

yellowstone county2
BILLINGS — Yellowstone County is negotiating with two unions to renew labor contracts. The negotiations have been going on since March and have gone smoothly, according to Dwight Vigness, the county’s human resource officer. He told county commissioners in a discussion on Monday that they are coming closer together and he expects a conclusion relatively soon with the MPEA (Montana Public Employees Association) and the county attorneys.

Vigness explained that he hopes to get four-year contracts with both read more

Rep. Tom Richmond assailed by critics at Pachyderm lunch

Tom Richmond

Tom Richmond

BILLINGS — Rep. Tom Richmond encountered considerable criticism from his audience when he gave his perspective regarding the successes and failures of the 2015 state legislative session, before the Billings Pachyderm Club in Billings on June 11. One woman became quite emotional and started crying about his support of Medicaid expansion.

Also calling Richmond to task for some of his positions was Barry Usher, who was a contender to fill the House seat to which Richmond was appointed following the resignation of Jonathan McNiven. Usher said that Richmond was appointed based upon his answers regarding his positions on several issues. Usher claimed that Richmond’s voting record was not in keeping with those answers.

About expanding the state’s Medicaid program to reach an additional 70,000 recipients, Richmond said, “I was in a box on this. I pledged not to advance Obamacare,” but this bill helped people who could not afford insurance, and it still required that they pay a premium. The legislation created the HELP program, which, he said, “isn’t read more