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Park Board responds to structuring concerns

 


During its meeting Monday held with a potluck dinner at Camp Kiwanis in Beaver Creek Park, the Hill County Park Board agreed to meet with a local resident to discuss concerns about conflicts of interest on the board.

The concerns have been raised for several years by Havreite Lou Hagener.

During its meeting, the board also discussed the effects of the East Fork Fire, heard the superintendent’s report and cabin business, and voted on the proposed budget.

During the discussion of Hagener’s concerns, Park Board Member and Hill County Commissioner Mark Petersen passed around copies of an email from Hagener that was sent to him and Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean and Park Board Chair Steve Mariani.

Hill County commissioners are automatically part of the Hill County Park Board.

Hagener says in the email that it is not a new issue. He has brought up since 2015 the subject of needing a restructuring of the board because of conflicts of invested financial interest.

“It is firstly an issue for the commissioners and secondarily for the board,” Hagener said. “On the other hand, if the board elected ineligible persons to the chair and vice chair it becomes a ‘front and center’ issue and at least an embarrassment for the board.”

“The fact that the commissioners have never offered a reasonable, justifiable or cogent explanation for their actions and not responded to any of the last three requests is suspect and concerning for all citizens of Hill County,” Hagener went on to write.

Hagener gave alternative fixes which included complying with Montana Constitution Article II, Sections 8 and 9, and Montana Code annotated 7-16-2314, which deal with a public's right of participation and to know, and also control of conflict of interest and nepotism.

The other fixes given were that ineligible persons need to vacate their positions, the commissioners could get a judicial ruling that exempts the county from the requirements of the Constitution and codes stated above, or the commissioners could introduce a bill to the Legislature to void MCA 7-16-2314 “and make it retroactive to cover past appointments,” the email says.

In response to the email, Petersen said he would like to invite Hagener to come talk to him and the board will set aside one hour during one of the upcoming board meetings for him to give a presentation on what he thinks the board can do to make things right.

“We may have operated incorrectly,” he added. “We will listen.”

“I was on the board before I was a cabin owner. … I inherited the cabin,” Mariani said, “but if we need everybody nonbiased, then that is what we have to do.”

The board went on to ask for an update on the East Fork Fire. Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said the area affected by the fire “has exploded with life … grass and plants.”

The fencing contract for the rebuilding of the fence affected by the fire is in the commissioners’ office and waiting on a signature, he said, adding that the park had accepted the bid from Boyce Construction to repair the fence.

Edgar also brought Lon Waid, a rancher and sawmill owner, to speak to the board about the possibility of logging the burned portions of the park.

Waid said he had come to the park and rode the land May 16 to see if any wood was salvageable.

The side of Mount Otis is “out of the question,” he said, because there is not much timber.

He added that he would estimate that 60 percent of the burned timber will tip over in the next couple of years and if he is “guesstimating,” he would say about half of the burned wood is “merchantable.”

“We have looked into a crew to fall the trees,” Edgar added.

In the superintendent’s report, Edgar said the park is looking green and Memorial Day went well. The park staff also hired two seasonal workers, mowed the reserve sites, cleaned pavilions and outhouses, graded some roads and sprayed weed, along with other maintenance to the park, he added.

The board also voted on cabin and old business as well as claims and the upcoming year’s budget.

Cabin business included two requests from owners who would like to possibly buy whole units from the former Circle Inn and have them moved and put on their land. The board approved the requests.

The 2018-19 proposed budget of $250,900, which was presented to the board at the last meeting, and the claims from the past month were also unanimously approved by the board.

 

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