By Ron VandenBoom
Democratic Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette is running for a job she likes.
If that were not the case, she would not have been a commissioner for the past 10 years. But Bessette is the first to admit that getting the job requires putting in some very long hours and knocking on a lot of doors.
In past campaigns she would go out after work and spend at least one day every weekend campaigning.
"I'm going to try and do the same this time," Bessette said. "I believe it's really important."
"I like what I'm doing, but the hours are unbelievable sometimes," she said. "But I'm used to that."
She also said she likes being a part of a team
and feels the current team has accomplished a lot of good things in the last few years, the new jail being just one of the accomplishments.
Bessette noted that there are still a few things that need to be looked at, but, like housing adult prisoners from Blaine Country in Havre and housing juveniles from Hill County in Chinook.
"I think it's good and we need to be able to utilize the services of other entities in a spirit of cooperation and consolidation so we can keep providing the services," she said. "It may take a lot of innovative thinking and working together just to be able to provide the services."
She points to the county's new hiring policy and the implementation of job descriptions and evaluations as another accomplishment.
Bessette said she was gratified recently when she discovered that MACo, the Montana Association of Counties, has adopted a hiring policy that is so similar to Hill County's.
Still there are other projects Bessette said she would like to see completed.
One such project involves improved lighting on the runways at the Havre-City County Airport. The FFA, Bessette said, will contributes a 90 percent match on funds for the project. That means the board only needs to come up with 10 cents for every dollar they will receive.
She also sees Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Kill Site as a project that she would like to see receive the CTEP funding they have been trying to get for a number of years.
Bessette has seen many changes since becoming a commissioner. One of the more disturbing changes is the amount of money the county has to work with.
"The money situation has deteriorated," she said, singling out the cap that counties have been forced to work under over the last several years. "There's just no room."
Bessette said she didn't think anything was going to change where money was concerned, noting that in the past the commissioners had at least a little maneuvering room.
"Fortunately we haven't had to cut any personnel," she said, adding that she also thinks they now have a "more smooth running and efficient machine."
Bessette is also running at a time of controversy over the Beaver Creek Road.
The last legislature required that the state take over maintenance on all of the paved secondary roads in Montana. The result was that all of the laws governing the Montana Department of Transportation roads now had to apply to Beaver Creek Park.
"It's both a plus and a minus," Bessette said. "It helps us as far as money and up-grades ..., but then we have to follow the state's rules. And that's what we're encountering with the Beaver Creek Park road."
"So that's a good thing and it has its negative impact too," she said.
Bessette said she believes it to be important that control be kept locally.
"We're really lucky here in our area because we have legislators that do understand that and they support local control," she said. "I think it's important and this is where the rubber meets the road on a day-to-day basis."