10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

Commission Minutes – March 20-24, 2023

Commission Minutes – March 20-24, 2023

MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2023


PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Christa Alford, Minute Recorder; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder


The Pledge of Allegiance was held in the Commissioner’s Office to start off the week.


Lisa Rieger, DOR, joined for Public Comment.

             Lisa met to inform the Commission that she received a job promotion; she will remain in DOR but moving out of appraisal position. The department plans to open the job with HR within the next few days. The office has coverage and will keep everything up and running. Lisa is still available for anything needed, until a new appraiser is hired. Commission thanked her and congratulated her on the promotion. Lisa will still work Monday through Thursday, and someone will cover Fridays.

9:50 AM Lisa left Public Comment.

9:57 AM Pam Nelson, Public Member, joined.

             Pam cannot be here this afternoon, so wanted to come this morning.  She stated she is not in favor of remodeling the barn. The Commission stated they are not remodeling the barn.  Pam asked what they were doing then. Commissioner Braun stated they are discussing placing ADA bleachers in the barn, but not remodeling the barn. Pam stated that the barn is probably the most used of all county buildings. Commissioner Baldwin stated they had no intention of remodeling the barn. Commissioner Braun stated that it has been, and always will be, a 4H barn. Pam asked if there were plans to cement the floor. Commissioner Braun stated that it was a conversation, brought up with the daycare discussion; also stated that social media does not help the conversation. Pam agreed and stated that the whole picture was not presented. Pam also stated that the minutes presented a narrow statement and was not specific enough to clarify the purpose of the discussion. Pam also stated hauling dirt in/out would be quite the project. Commissioner Braun stated that yes it would be and cementing the floor would be cheaper than a $10 million facility, but again, that is just a figure on the cost. Getting rid of the wooden bleachers would improve the air quality in the livestock barn. Pam stated that she is not saying there shouldn’t be an event center. She has been to a lot of events in the county, and at the last event she attended, there were only 12 people that showed up. That really does not justify turning the livestock barn into a community event center. If people want the community event center, they should show up to the events that are currently held. Commissioner Braun stated that the fair, concert and rodeo events are examples of this; we are losing community member attendance.

10:03 AM Pam left Public Comment.

10:03 AM ROAD/SHOP UPDATES/Mark Sieler, Road Foreman; Mitch Overn/Carl Overland, Shop Mechanics

         Road Updates- Commissioner Baldwin asked Mark if the county was assisting the city with snow removal again. Mark stated they moved snow from the hospital, likethey normally do. Discussed the manhole cover in Stanhope Addition; Mark said it is not located on the road, it’s on the shoulder and sticks up above the street. Mark feels there needs to be pavement placed around manhole. Commissioner Rost asked if the manhole was damaged; Mark said there was no damage. Property owner placed flag near the manhole to mark it. Mark stated it is on the list for repair this summer. They are doing some snow removal; hauling gravel today and then will start hauling scoria. 

         Shop Updates- Carl said last week was just minor repairs here and there. Commissioner Baldwin asked if they ordered the diagnostic equipment. Carl said he ordered it, and it should be here Thursday. Commissioner Baldwin asked Mitch if he had anything additional to add, then asked Commission if there was anything else.

Commissioner Rost thanked the road department for all they do for the county. Asked if they did anything on Sunday. Not as much as they thought they would need to do.

10:20 AM Mark, Carl and Mitch left the meeting.


Location: Courthouse basement conference room

Attendance: Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering; Brock Turner, Century Companies; Steve Zachmann, Mayor and Kevin Dukart, City Clerk-City of Baker; Commissioners Baldwin, Braun and Rost; Christa Alford, Minute Recorder; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder

             The County project bid was held in conjunction with the City of Baker project bids. Three bids were received from – Century Companies-Lewistown, MT; JK Excavation-Dickinson, ND; Hard Drives-Billings, MT.  The county portion of the bid (6th Street West Box Culvert) received no bids. The bids received were for the City of Baker projects only. 

10:50 AM Everyone left the bid opening. 

10:51 AM County Commission Office

11:00 AM PROJECT UPDATES/Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering

11:00 AM Richard Menger, Sanitarian joined the meeting.

6th Street West box culvert project-Shannon was surprised that the commission did not receive any bids for the box culvert project. Commissioner Baldwin asked where the city stands regarding the bids. Shannon could not answer that at this point but intended to discuss it with the city after this meeting. Shannon stated the box culvert is structurally sound but is hydraulically deficient.  The city projects were discussed and will be running these through the SID process.  Should the low bidder agree to add the 6th Street West reconstruction to their portion of the project, the county’s box culvert could also be included. 

The possibility of rebidding the 6th Street West box culvert this year was further discussed. Shannon did not think they would get any bids this year unless they plan to push the completion time frame out to next year. Shannon said if the county bids now, the county may receive a precast box culvert by next summer; right now, cast-in-place is the only option.

Erosion control/wetlands channel – Discussed the gravel placed on the ice for the wetlands channel erosion control project.  Rich felt they should be able to see if the rock placement is in the correct area before it mosses over, or weeds start to grow.

Golf Course irrigation-Rich discussed the need for remote setup for the chemical building, used for the golf course irrigation project. The reason for this is due to the fact it is three (3) miles from the golf course to the building at the lagoon. Rich stated he spoke with Winn Marion, from Billings, regarding remote set up. Shannon has another company to speak with, so more than one quote is received.

Rich would like to gather various types of information such as run times, flow rates, pH balance, alkalinity and anything else that can be received locally. This would save costs so there would be no need to send tests to a lab in Billings. Rich stated lab fees would be more than the instrumentation costs, over the long haul. Shannon explained the difference between a non-proprietary company and a proprietary company. Shannon stated Proprietary Companies such as Winn-Marion do not allow anyone, other than themselves, to work on the equipment or make set up changes.

6th Street West box culvert– Discussed the status of the state flood mapping and possibly working this project in with the channel lining project if the project is not completed before that time. The channel lining would start at the spillway and would run all the way to 6th Street West.  Currently there are approximately 1,300 lineal feet of precast liners on hand, but the channel is over 4,000 lineal feet. Shannon stated the county could bid to use the existing liners. Discussed a use for the existing liners the county has on hand; erosion control was discussed or when bidding the channel project, they could be used as alternates. Discussed who is responsible to maintain the channel; that would be the county. Also discussed the level of maintenance would be up to the county as well. Shannon stated the current drop in the channel would allow it to flow, however, it will still hold silt. Shannon also stated the run, from the spillway to 1st Street West, would be the best portion of the channel to use the liners.

                Other discussion-Commissioner Rost discussed the walk bridge located in the city park and asked if that bridge impedes the flow. Shannon felt the cattails sitting between 4th and 5th streets were the biggest problem. Shannon had been told it was felt the walk bridge was impeding the flow, so they looked into it at that time. Basically, that park is within the floodplain, and it backs up water anyway; also, the snow and repeated thawing causes issues such as ice jams. Typically parks across the state are located in the floodplain because nothing else can be built in those areas. The hope is the county will be released from the EPA constraints this summer and the county can complete the project as an alternate. Shannon stated the city wants to move forward with the 6th Street West renovation project. Commissioner Rost did not feel that should affect the county’s bridge project. Commissioner Baldwin asked if the county would hear from the city regarding their projects. Shannon said more would be known after the city council meeting this Wednesday. Shannon also hopes to hear from contractors by then. Commissioner Rost asked how long scrub seal lasts. Shannon said typically it lasts 5-7 years. The Commission asked if the city has a maintenance plan for the streets moving forward. Shannon stated they do, and the city also wants to form a maintenance district.

11:25 AM Barbara Ketterling, County Treasurer/Assessor, joined the meeting.

Shannon has not heard from the Army Corps of Engineers yet on the 6th Street West box culvert, other than the plans have been received, but not if plans have been reviewed. 

11:27 AM Julie Straub, HRM, and Debbie Wyrick, Deputy Clerk and Recorder, joined the meeting.

                Wetlands EPA matter-Shannon spoke with Tom and Marissa, Geum Environmental, regarding the channel and Baker Lake wetlands. Shannon said that Geum Environmental plans to come the end of August, but if it was dry enough, they could come earlier. Shannon said early August would be the best time. Commissioner Baldwin asked if EPA would come to that meeting and Shannon said he would need to contact them and ask. The Commission thanked Shannon.

11:32 AM Shannon and Rich left the meeting.

Barb gave the Commission a copy of the County Treasurer Cash report for February, 2023.

11:33AM Barb left the meeting.


          Julie opened the meeting with a proposed paid emergency leave policy. She added/made changes based on January’s meeting with the Commission. Julie stated ultimately making a decision will come down to the Commission. Sometimes in retrospect, it depends on the severity of circumstances. Commissioner Braun discussed further clarifications he would like made to the policy. Julie stated that two weeks ago, a few individuals were affected by the weather; no one had approached her about it. Commissioner Braun asked if employees stayed home and used their leave. Debbie stated they will know when the time sheets are received. Commissioner Braun asked if it would complicate payroll any more than normal. Debbie stated payroll won’t be affected any more than challenges they already have. Commissioner Braun asked if the decisions would be at the discretion of the Commission. Julie said yes. Commissioner Baldwin said that instead of having this discussion over and over, we decide as a Commission if paid emergency leave would be authorized. Commissioner Braun stated we could do this on a trial basis for one year. Commissioner Rost added that the Commission could then re-evaluate. Julie stated that gives the Commission time to discuss what is considered an emergency when it comes to employees. Commission all agreed they did not have issues with the policy in general.

         Discussion took place regarding an appropriate effective date for the policy and the process before the policy is adopted.  The policy would be put out to the employees for a two-week comment period before placing it on the agenda.  Brenda will find out if a resolution is necessary before adopting the policy.  The Commission would not make a decision on how this would affect employees’ timesheets until after the event. The Commission will discuss the event with the Sheriff and DES, as well as other factors before making any decisions.  Timesheets should reflect vacation or sick leave and include an explanation, then the Commission will make a determination.

          Julie discussed storms such as the one in December, included below freezing temperatures and asked if employees would be allowed emergency paid leave. Commissioner Baldwin stated he thinks they should be able to determine that, in those situations. Debbie discussed placing payroll on the agenda after an event to cover time sheets and further discussed snow events in the past month. Commissioner Baldwin agreed payroll should be included in the discussion. Discussed the commission making a decision after the event; emergency paid leave was also discussed, if it is determined that an event qualifies as an emergency.  May discuss the policy at open enrollment rather than sending a MEMO that will be determined after further discussion on the policy. Julie appreciates the Commission being open to a policy to ensure that employee safety is of the utmost priority.

          Will need to further discuss the appropriate language for the policy; will need to determine who will be in charge of making the determination if an employee should stay home. The employee must use vacation or sick leave (if they have no vacation) until a determination is made. The Commission feels comfortable with allowing 24 hours of paid emergency per year and the commission can reserve the right to alter this number as situations arise. It is felt there would be less abuse if there was a formal process as to how this is to be used versus employees deciding how to use it. Will look at this month’s timesheets and report if there were any issues.

           No decisions were made at this time. 

           The Commission thanked Julie and Debbie for their time.

12:10 PM Julie and Debbie left the meeting.

12:11PM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.

Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

          NOON RECESS

PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun, Roy Rost, Members; Christa Alford, Minute Recorder; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



Location:  Courtroom

Present: Members of the Public: Marty Asay; Tana Taylor; Judy L. Whitney, Rachelle Christiaens; Rose Heiser; Donna Rowe; Christina Gaub; Jim Neary; Douglas Rowe; Shelley Mackay Dean; Tyler Dahl; Sherry Varner; Melissa Foster; Jessica Batterman; Debbie Jo Varner; Val Zupanik; Barnet J. Dean; Molly Losing; Joey Brewer; Tammy Witcher; Staci Downing; Robert Thielen; Merri Beck; Clayton Graham; DeAnna Herbst; Dee Dee Geving; John Geving; Britney Follmer; Kennedy Lyson, Dale Butori, Maria L. Braun, Bill Bagley and others that may not have signed in.

Jennefer Wheeler, Fairgrounds Manager; Karol Williams and Derrick deHaan, Fair Board Members; Commissioner’s Baldwin, Braun and Rost; Christa Alford, Minute Recorder; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder

Molly Losing opened by asking for Public Comment/Discussion to be held in the evening rather than 1:30 in the afternoon, as it would allow more of the public to attend. Molly continued her discussion by informing the Commission that she had received 291 signatures on the petition she created, 291 members of the public who were unhappy about not knowing about any discussion regarding any changes to be made to the Livestock Barn. Her purpose was to inform the public, as nobody knew that the “Discussion/Decision to Remove Bleachers” meeting was scheduled for today. She restated that 291 public members were opposed to any changes to the Barn, based on the signatures on the petition. She has minutes from the 4-H Council meeting that Commissioner Rost attended regarding possible changes to the 4H Barn and 4H members were to contact the Extension office by March 31st with their responses. Based on these minutes, how can Commissioner Braun say that 4-H is fine with any decision to change anything in the Livestock Barn? Molly stated that there is a 4-H meeting scheduled for April 27; that is when a majority of the leaders had planned to discuss the bleachers in the Livestock Barn, so how can the Commission have a decision today without the 4-H discussion? Molly’s fear is that if they make changes to the barn it will cease to be what it is.

Clayton Graham spoke up and asked how many in attendance had been out to the barn to check the bleachers. He asked if anyone felt that the bleachers were safe. Clayton stated he went out today, just before the meeting, to check the bleachers out for himself. He stated that he did not feel that they were safe. Clayton asked how we could have a rodeo if the bleachers were removed. He asked if the poles could be removed or is the building a free-standing building. Commissioner Braun commented that no one knows at this point if the building is free-standing; a construction engineer would have to inspect to determine if it is in fact free-standing or not. Clayton understood that the poles could be removed if the barn was free-standing and also stated he was against taking the bleachers out until he went to look at them.  Commissioner Baldwin said that it should show on the building plans whether the barn was free-standing or not. He stated that the Commission would look it up and certainly take that into consideration.

Melissa Foster asked the Commission about their plans to remove the bleachers. What is the plan? Or does the Commission see the plan to remove the larger agricultural use? Will the plan provide a separate area for animals?  The bleachers have all been packed full at previous events, events that bring in outside guests that stay at our local hotels, eat at our local restaurants, shop at our local businesses. Melissa stated with all due respect, this deserves careful analysis. Melissa asked if removing the bleachers was the first step for the Commission to redesign the Livestock Barn as an Event Center. The Livestock Barn brings in economic boom for local businesses, the Commission needs to consider fiscal responsibility. Melissa asked the Commission to leave the bleachers alone and to openly share any plans for a Community or Event Center with the public before making any decisions. Melissa also stated 1:00 PM is not an ideal time for a public meeting.

Bob Thielen spoke up and asked the Commission about the plans for the barn and for an event center. Bob asked who would be responsible for the requirements to cement the floor in the Livestock Barn? The commission must consider matting, cementing, sand and dirt, propane or whatever type of heating. Bob mentioned the costs concerning this change. Bob stated that at some point, the County likely won’t have oil money to depend upon for funding. He just wants honesty from the Commission, wants the Commission to tell the truth.

Molly Losing asked the Commission if any of them had contacted who runs the Metra in Billings, to see how long it takes them to prepare the Metra for a rodeo. She spoke to someone that had contacted the person in charge and it takes 12 days to prepare the Metra for a Rodeo.

Karrol Williams stated she is the one that contacted Dennis Tryan from the Metra and he told her that it takes 12 days for the Metra to prepare for a rodeo. Metra packs in 12 inches of dirt, 3 inches of sand, constantly working to keep it packed and wet down to have the ground ready for a rodeo. He explained to Karrol, this could potentially ruin the Livestock Barn for the riders.

Tammy Witcher said she spoke with Commissioner Baldwin and Commission Rost regarding getting the sand put back in after the fair.  She asked how we can ride if we have to continue to bother the Commission to get the sand placed back in. Tammy stated that the community has a right to know what is going on. The meeting should not have been scheduled without informing the community.

Donna Rowe spoke up as a non-horse person and stated she believes the Livestock Barn should be left alone. There is no option for people to house their horses anywhere else right now. Donna feels the stall users should not be told they have to move their horses. Donna also stated that she does not know what the long-term plan was and only knows what the scuttle butt is. She asked who would actually benefit if the plan went through.

Christina Gaub stated that turning the Livestock Barn into an Event Building is a horrible idea. She questioned if there was a place at the Fairgrounds to build an Event Building, possibly get rid of some of the old buildings out there. Christina also stated that the baseball group had approached the Commission and wanted to donate to help build an event center.

Shelley Mackay Dean commented that an ill-informed public is the Commission’s biggest enemy. She questioned why the agenda or notice couldn’t be put in the paper. Shelley asked about abbreviated minutes being placed in the paper. She stated that people feel the Commission is not being transparent. Shelly stated that the barn is great for Agriculture uses and Agriculture people, even city kids learn from this. Losing the agricultural knowledge this barn provides will damage Baker.

Sherry Varner stated that she was told that only a couple of groups were informed of the meeting. She stated that stall users were not informed. Sherry stated that she does not see the bleachers as a hazard and the stall users utilize the space under the bleachers for storage. She questioned how only a couple of groups come in and a decision made based on those groups. No one else was informed and the Commission is ready to make a decision.

Molly stated that without the wall, stall users’ belongings are not protected. She stated that the solid wall is better for horses, the wall serves a purpose.

Kennedy Lyson stated that it is a major distraction for horses when other animals can be seen.

Judy Whitney stated she sees a lack of honesty and integrity from the Commission. She feels there is deception, that everyone is told something different.

Commissioner Baldwin closed Public Comment and moved to the 1:35 PM meeting.


Commissioner Braun stated that there are a lot of emotions here based on falsehoods. He stated that when the Daycare/Community Center proposal failed, members of the public asked him about a place for big events. These members asked about cementing the floor in the Livestock Barn and hauling dirt in and out. Based on this question from the public, Commissioner Braun investigated Miles City and Billings, and visited with the Commission, Fair Board Members, and members of the Community. Commissioner Braun stated there is no decision to do anything. It is a 4-H barn and was never intended to be a convention building. He is not in favor of building an Event Center without informing the public. He also stated that there is no plan to move forward with anything in the Livestock Barn, that it has been only discussion. Commissioner Braun asked how did we get to this point. There has only been discussion at a meeting on Monday, no decision has been made. Now we are hearing that we have deceived the public.

More comments from the audience that could not be heard.

Commissioner Braun stated it is more than a horse barn, it is a Livestock Barn. Every kid should be able to stall his/her livestock there, to include the kids on 3rd Street for their steers, etc. It is a public building for 4-H.

Commissioner Braun stated the bleachers are unsafe, not ADA compatible, dust collectors and people only sit there when other bleachers are full. He asked how many in the audience have gone home from an event at the Livestock Barn coughing due to the dust. Public member asked what would the bleachers be replaced with. Commissioner Braun stated that if the bleachers were replaced, the new bleachers would be ADA compliant, with more dust control. He stated that the Commission does not know at this point if tearing the bleachers out would make it workable for the public; it’s not even a decision at this point.

Audience member stated that it is on the agenda for today as a discussion/decision to remove bleachers.

Commissioner Braun stated that a decision does not have to be made today. He apologized that the agenda was posted in the wrong place on Friday, but that it was correctly posted by Saturday.

Member of the public asked why the minutes were not posted from last week. Commissioner Braun stated that the minutes were not approved as yet from last week, and that it was on the agenda to approve the minutes today. Explained you cannot approve the minutes if you are not in attendance.  He stated that there are rules to follow with the State of Montana; the Commission does not make/follow its own rules. Commissioner Braun stated that the minutes have to be approved before they can be published.

DeAnna Herbst stated you can get a copy of the minutes before they are approved.

Shelly Mackay Dean stated that we need local information published in the paper, not state information. It would be helpful if Commission Minutes were posted in the paper, as not everyone has internet. Shelley doesn’t feel they need all of the information for the minutes, but things of this nature are important.

Dale Butori commented that when he published an advertisement for a job announcement, it cost $400.00.

More discussion took place regarding the minutes.

The Commission stated this discussion was getting off topic, as the topic did not pertain to the minutes.

Kodie Olsen said that 4-H had asked the Commission to attend a meeting, as the group wanted Commissioners to have input and notify groups if there was any discussion pertaining to them. She stated that the Commission wanted to get information from the groups that the Commission was not there to make a decision. Kodie restated that Extension Office was waiting to hear thoughts back from the groups during their April meeting.

Commissioner Braun restated that it is a 4-H Barn. This was a discussion that went nowhere; bleachers are one part of the discussion. The Commission is not going to spend taxpayer dollars if no one wants the Event Center. The agenda stated “Discussion/Decision” but that no decision will be or has to be made today. The decision could come later in the future, but only after public notice and public comment. No decision will be made at this time, or any time in the near future. Commissioner Braun stated that the bleachers design would need to be discussed as well, if that was a plan; if bleachers could be fixed, taken out or remodeled; but stated again that no decision will be made without discussion.

Sherry Varner asked why the Commission did not go to the people that use the barn every day.

Commissioner Braun stated this was a discussion/decision and no decision has to be made.

Molly Losing discussed the wall being a barrier and asked if they will address the wall with new bleachers.

Commissioner Baldwin stated there is currently no plan for any of this.

Britney Follmer asked the Commission how they would go about this plan. She stated there are not enough stalls as it is. Would the Commission add more stalls? Will the Commission reach out to groups for more discussion.

Commissioner Baldwin stated the Commission wants their opinions.

Commissioner Braun stated that there is more that needs to be done in the barn as well. The doors need to be replaced; lights in the arena should be LED.  All of this needs to be thought about and discussed before any decisions can be made.

Clayton Graham stated that he noticed only half of the stalls are currently used for horses, the other half are full of hay. When he managed the livestock barn, the horses came first.  

Kennedy Lyson stated that there are 4 stalls that cannot have a horse in them because the stall door won’t close, and if it does close, it won’t open.

Tammy Witcher stated that stall users have had hay outside or tack in their trucks if a horse stall was needed for a horse. Tammy stated that most stall users would share a tack room if stalls were needed for horses. Tammy said that decisions cannot be made without including the public. She stated that she, and the public, wants honesty from the Commission.

Commissioner Braun said the Commission has no intention of making any decisions like this without including the public. He personally does not intend to but cannot speak for the other Commissioners. Commissioner Braun asked how many in the room called the Commissioners on Saturday before commenting on social media. Throughout the whole conversation on social media, not one person called any one of the Commissioners to ask what was going on. Two people raised their hands.

Tammy Witcher discussed a time when they did not have to buy their own shavings and not that they do, they need a place to store them again. They have always been willing to move their hay outside or share stalls if there is a need for a horse to have a stall.

Controversy on what was said in the meeting Monday, March 13th regarding 1 to 3 years. 

Again, Commissioner Braun stated that the Commission is not interested in spending taxpayer dollars for a new building or even cementing the floor in the Livestock Barn without community involvement.

Karrol William stated Commissioner Braun came to a meeting in November and told them it was something that was being thought about.  Commissioner Braun told the Fair board it was up to the Commission, they had the authority; it was not up to the Fair Board.

Tammy Witcher stated her husband had mentioned that something like this would need to be bonded but Darcy popped up and said that it did not have to be bonded.

Darcy Wassmann explained that some things can be done or built by the Commission as long as it is in the budget. Darcy further explained that some things have to be bonded, but do not have to be voted on. Discussed the process of the budget submitted to the Commission by the Department Head and things can be approved or not through the budget process; hearings are held in which the public can be involved. 

Dee Dee Geving asked if the Fair Board was the Department Head for the Fair.

Darcy Wassmann stated, being a board, they are similar to a Department Head and can make requests through the budget process.

The Commission stated the board is not a county employee, so are not considered a Department Head but they do oversee the Department and make recommendations to the Commission and are involved in the budget process.

Karrol Williams again stated the Fair Board was told the Commission was in charge not the Fair Board.

Jennefer Wheeler said the Fair Board is similar to a Department Head. She goes to the Commission with the budget and then reports back to the Fair Board what has been approved for the Fairgrounds budget.

Commissioner Braun again stated that the Commission will not make any decisions without community involvement. He said the public can petition just as Molly did. Commissioner Braun felt the petition was based on falsehoods. They would then schedule meetings with discussion and hearings, further discussion, then voting.

Molly Losing stated her petition was not based on falsehoods and stated she supposed she could have worded the petition differently, especially the third paragraph, but does not do this for a living.

Commissioner Braun stated there was no discussion of this in the minutes because the conversation stopped.

Tana Taylor asked if a decision would have been made today if no one showed up for the Public Comment or this meeting.

Commissioner Baldwin stated no, his vote would have been no decision to be made.

Donna Rowe asked if the Commission would just say the building should stay as a 4H horse barn, to satisfy her. She does not want to see any change to the building.

Commissioner Braun stated that it is a 4-H barn and will always be a 4-H building.

Member of the Public-Then why did he talk about cementing?

Commissioner Braun stated because a member of the public came to him, he did some research and got some figures together to bring to the Commission.

Much discussion from the public on why when just one member of the public asks………………………..

Commissioner Rost stated it is a 4-H barn and that the Commission needs to visit with 4-H kids. Commissioner Rost went to the Livestock Committee, then a 4-H Council meeting.  Commissioner Rost felt, if 4-H does not like this idea, he is done with any further decision; it is a 4-H building. Commissioner Rost said there was no discussion at the Commission office first. This is the first public discussion that has taken place.  Commissioner Rost felt 4H was going to discuss this and get back to them by sometime the first part of March.

Kodie Olsen stated that the 4-H members would get back to the Commission, but they were going to discuss it at their April meeting.

 Commissioner Rost stated that when he visited with 4-H, no one was in favor of cementing the barn floor. The bleacher idea may be beneficial, but nothing has been decided or discussed amongst the Commission. Commissioner Rost stated if we wish to go forward with bleachers by this year’s Fair, we need to know. If not, then we can discuss it more later.

Molly Losing stated that Commissioner Braun said that 4-H was okay with bleachers being removed, but as far as she is aware, that has not been stated by 4-H at this point. Commissioner Braun said he spoke with 4-H members who said they were okay with changing bleachers. Molly asked which members? Commissioner Braun said he will not state in this meeting who the members are. Commissioner Rost stated that he is not interested in moving forward with the project, due to 4-H also stated he did not contact all 4H groups but felt they would all talk and bring information back to the Commission.

Melissa Foster asked if the Commission would follow up with the 4H.

Comment made to open the line of communication.

Jennefer Wheeler stated that when she was notified the meeting was taking place today, she sent a message out to people (stall users and board members) she had contact information for. Commissioner Rost said it should not have been on the agenda as “Discussion/Decision” as it was worded. This is the first public discussion.

Molly Losing asked if there was a possibility to reschedule future meetings if there was not enough time on the agenda.

Commissioner Braun stated yes, they could. He also stated that social media could be used in a positive manner to get the information out to the public. Instead, it was used as a platform against the Commission.

The public did not feel that was the case.

Dee Dee Geving did not understand why Commissioner Braun was mad at Molly.  Why should he be mad at Molly when what she said in her petition is the same thing he is saying? 

Karrol Williams stated the Fair Board Meeting was brief and she stated she was not in favor at that time. Commissioner Braun stated yes, she did. Commissioner Braun also stated he was not mad at Molly.

Molly Losing felt he was a public official and should not raise his voice. 

Commissioner Braun did not feel she as a taxpayer should raise her voice. 

Dee Dee Geving, again, all that Molly said was the same thing Commissioner Braun had been saying.

Commissioner Braun stated it is a 4H barn; he talked to several people and got their opinion; he was just doing his due diligence. 

Jessica Batterman, everyone talks about telling them what they want to hear.  She doesn’t want that; she just wants them to be honest and tell the truth.  Everyone has heard a different story from you, Commissioner Braun.

Commission thanked everyone for their attendance and appreciated the comments.

Comment was emailed to the Commission from Kay Wiman, stating that she does not want this turned into an event center. She asked the Commission to please consider what the taxpayers want. The way the economy is going, we do not need to add to it with more taxes and maintenance.

2:25 PM Commissioner Baldwin brought the meeting to a close. Commission attended their next meeting in the Commission office.


Appointment motion was not made. Rescheduled for another time.

The commission would like to thank Darryl Espeland for his 36 years of service as the Ambulance Medical Director. Your years of service and dedication do not go unnoticed. 

2:30 PM PERMISSION TO HIRE SEASONAL LIBRARY AIDE/Julie Straub, HRM; Beth Meggers, Library Director

          Beth is not able to be here, and other applications have been received, so we have to put it out again. No need for permission to hire Seasonal Library Aide at this time.


          Would like permission to recall Chanse Hoenke, effective May 1, 2023.  Recall Iven Felt tentatively April 24, 2023, prior to Chanse Hoenke starting. Julie asked if we could add Iven Felt to the agenda the week of March 27-31 to discuss the start date for recall for the position as Seasonal Cemetery Caretaker.

Commissioner Rost made the motion to grant permission to recall Chanse Hoenke for the Seasonal Assistant Cemetery Caretaker.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for further discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays.  The motion carried.

2:40 PM Julie left the meeting.

2:45 PM WEED DEPARTMENT UPDATES/Sara Berger, Weed Control Coordinator

          The annual Conference in Helena went well.  Good thoughts on evasive grasses, started Russian Olive, invasive shrubs task force. Sara stated that she had been reelected as Southeast Area Rep and elected as Coordinator Chair. Sara will put on fall and spring trainings. Spray Days have been postponed due to storms; there were 4 attendees that showed up, as they had not received notice that the meeting was postponed. Sara said the crew outlook was good; Sienna Schuler and Maddie Butori will return. Sara did say that she would need one more 18-year-old, but that she would wait and see what happens. Sara said that she can spray roads in the morning with Sienna, and then work with Maddie during the remainder of the day.

          Sara asked about Pete Rising’s resignation from the Weed Board. The Commission stated they received the notification and that it is in their afternoon work session. Sara will be looking for someone to fill that position.

          Sara plans to work with Baker Schools on a Weed Education Day. She also spoke with the Assistant Coordinator in Red Lodge, who works with Hunter’s Education on a “Hunt, Clean, Go” program that coordinates weed control with hunting. Sara is going to be looking into working with our local Hunter’s Education Program for something similar. Sara also asked about “Drain, Clean, Go” signs to place at lake dock to assist with controlling weeds in/out of lakes between Montana and North Dakota. Commissioner Baldwin asked if Sara could look into prices for the signs and get back to Commission.

          Sara discussed the DOT agreement that is sent yearly. This agreement provides money to spray DOT roads and is typically the same contract with different dates for each year. Commissioner Braun asked if that money covers the budget. Sara stated it covers the spray budget and she typically has money remaining.

          Commission thanked Sara for her work.

2:55 PM Sara left the meeting.


Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve reissuing a lost warrant for weed meeting travel in the amount of $12.20 and mid-month March, 2023 claims in the amount of $344,986.38. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried. All claims are filed in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.


                The Commission reviewed revenues received, reports, emails and other correspondence, board minutes and agendas.

Old Business

          Julie Straub, HRM returned regarding the Seasonal Library Aide position. The second applicant withdrew their application, so Julie returned to ask permission to hire Alivia Schultz for Seasonal Library Aide, beginning the week of March 27. Commissioner Rost wanted clarification that we would not have to re-advertise for this position again. Julie clarified that as the second applicant withdrew from applying for the position, we could move forward with hiring the only remaining applicant without re-advertising the position.

Commissioner Braun made the motion to grant permission to hire Alivia Schultz for the Seasonal Library Aide position. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Approve/Sign Fair Contracts

Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve Fair Contracts. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Approve/Accept Pete Rising’s Resignation from Weed Board

Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve and accept Pete Rising’s resignation from the Weed Board. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Approve Rental Agreements – Parkview Retirement Complex (Kinsey’s & Schell’s)

Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve the Kinsey application. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve the Schell application. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Approve Eastern Montana Drug Task Force Inter-Agency Memorandum of Understanding for FY 2024

Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve MOU Eastern Montana Drug Task Force. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried.

Sign state approved Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment & Prevention Service Provider County Designation Form

          The designation form was signed; half of the money will go to EMCMHC (Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center), and half of the money will go to Prairie Hills Recovery Center.

Fireworks contribution.

          The Commission asked Dale Butori, DES/911 Coordinator to come to Commissioners’ office for further discussion. Commissioner Rost asked Dale if $2500 would be enough for the fireworks fund. Prior to last year, there was usually a surplus of funds for continuous years. In order to receive the 10% discount Dale needs to know how much funding he will have to spend, by April 30, 2023. There used to be a breakfast held and recycling to help raise funds. Dale and the Fire Department did not want to be in charge of fund raising and had hoped after last year there would be someone else that would take that part on. The funds are held at Grasslands Credit Union with Dale and Tom Bruha on the account. This is the donation fund that they took over from Judy Brown.        

          Commissioner Braun stated he would like to proceed with what is normally contributed. Dale said he would need to place the order by April 30 for a discount, maybe mid-May, if there were no concerns with the discount. Commissioner Baldwin feels the county could contribute what we usually contribute, and then if there is a need, we can contribute more. Commissioner Braun asked if we can still receive discount if we put this on agenda for April 24, 2023? Dale stated yes, he has until the 30th of April. Commissioner Baldwin asked about the cost.  Dale said our typical show runs about $7500 to $8000. When Judy Brown was doing the fund raising, the Fallon County Federal Credit Union used to ask for donations. Decision was to put this on the agenda April 24, 2023 for a decision.

Discussion on Appraisal for County Land

          Discussed appraisal of $790,000 from George Luther, Jr, ARA, Luther Appraisal Services, Inc for county owned land, “once known as workforce housing site”. Need a Resolution of Intent in order to make a decision to sell the land. Need a gap of 3 months between bids, then move forward if offer is accepted. No decision to be made at this time. Will add to agenda at a later date to move forward with Resolution of Intent and Resolution to Sell and go out for bids.


Corrections:  Page 2, In place of “$500.00”, it should read “did not have a specific dollar figure at this time. But would have a dollar amount known by time of bid.”

Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve the March 6-10, 2023 minutes with corrections.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none, 2Ayes. 0 Nays. 1 Abstain. (Commissioner Baldwin-was not present that day). The motion carried.


Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve the March 13-17, 2023 minutes.  Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 2 Ayes. 0 Nays. 1 Abstain. (Commissioner Rost-was not present that day). The motion carried. 

4:45 PM Commissioner Braun made the motion to adjourn.  Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.   Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously. 




1:00 – 2:00 PM

                                                                                                                                s/Steve Baldwin, Chairman

s/Christa Alford, Minute Recorder


s/Brenda J. Wood, Clerk & Recorder