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City Council approves new assistant fire chief


Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Newly-appointed Assistant Fire Chief Nathan Courtnage shakes hands with council member Sarah McKinney after being approved by the council during a meeting Monday at City Hall in Havre.

Havre City Council approved the assignment of Nathan Courtnage as the Havre Fire Department's new assistant fire chief Monday evening during the twice-a-month council meeting at Havre City Hall.

"It is with great pleasure to recommend the appointment of Nathan Courtnage to the position of assistant fire chief," head Fire Chief Mel Paulson told the council.

"Nate, with 14 years of firefighting experience, exceeds all the qualifications necessary to perform the duties of assistant chief. Nate's excellent leadership skills and his tremendous desire to serve the community he grew up in makes him an excellent choice for, not only our department, but for our great community as well."

Courtnage will be replacing former assistant fire chief Kelly Jones and will begin his duties in full in the coming weeks.

Ordinances and resolutions

Along with the approval of the new assistant fire chief, the council approved ordinances 906 and 907 on first reading, amending some of the legal language regarding temporary yard signs in Havreites' yards. 906 will remove a specification regarding political signs to address concerns with infringement of the First Amendment. Ordinance 907 strikes out language specifically referencing political signs, too, and also mandates that yard signs must be taken down after 60 days and have a date written on them to prove when they were erected.

Resolution 3799, which also was approved, will allow the city to cancel any elections that feature an unopposed candidate. The resolution will effectively cancel elections for city judge, and for alderman positions in wards 1, 2 and 3 unless more candidates step forward. If a write-in candidate for any of the four positions is introduced by Sept. 3 - 65 days before the election - then the elections will be held.

Mayor Tim Solomon said that ballots for aldermanic elections will not be distributed in any wards with uncontested elections.

"It does make the ballots cheaper to print, which is why they do it," Solomon said. "It will save the city a considerable amount."

Ordinance 908, which was approved on first reading, will make three changes to language regarding special elections for City Council positions. The ordinance will require candidates to submit an administrative philosophy as well as a current resume with work experience.

Councilwoman Karen Swenson said she was in support of the ordinance because she believes it will allow the council to better understand candidates while they are trying to fill a vacancy.

"Requiring the resume and the philosophy, I think, is very important because ... we handle a lot of important things and we need to know what these people are about when they are applying for these positions because they are not applying for election at this time and there's no way to find anything about them," she said. "Nobody could expect to apply for a job without at least a resume and some kind of philosophy for what they're working for, so I think it's a really good addition to the law that we have right now."

The council also approved a request from Friends of the Havre Animal Shelter to allow dogs in Pepin Park during the Woofstock fundraiser Aug. 10, and approved the pledged securities from Independence Bank for the previous quarter.

Second Street resident questions sidewalk conditions

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Second Street resident Lee Henderson called to question the condition of sidewalks on the 600 block of Second Street.

Henderson said sidewalks on the south side of the street are being replaced for the third time since he's lived in the area, yet sidewalks on the north side are in disrepair. He said the sidewalk in front of Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen is in bad condition, and there simply is no sidewalk in front of Havre Refrigeration Inc.

Public Works Director Dave Peterson said the sidewalk is being replaced on the south end of Second Street as part of the Bullhook Drainage Project and that the city is only replacing sidewalk that has been disturbed during work on the project.

Mayor Tim Solomon said landowners are responsible for fixing their own sidewalks, and the city can only afford to step in on sidewalk work when it is part of a larger project or if they have extra funding.


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