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0 \1 . . 0916**T tt* A' ,. . ,TC,t- MONTANA BISTORICAL _ VC' VOX Z.01201 KELM, MT 5962- 410.1\001 1 1. 1 bul l *POW °1.1611110P0] ILL OE\ WEDNF:SDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2015 Vo'Aim 134, NUMBER 6 MAKIN. HEADLINES SINCE 1881 DILLON, MONTANA - 75 CENTS Sheriff's race campaign complaint ruled frivilous By J.P. Plutt Dillon Tribune staff Patrick F. O'Neill filed a campaign practices complaint against then Beaverhead County Sheriff Jay Hansen and Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch just eight days before the General Election last November. Last week, over three months following the election, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan R. Motl dismissed the complaint, calling one claim frivolous. O'Neill accused Beaverhead County Attorney Jed Fitch of abusing his \color of authority,\ by writing a letter of support for Hansen that appeared in the Dillon Tribune. He felt letters and advertisements signed by various public officials in support of Hansen were also abusing \color of authority.\ In his complaint, O'Neill wrote, \Attached are the statutes we have concern with and feel they have been violated by this can- didate, Jay Hansen, along with infractions possibly committed by Jed Fitch, County Attorney.\ Motl wrote that the issue of using a work title such as county attorney when writing an endorsement letter had been definitively resolved since 2005 and a Montana Attorney General Opinion al- lowed, \a public official to sign a letter to the editor expressing personal political beliefs, with his official title, so long as public resources were not used to create the letter.\ Later is his decision, Motl wrote, \Because the improper elec- Eclectic String Concert Tues. The International String Trio will play its unique blend of classically ar- ranged gypsy jazz, Appalachian folk and acoustic world music in Beier Au- ditorium on the University of Montana Western campus, on Tuesday, Feb. 17 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets will be avail- able at the door for this Southwest Montana Arts Council event. For more information, call 683-6208. JC Auxiliary to honor top women The Dillon Jaycees Auxiliary will hold its annual ceremony to honor its Outstanding Women and Outstanding Young Woman of the Year award win- ners on Tuesday, February 17 in the Beaverhead Golf Course Clubhouse, starting at 6:30 p.m. Light food and beverages will be served, and everyone is invited to attend. For more informa- tion, call (406) 925-0899. Presidents Day on Monday Monday, Feb. 16 is President's Day, which means many area schools, busi- nesses and government offices will be closed. So be sure to call ahead to anywhere you're planning on heading today. Jackson Firemen's Ball March 7 You can stroll down the red carpet into the 2015 Firemen's Ball \A Night in Hollywood\ at Jackson Hot Springs on March 7. Dinner runs 4;30-7 p.m. Live music will be served up by Northern Lights. The event will also feature a raffle, and live and silent auctions. All proceeds will benefit the Jackson Volunteer Fire Department. For more information or to make a donation in advance, call Heidi at (406) 925-0152. Don't miss the \Meet the Presi- dents\ special tab inserted in this edition of the Dillon Tribune The educational tool will be utilized in area schools as a President's Day gift from the advertising contained within who have made the publication possible. tion related use of official work title is the only complaint made against County Attorney Jed Fitch, the entire complaint against Jed Fitch is dismissed as frivolous.\ \I feel vindicated because the Commissioner of Political Prac- tices dismissed this charge against me as frivolous, meaning that it had no weight, no substaner% no bearing and it should not have even been filed,\ said Fitch on Monday of his right to freedom of speech. \I was very upset (about the complaint). I knew I had done nothing wrong, I knew I had followed the letter of the law. When that was filed, I knew it was for political reasons. \I have striven throughout my personnel and professional life to be honest and trustworthy. to be on the right side on questions of ethics and morals. To ha% e this claim made against me was very upsetting. People can di9agree with my decisions, but to say I was dishonest in my dealings, you'll get my Scottish temper up.\ The second part of the complaint alleged that then Beaverhead County Undersheriff Bill Knox had met with employees of Beaverhead County and asked that they sign a letter of support for Hansen. O'Neill further alleged that he \witnessed and heard three phone calls to a county employee from a supervisor, identified as the undersheriff, harassing him to come provide his signature to the letter of support for Shvriff Jay Hansen.\ Motl's decision referred to the work of an investigator who pursued interviews with any employee reported or thought to be pressured or coerced. The investigator found that each employee stated that the contacts by Knox and City of Dillon Assistant Police Chief Don Guiberson were \courteous and that they were informed that they were free to sign or not sign\ a letter of endorsement for Hansen. \Based on the investigation, the Commissioner determines that there is a lack of sufficient facts to show that coercion occurred in regard to the Candidate Hansen endorsement letter and therefore there is no basis to pursue a violation.\ Bill Knox, now a deputy serving under Sheriff Kluesner, said in a statement that the decision to dismiss all allegations in the complaint was the outcome he expected, \due to the lack of merit in the complaint.\ \I thank the Commissioner and his staff for a thorough, profes- sional investigation which has resulted in a fair and just ruling,\ wrote Knox. \I was accused of things I did not do, and would never do. My colleagues were accused of things they did not do, and would never do. It is unfortunate that personal and professional reputations have been sullied by these false allegations.\ Fitch, the county attorney, felt it important to note that even in O'Neill's complaint, Hansen was not involved in any of the actions alleged to have occurred. Continued to page 10 Half naked man Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan President Tom Welch can not make it to the Icebreaker Polar Dip on Satur- day. so he did his part Monday to promote the affair. Pioneer Federal is a major sponsor for Youth Connections, the group holding the cold water plunge on Saturday at the Blacktail Meadows Kids Pond J P Piuti photo Youth Connections Polar Dip set for Saturday The Icebreaker Polar Dip jumps into the Blacktail Mead- Chili and hot chocolate will be provided to jumpers, as ows Kids Fishing Pond near the SouthWestern Montana well as those who just show up to volunteer. Prizes for this Family YMCA on Swenson Way in Dillon from 11:30 a.m. Youth Connections Mentoring Program will he given out for to 2 p.m. on Saturday. According to Youth Connections the youngest icebreaker, oldest icebreaker, most pledges spokesperson Kim Lemhouse, the longtime fundraising collected and the team with the most pledges. event for the group was a bowl-a-thon. When the local For more information, call Kim Lemhouse at 925-1255 or bowling alley was demolished, the group came up with the Jacqi Dickens at 925-2409. polar plunge idea. Shrove Tuesday pancake supper set at Episcopal Church A Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper will get served in the St. James Episcopal Church Hall, 203 E. Glendale St. in downtown Dillon, on Tuesday, Feb. 17 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Shrove Tuesday is the English version of Mardi Gras, celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday, when the church season of Lent begins, and, as such, the perfect time to tackle an all -you -can eat menu that includes pancakes, eggs, ham, syrup, sausage o fruit, milk, juice and coffee. Admission is free, but donations will be gladly accepted to benefit the Wood Bank, which last year delivered 302 cords of firewood to 124 households in southwest Montana and hopes to do even more of the same in 2015. For more information, about the Wood Bank call Harry Neeley at 406-596-3690. For information about the pancake supper, call Rev. Sue F,ades in the church office at 683-2735. Water -sewer payment relief lurches ahead By M.P. Regan Dillon Tribune staff At a Special Dillon City Council Meeting yesterday afternoon, council members finally gave the go-ahead to Mayor Mike Klakken to make a pair of moves that could help save the city over $7 million dollars and subtract about $20 a month from the water -sewer bills of each city ratepayer. The Council voted 8-0 to simultane- ously approve the contracts of bond counsel Robert Murdo and bond un- derwriters Piper Jaffray. Murdo and Piper Jaffray will work to set up cash defeasance escrow ac- counts and the refunding bond at the center of a plan hatched by Klakken and City Treasurer Neal Straus to take advantage of low interest rates and the high volume of cash in the city's water and sewer accounts. Straus has estimated that if the plan is implemented under current interest rates, it could trim 13 years and over $7 million off the city's bond payments for water and sewer projects undertaken during the administration of Klakken's predecessor Marty Malesich. Straus and Klakken first introduced the plan over two months ago at the Dec. 8 meeting of the City Council's Water & Sewer Committee. But because the Council had can- celled its last meeting of 2014 set for Dec. 17 and couldn't hold its first meet- ing of 2015 on Jan. 7 because not enough Council members showed up for it to form a quorum, a vote on whether to let Klakken and Straus take the first steps to implement the plan didn't come until two weeks later. The Council did vote, 7-0, on Jan. 21 to authorize the city administration to solicit contract proposals from a bond counsel and an underwriter for the plan. The Council was scheduled to vote on whether to approve those contracts at its last regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 4. But Councilperson Lynn Westad insisted the day before at a Finance Committee meeting, during which the contracts were reviewed and recom- mended to the full Council by all the committee members, that the full Council could not vote on the contracts at its meeting the next night. According to Westad, the minutes from that Fi- nance Committee could not be formally approved in time for the vote because they would not be submitted 48 hours prior to the full Council meeting. So Klakken set up a pair of Special City Council meetings for yesterday, the first at noon to approve the Finance Committee meeting minutes and a sec- ond one at 12:10 p.m. to hold a vote on the Murdo and Piper Jaffray contracts The back-to-back get-togethers were necessitated by the stipulation that a Special City Council meeting can in- clude only a single item on its agenda. Throughout the process, Klakken and Straus have urged the Council to proceed efficiently with implementing the water-sev4er savings plan because a rise in interest rate could render the plan obsolete. 1111111 Been 91110 n SI 11`..t N110 1 1111 1)11 I 0\ 1 Rim \F 11111%N CAtt (i3 -233t _ N/A/1 s , / , 11 K m ‘Ns