Havre Daily News
A federal mediator who visited Havre several times last year will return in early April and will hold a public meeting at City Hall, a federal official said Friday.
Community Relations Service mediator Grace Sage will work with the members of a human relations commission formed to address race-related problems in Havre, service deputy director Stephen Thom said.
Thom said Sage, who has repeatedly declined to be interviewed, will specifically invite as many as 40 people, but also will open the meeting to the public.
“As far as she was concerned, it is an open meeting,” Thom said. “At this stage, once ... we're working on things to bring positive change to a community, we do want the community to be involved.”
Local resident Charlie Grant said today that Sage will be training members of the human rights commission, tentatively formed during her last visit to Havre in late October, and the public on how to deal with race-related problems in the community.
“It's part of a process here in Havre to help our community relationship,” Grant said.
Sage will hold the training session April 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the City Hall basement.
She came to Havre three times last year after an article detailing incidents of racial prejudice, written by a University of Montana journalism student, was published in a supplement to the Great Falls Tribune. The piece sparked an outcry from residents and prompted a debate over whether Havre is a community with a race problem.
The mediator met several times with local officials, behind closed doors, to discuss the issue.
During Sage's last visit, local officials and residents agreed to set up a human relations commission to deal with problems in the community.
Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera today said the commission has not met since Sage's last visit.
“Everything's been put on hold until Grace Sage returned,” Szudera said.
Szudera, Grant, Havre Mayor Bob Rice, Police Chief Mike Barthel, Havre City Council members Jack Brandon and Terry Schend, Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Alex Capdeville and Rocky Boy tribal council member and state Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy met with Sage and agreed to form the commission.
Barthel and Brandon referred questions to Rice, who could not be reached for comment today. Schend said he wasn't aware of Sage's return visit. Capdeville and Windy Boy could not be reached for comment.