Lincoln County Commission update

By Tracy McNew,

summarized from minutes provided by

Lincoln County


The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners met for a regular session on June 6 at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Libby. Present were Commissioner Bennett, Commissioner Peck, County Administrator Darren Coldwell and Clerk and Recorder Robin Benson. Commissioner Cole was absent. Others came and went during portions of the meeting that were of particular interest to them.

Administrative issues were addressed first on the agenda. Topics included approval of the annual Kalispell Regional Medical Center (KRMC)-Lincoln County Hospital Provider Agreement, approval of the annual DUI Task Force plan, approval of May 23 regular meeting minutes, and approval of the May 29 finance meeting minutes.

The hospital provider agreement involves Lincoln County representing patients admitted to the hospital under the conditions of an “Emergency Detention,” and negotiating fees for medical services provided for under Montana state law.

The DUI Task Force prepares an annual plan that must be approved by commissioners and submitted to state.

Sindy Filler summarized some Lincoln County’s statistics including the fact that Lincoln County in one of the top five in Montana for alcohol and drugs in fatal and serious crashes. 146 DUI cases were filed in the county in 2017, and for the past two years, the average blood alcohol level has been double the legal limit. In recent months, Filler said, it has been as high as four times the legal limit.

The task force will focus on prevention, education and enforcement activities partnering with local and state agencies and involving youth. Their 2018-2019 budget was set at $30,100. The task force’s full plan is available from the Clerk and Recorders office.

At 10:45 public comments were taken with discussion focusing on Ken Preston’s concern about needed telephone system improvements in the Happy’s Inn area.  Commissioner Peck agreed to help facilitate a meeting with Montana Sky to address the issue and identify options.

At 11 a.m. Kootenai Valley Christian School representatives presented about their playground plans and shared that $9,000 is needed to maximize a possible matching grant that they may receive.

The commissioners agreed to look at their park and economic development funds and suggested approaching  the Libby Parks board as well.

At 11:30 the commissioners approved the Misdemeanor Probation Officer Position which will be reviewed annually for effectiveness. The position and budget will fall under the Justice of the Peace. JP, Jay Sheffield expressed his expectation that it will be successful and that the policy follows state standards.

After lunch an emergency management update was delivered by Director, Brent Teske who discussed recent EMA activities including the unfortunate hazmat incident at Happy’s Inn on May 2, flood  and fire preparedness, Lincoln County Safety Committee meeting topics, attendance at the Montana Threat Assessment Conference in Bozeman last month, Lincoln County Safety Audit results, and an application for a volunteer fire assistance equipment grant  that has been submitted.

The Planning Department update scheduled for 1:30 was cancelled.

Next, a Lincoln County Library update was delivered by Director, Alyssa Ramirez along with Chuck Gerheim and Marilyn McDougall.

Alyssa submitted at a glance fact sheet which was reviewed by commissioners and discussed staffing as well as future plans for the libraries. Last year there were 68,217 checkouts, 62,673 visits, 14,957 computer and wireless uses, and 253 programs offered with 3,830 people in attendance. The libraries employ 5.5 full time equivalent employees.  Alyssa said her goals to move forward include  collaboration, focusing not just on books but also technology, community programs, assisting the workforce, and innovation. The commissioners commended Alyssa for her skills and professionalism.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

Another meeting was held on June 13 and a meeting is scheduled to be held in Eureka on June 20.