Mid to late 1970s ambulance crew photo courtesy of Bob Stickney. Back row L to R: Russ Hartley, Dick Buti, Mark Payne, Steve Boyer, Jim Anderson, Paul Buti, Mick Mills, Scott Wayland Smith, Tim Brown, Dale Thompson, Dave Zwang, Tom Simurdak.  Front: Jerry Criner, Dan Stephens, Fred Thompson, Tom Cole, Wad McNutt.


LVA continued from page 1

In 1992, Holder said,  LVA had as many as 52 members, but today there are only about 16 active volunteers including a six person board of directors. One of the problems with dwindling volunteer numbers is that it becomes tough to cover shifts, Holder said. With 16 people and about 730 hours in a month, it’s tough to have more than one crew available at any one time, and each crew must have at least two people.

“We are a licensed BLS (basic life support) 911 service, not a transport service. We will do transports every chance we get, but we will not sacrifice 911 coverage to do so,” Holder said in response to concerns about LVA not being available to transport patients between medical facilities.

Volunteers who are willing to give more than 48 hours of on-call time in a month are offered $5 per hour, and LVA also offers a stipend for those who make runs to Kalispell to encourage more coverage.

LVA also gives back to the community by covering events such as high school football games, where an ambulance is necessary for the event to take place and participating in other community events such as the annual Trunk or Treat on Halloween.

County’s community decay ordinance recap

Lincoln County has a community decay ordinance (2018-05-01 to 2018-05-09). A detail of the entire ordinance is available from Lincoln County including detailed definitions of terms used in the ordinance itself, an explanation of what is prohibited, how to abate the problem, how to appeal a community decay determination, details regarding the option to shield community decay from public view, information about how the ordinance is enforced, who is liable for a violation, and what penalties are possible for violation of the community decay ordinance.

The prohibition section is as follows. “It is unlawful for any person to maintain conditions that contribute to community decay on property owned, occupied, or controlled by him or her on or adjacent to any public roadway within the county.”

The ordinance then goes on to describe how the identification and notification process happens for violations. “When the Department receives notice that a condition of community decay exists, an Officer may inspect the property alleged to be in violation of this ordinance to determine whether there is a violation of this ordinance.

If the Officer determines that there is a violation of this ordinance, the Department will notify the owner of the property in writing of the violation and order its abatement within thirty (30) days.”

According to the regulation, “the notice and order will include the following:

a specific description of the violation;

a statement specifying that the owner has thirty (30) days from receipt of the notice to bring the property into compliance with this ordinance by means of removal or shielding of the conditions; and

an advisement that if the violation is not abated, the County may undertake abatement and assess the costs of that abatement to the owner.

an advisement that violation of this ordinance may subject the owner to a fine of up to $500 or 6 months imprisonment or both, pursuant to MCA § 7-5-109, and that each day of violation, after notice of violation has been given, constitutes a separate offense.”

Citizens can appeal the decision

“The maintenance of junk vehicles on private property that would be considered community decay under this ordinance may be lawful if such materials are shielded from public view…”

The liable party is described as,  “All persons determined to be owners, as defined under Section 2 of this ordinance, of a property in violation of this ordinance may be held jointly and severally liable.”

Penalties are as follows. “Any violation of this ordinance constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the Lincoln County Jail not exceeding six (6) months or by a fine not to exceed $500.00, or both. Each day of violation, after notice of violation has been given, constitutes a separate offense.”

Regarding enforcement, the ordinance says, “The Department is primarily responsible for initiating violation notices and abatement proceedings, with cooperation and aid of law enforcement officers as necessary.

The Department and the County Attorney may exercise complete discretion in enforcing any provisions of this ordinance. The Department or County Attorney may determine that a condition otherwise meeting the criteria of this ordinance is not considered Community Decay because of its existence prior to changed residential conditions in or around its locality if the condition existed longer than the complaining resident has been in possession of the effected property. Nothing within this section is intended to provide a grandfathered status to conditions in existence before this ordinance’s adoption.

All approvals or variances from the requirements of this ordinance must be granted by the Department.

All Officers as defined in this ordinance are authorized to enforce the provisions of this ordinance.

The Officer has the following authorities and responsibilities, in addition to responsibilities otherwise outlined in this ordinance:

The authority to investigate a complaint or potential violation of this ordinance;

The authority to serve a written Notice of Violation and Abatement Order;

The authority to enter the owner’s property to abate or shield community decay in violation of this ordinance upon an owner’s noncompliance with an abatement order or proposed plan;

The authority to serve a written Notice to Appear and Complaint on the person who violates any section of this ordinance, and the responsibility to file the Notice and Complaint in Justice Court.”