All three Commissioners attended the Tuesday, Aug. 24, meeting at the Satellite Office in Browning. With “Browning Community Issues” being the sole item on the agenda, Chairwoman Mary Jo Bremner began with an update on the new Satellite Office.
While the facility is currently under renovation, Bremner said she is impressed with the progress made so far.
“It looks beautiful,” she said. “The maintenance guy went in and mudded the walls and painted. I let the [Clerk and Recorder’s Office] girls pick the color which is a soft gray.”
Having inspected the building on Aug. 18 with Maintenance Supervisor Shannon Pepion and CFO Chancy Kittson, she said bids are out for work on the floors.
Glacier County Health Nurse Jenny Krapf, Bremner said, has expressed interest in establishing a small clinic in the new office. While the Chairwoman said she didn’t know how the clinic would be staffed, she said Krapf wanted a computer set up for her website.
So far, Bremner said no county funds had been spent on the renovations, apart from mudding and painting. With a clinic inside the building, she said ARPA funding might be available to support the renovations.
Acquiring fiber connectivity is something Bremner said she’d discussed with Siyeh Development, tapping into the line that supplies Glacier Family Foods. She said Stahly Engineers had advised her to have the fiber connected before having the parking lot worked over. While the warehouse behind the new Satellite Office is currently open for leasing, she said it should be connected to fiber now so it will be ready to become a voting center in the future.
Finally, she stated the county hasn’t spent any of its ARPA money yet.
“Our first report on spending is due on Aug. 31, and so far, it’s zero,” she said.
Moving on, Commissioner DesRosier talked about collaborating with the Blackfeet Tribe’s Roads Department.
“In the past, we sat with the Tribe and the BIA about coordinating our winter efforts,” he said. “It was productive to meet with them, and I hope to do that this year.”
Chairwoman Bremner suggested inviting Roads Supervisor John Evans to the next Commissioners’ meeting. Commissioner Overcast noted the department was talking about going back to five days a week instead of four, given the short daylight hours in the winter.
Commissioner Overcast told the Commissioners he’d called the owner of the apartment complex near the alley in Cut Bank where trash had been accumulating, but was rebuffed by the owner.
Chairwoman Bremner said she’d inspected the site with Shannon Pepion and found the refuse wasn’t on county property, so she called Solid Waste to have it removed.
She said the dumping is becoming a “huge problem” and said, “people need to be responsible.”
Commissioner DesRosier said, “It’s a community issue in Cut Bank, but the City Council isn’t dealing with it.”
Commissioner DesRosier then said he’s been looking into housing opportunities that may be available through COVID-19 funding. He said the director of Communities Inc. recently bought an apartment complex in Cut Bank for low-income tenants. While interested in doing something similar in Browning, he’d found nothing for sale.
DesRosier said many people would qualify for low-income housing in Browning who do not qualify under Blackfeet Housing’s Tribal membership requirements. He went on to say Glacier County owns some properties in Browning that might be ideal for such a project. Not much space is needed for a four-plex, he said, and it would be good to get them off the county’s books.
The Chairwoman said Treasurer Don Wilson talked with her about needing a building for a food bank in Browning, saying the parties involved would build a facility if the county would donate a property. Commissioner DesRosier said they have such an arrangement in Cut Bank, and that “people like it.”
Commissioner Overcast said he’d been approached for food bank space in the new Satellite Office and told them it wouldn’t work out in the county’s plans.
Chairwoman Bremner asked Overcast to work on relations with the food bank people while Wilson works on finding an appropriate property.
Responding to DesRosier’s comment that it “would be a perfect project to work with the Tribe,” Bremner said she would talk with Tribal Chairman Tim Davis about setting up a meeting to discuss roads, apartments, the food bank and other items of possible collaboration.