Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
While a representative of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the government is looking for a location for a new U.S. Border Patrol station in or near Havre, he said the government could not comment on the Havre City Council voting to entertain offers on a piece of property south of the city. Rob Coachman of Laguna Niguel, Calif., project manager for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said t h e U . S . Genera l S e r v i c e s Administration is looking for places in or near Havre and the Port of Sweetgrass to house patrol stations for the Border Patrol agents stationed in the communities. The Havre location would replace the station now on Bullhook Drive near Parthenon Restaurant and Rod’s Drive Inn. “We are in the process of replacing that station,” he said, adding that “ The facility we have now is too small,” especially considering a directive by President Bush to increase the number of agents being deployed to the northern border. Havre Sector Assistant Patrol Chief Randy Olson said there will be an increase in the number of agents stationed in Havre, although he said that because of operational security he could not comment on how many agents will be deployed in Havre. Flanders, a public information officer for the GSA, said new stations will be leased by the federal government to house Border Patrol agents in both the Sweetgrass and Havre locations. Deadline for initial offers to the government are due today, he said. Coachman said the facility will also be technologically superior in design and operations. Both the Havre and Sweetgrass stations are designed as 50-agent stations which can be expanded to 100-agent stations. New stations built in Shelby, Malta, Plentywood and Scoby are designed for 20 agents with expansion to have more agents, he said. Coachman said the change will not impact the location of the Customs and Border Protection headquarters for its Havre Sector of the Border Patrol. The sector headquarters is located just south of town where Fifth Avenue becomes Beaver Creek Highway. Coachman said nothing is on the books now about moving or replacing the sector headquarters. The Havre Sector is responsible for 452 miles of border area between Montana and Canada, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, as well as part of Idaho. According to the Havre Sector Web site. G e n e r a l S e r v i c e s Administration ran an advertisement Oct. 1 in FedBizOpps, the official listing of all federal government contracting opportunities and awards more than $25,000, soliciting bids for property to lease to house patrol stations in or near Havre and in or near Sweetgrass. Coachman said negotiations are under way on bids, but that he could not disclose details. Because the process is already started, he said he could not comment on the City Council’s vote to entertain bids on property south of Havre, now leased by the Saddle Butte Radio Control Flying Club. The process will include private entities building the facilities to the specifications of Customs and Border Protection, then leasing them to the agency, he said. That has been done with the four new stations, and has been the most cost-effective process in this area, Coachman said. Members of the Havre city council said that when they voted Monday to entertain offers, it was simply to let people know the council is not considering the property off-limits. Gerry Veis said when he voted on the motion was simply to entertain motions. Whether he approved of a sale would depend on the specifics of the offer, he said. Robert Kaftan’s comments were similar. “Now that we have agreed it is for sale we have to wait for bids and we have to have a discussion of the pros and cons,” he said. Council members also said they would be committed to making sure the RC flying club has a home if the land is sold. “The first thing we have to look at is the relocation of the people who have leases on that property,” Allen “Woody” Woodwick said. Terry Schend said that if a sale develops, he thinks the RC club would be brought into the discussion and if a decision to sell the property was made, the move could be very favorable for the club.