Bob Kaftan - a quiet voice of reason


January 6, 2014

A few things from the editor’s notebook:

Tonight will mark the end in a chapter in Havre history.

Bob Kaftan will step down as a Havre city councilman.

His two terms completed, Kaftan decided not to run for re-election.

The courtly gentleman has always been a soft voice on the council. His love of his adopted hometown is obvious as he talks about his many friends and neighbors in the community.

Retired from Montana State University-Northern, he was asked to run for Ward 3 councilman by then-Mayor Bob Rice, a friend who he respects greatly.

Like Rice, Kaftan is a Republican. Though his quiet style contrasts sharply with Rice's more bombastic personality, he and Rice worked hard together on a variety of projects.

He recalls being disappointed at Rice’s defeat four years ago. He backed Rice’s bid to win back his old office in the recent election.

But Kaftan has nothing bad to say about Rice’s Democratic successor Tim Solomon, though they disagreed on some key issues, and Solomon stripped him of some committee assignments.

Katan said he will remain active in the community he loves.

“Havre is very special,” he said. “It has great people.”

Kaftan has always been active in his church, the Havre Assembly of God.

And his support of the Salvation Army will increase.

Kaftan marvels at how much the group can do on such a small budget.

He is especially impressed with Salvation Army director Trina Crawford, who runs the operation.

He said he always has ideas on things she can work on.

“Never once has she said she’s too busy,” he said. “She always finds time.”

Kaftan will also spend more time with the grandkids.

His low-key style will be missed on the council, but his quiet enthusiasm will benefit the groups he will be work.


Journalists have always wondered just who reading our stories — if anybody.

With the advent of the website, it is easier to find out.

Of course, people who buy the newspaper read different stories than those who follow us online, it’s still interesting to see what people like.

Big news stories are usually the best read.

The Havre murder case, the tragic death of a toddler at Rocky Boy, and the many stories about Rocky Boy scandals this year were well-read.

But stories on the Great Northern Fair and the Rocky Boy powwow also racked up readers, though not quite as many.

But the big story of the 2013 was the story by reporter John Paul Schmidt’s story about Joe Becker, the Rudyard farmer who was laid up at harvest time. Neighbors from Rudyard and beyond joined in to do the harvesting while teary-eyed Becker looked on.

The story went viral, so to speak. Thousand read the story on, the story was picked up by The Associated Press and virtually every daily newspaper and news website in the state picked up the story. It also ran in newspapers and websites from San Francisco to the East Coast.

People want to know about the tragedy and sad news in their communities, but their hearts are also warmed by neighbors doing good things for their neighbors.


In my old stomping grounds of DeKalb, Ill., weather forecasters are predicting the temperature will drop to minus 17. Officials have declared a state of emergency, but the general population is in a state of panic.

Schools announced Friday that they would be closed in anticipation of the cold. Businesses are closing, People are being advised to stay home.

In Havre, it reached minus 27 this weekend, with wind chills making it feel much colder.

We’re a tough breed here on the Hi-Line.

We’ll keep going to work, school and shopping while Illinois is at a standstill.

But we will whine just as much as the people in Illinois.

(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre daily News. He can be reached at, 406-265-6795 ext. 17 or 406-390-0798.)


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