Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Top 10 Stories of 2018


December 26, 2018

Mark Hebert

1. Malta Mayor John Demarais being sworn in last January. 2. Saco's Gary Gross and the 14.4-pound Northern Pike at the Ice Classic fishing tourney in January. 3. Keira Simonson and Collin Holman dance at the 103rd P.C. Fair's Roots & Boots concert. 4. Tia Stiles - co-owner of Stiles & Fitness - minutes before hosting the business's grand opening in May. 5. Dario Carrasco loads cardboard at the Malta Opportunities Inc. cardboard bailer in May. 6. Lance Cpl. Sandvick-Monroe - a U.S. Marine was mortally wounded in action on October 8, 2006 - honored in Malta in May. 7. Rowdy and Ridge Beil prepare for their trip down the Saco Fun Day's parade route during September's Saco All Class Reunion. 8. Kristen (Engebretson) Estelle and her band, The Heartstrings, opened the NAN concert season in October. 9. Brianna and Bryan Shores and their children, Daxton, Demi and Mila, ahead of the Blue Ridge Brewing Grand Opening in July.

Of the over 1,600 stories posted on the Phillips County News website in 2018, 10 of them far and away had more reads than the rest. Using the analytics from the PCN website - the following stories were the top 10 read stories, in order, in the last 365 days. Thank you readers and advertisers and here is to making 2018 another great news year at your award winning community newspaper.

#1 Roots and Boots headlines 2018 Phillips County Fair

February 21, 2018

Country music fans were informed that the 2018 Phillips County Fair Main Stage act would be treated to a concert by Roots & Boots, featuring Country stars Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Collin Raye.

 The Grandstands and infield at the fairgrounds in Dodson were packed on Friday night in August at the 103rd Phillips County Fair as the Country Music heavyweights took the stage.

"Are we having fun tonight Montana?" Kershaw asked the 1,698 concert goers in attendance.

Audible shouts of "yeah," whistles, and then drinks and small American flags raised in the air were the answers to his query.

The 1,698 people at the concert were almost 700 more than last year when LoCash played the fair and was the biggest audience the Phillips County Fair's Friday night concert has seen since Clay Walker drew over 1,800 at the 100th Annual Phillips County Fair.

Prior to Roots & Boots taking the stage, Rock Solid Country opened the night's music featuring Malta's Justin Lamb and Vince Mace and their bandmates, O.K. Olson and Chase Gephardt. Following the Roots & Boots show, and prior to the night's street dance at which the local legends played into the wee hours of the morning, the PCN caught up with Lamb and Mace.

"I thought it went good and we had fun," Lamb said as he crawled beneath the trailer/stage, trying to set up equipment for the street dance. "Actually, we had lots of fun."

#2 Lance Cpl. Sandvick-Monroe honored

May 2, 2018

Hours after Jeremy Scott Sandvick-Monroe graduated from Chinook High School in 2004, he left for San Diego to enter United States Marine Corps Basic Training.

"After the attacks on 9-11, he decided that the Marine Corps was what he wanted to do," Melissa Sandvick said on Saturday morning at the Malta VFW Club. Sandvick, who lives in Kalispell, but is originally from Malta and went to School in Dodson, talked about her son while she set out pictures of him, some of his medals, old uniforms and banners signed by his Marine Corps friends ahead of a presentation of an Honor and Remember Flag she was to receive in her son's honor.

Lance Cpl. Sandvick-Monroe's was honored for the sacrifice he made for his country as South Dakota's Christine Bestgen presented the Sandvick family with an Honor and Remember Flag. She said the red on the flag represents the blood spilled by brave men and women in America's military throughout history; the blue star represents active service in military conflict; the white border recognizes the purity of sacrifice; the gold star signifies the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior in active service who will not return home; the folded flag signifies the final tribute to an individual life that a family sacrificed and gave to the nation; and the flame is an eternal reminder of the spirit that has departed this life yet burns on in the memory of all who knew and loved the fallen hero.

#3 Ice Classic draws nearly 200 at Nelson

January 31, 2018

Like the water level at Nelson Reservoir, the number of anglers at this year's Ice Classic Fishing Derby were up this year, nearly topping 200 total.

"We are ecstatic with the number of fishers this year," event organizer Rhonda Dalby said. "The water levels were low last year and people were freaking out."

Saco's Gary Gross waltzed into the Buffalo Barn around lunchtime on Sat-urday to have the Northern Pike he'd caught early in the day weighed in and accounted for by Pete Dalby.

"That one was 14.4 (pounds) and the biggest one so far, but there are bigger ones out there," Gross said.

As luck would have it, Gross was correct as the winning pike at the tournament was caught by Adrian Tremblay, Jr. and weighed in at 17.4-pounds. Mark Peterson's 8.4-pound walleye earned him the top spot in that category and Colby Tognetti's one-pound perch left him in first place.

Gross, who does his own taxidermy, said that last winter he speared five pike all over 20 pounds but said the fishing thus far in 2018 has not been so hot at Nelson.

# 4 Style and Fitness

May 9, 2018

Stepping into Studio Stiles in Malta is almost like stepping outside Phillips County and into a fancy, metropolitan beauty salon ... just the way the owner planned it.

"That has been a lot of people's reaction when they first see it," Tia Love, who owns the new beauty salon and downstairs gym, said. "That is what I was going for and that is why I love it. I am super-proud of how it all turned out."

Stiles talked with the PCN last Tuesday in Malta as she put some of the finishing touches on the location prior to the grand opening of Studio Stiles and Total Fitness which she co-owns with husband, Kirk Stiles. The makeover of the building's interior (Studio Stiles sits in the old Robin's Roost clothing store on South 1st Avenue East) started at the beginning of March and butted up against the grand opening last Tuesday in Malta. Stiles said that the shop is nearly where she wants it, though there are a few odds and ends to tighten-up. Over the two months of remodeling, walls were torn down and moved, everything in her new building was repainted, three new rooms and a divider were constructed, and the bathrooms were done. Now, Black walls surround white furniture and beauty-shop necessities in the spacious salon.

"We had a ton of people in and out helping us so that was awesome," Stiles said. "My dad (Alan Love) and Kirk did most of the work, but a lot of family and friends helped out, and it wouldn't look like this in here today without all of their help."

#5 Saco All-Class Reunion sees nearly 200 at Fun Days Celebration

September 9, 2018

A total of 178 people signed in at the Saco School All Class Reunion as of 10 a.m. on Sunday, the final day of the combined 55 Annual Saco Fun Days, 100th Saco Centennial and All Class Reunion held this past Thursday through Sunday. The 9 a.m. Sunday Alumni Coffee and Cookies meet-up was held at the Saco Town Shop on the final day of the celebration.

Of the 178 to sign their names to the roll, Saco alum and their spouses racked-up an estimated 53,820 miles of travel to attend the celebration (double that if everyone actually went home), coming from as close at the town of Saco itself -54 in total Saco residents logged their names - and as far away as Louisville, Ky., some 2,400 miles away, which was the trek Rita (Dramstead) Bradford, Class of 1957, made to attend the events.

Included in the final day's events were an Alumni Softball Tournament hosted by Lacey Beil which included participation by Saco Mayor Clint Simpson who showed up to bring gloves for fielding before being recruited to take the field. The weather for the three days of events went from a little breezy to downright beautiful.

The Saco graduating class of 1969 had the most attendees, according to the sign-in book, as Bill Bryson, Judy Knudson Rock, Fred Nelson, Phil Nelson, Glenn Fisher, Fred Hammond, all currently residing in Saco; Jim Bowman, of Hinsdale, Mont., Sharon Ratterath, Glasgow, Mont., Debbie Southwick Young, Glasgow, Mont., Connie Knudson Schug, Fort Peck, Mont., Connie (Erickson) Wasson, Whitewater, Mont., and Sally Strain of San Antonio, Texas (1,624 south) were all in attendance.

#6 Cardboard Recycling in Malta

June 27, 2018

The journey of a cardboard box is a busy one in Malta.

The City of Malta hopes that once you have unpacked that new flat screen television that you are taking its box to the recycle bin behind Malta Opportunities, Inc., where it can be hauled to an old hanger at the old Airport to be compacted.

"People who recycle their cardboard in this fashion save us space in the City Landfill," Malta Mayor John Demarais said. "Space in that landfill is very expensive. If you drive out and look at the cardboard bails MOI makes out there, they are packed together and huge. If we had to put those in the landfill, it would fill up very fast."

So, cardboard of all kinds - MOI collects the cardboard dropped off behind their building and around town - is gathered by employees and residents and brought out to the airport and dumped in the hanger. From there, MOI's Dario Carrasco picks-up arm-loads of cardboard and tosses them into a yellow compactor. When he has enough carboard compacted, the bails are made and stacked in piles outside the hanger.

MOI Executive Director Dina Sainato-Meneely told the PCN that each bale weighs 700 pounds and in the past two years, a total of 560 bales have been bundled. She said that adds up to a total of 420,000 pounds of cardboard in the past two years, or 210 tons. Each ton of cardboard covers nine cubic yards (and a cubic yard covers approximately 100 square feet.) Sainato-Meneely estimates that a total of 1,890 cubic yards of landfill space has been saved (or 189,000 square feet) for a total of 4.3 acres.

"MOI goes through each piece of cardboard by hand to be sure there is no plastic, Styrofoam, packaging materials or any other garbage mixed in," she said. "We need everyone's help to be sure the cardboard is clean, and that household garbage isn't mixed in. There are garbage bins located behind MOI at the big carboard receptacles."

For the past handful of years, the cardboard started backing up, sometimes being stored in the City Shop in hopes of keeping it clean. Malta's cardboard had, for the most part, hit a dead end.

Enter Terri and Glen Simms, organic farmers in Malta.

"I have to blame my son for that," Terri joked. She said that her son, Matt, came up with the idea of turning cardboard into compost. "We take it and run it through a grinder and then mix it with manure, hay, and old grain and stuff. And, luckily we had a lot of snow this winter, we used it to make the cardboard moist."

# 7 Heartstrings hit the right notes

October 10, 2018

Malta native Kristen (Engebretson) Estelle made her triumphant return to her hometown last Monday night as she and her band, the Heartstrings, played a concert at the Malta High School Gymnasium as this year's opening act of the North Eastern Arts Network Concert Series.

A nearly packed house greeted Estelle and the Heartstrings and though many people in attendance talked of the pride of seeing Estelle, MHS Class of 2006, back in town, maybe no one was as proud as the gentleman who introduced the act on the night.

"Tonight, Kristen is back," Erik Engebretson, Kristen's father, and Malta School Music teacher said. "What can I say. Jeanne (wife and Kristen's mother) and I remember sitting right about there (pointing to seats close to the stage) for quite a bit of her career here at Malta High School and now (Kristen) will be standing right here."

The Heartstrings - comprised of Patrick James Roberts on bass, Sam Quiggins on cello, Molly Aronson on cello, Trevor New on viola, and Ally Jenkins on violin - took the stage ahead of Kristen and played an acoustic version of Sweet Child of Mine by Guns and Roses.

# 8 Blue Ridge Brewing to hold grand opening in Malta this Saturday

July 25, 2018

It's been a long time coming, but the barrels of suds have been brewed, the kegs have been tapped and the popcorn will be popping this Saturday as Bryan and Brianna Shores' dream has become a reality.

"It seems like it has taken forever, and it has been so much work for us, our family and our friends, but we officially open for business Saturday and we couldn't be happier," Bryan said.

On Saturday, July 28, Bryan and Brianna invite the community down to Blue Ridge Brewing for their official grand opening on a day which will include wood fire pizza for sale by A.E. Catering; live music from both Nate Salsbery and New Dog, Old Trick (Noah Harms and John Kinney) as well as, of course, beer, at the 320 S 1st St. E location in Malta.

Bryan and Brianna were set to meet with the PCN last week to talk about their newest venture - the brewery, which sits next door to the carwash they purchased in town about two years ago - but Bryan got called away at the last minute by his main job as an engineer for BNSF (the PCN would catch up with him the next day as he was brewing.) Brianna, on the other hand, was able to meet at the Blue Ridge Brewing building for the interview during her lunch break from her main job at The First State Bank of Malta.

Brianna said that when she and Bryan purchased the land next to the car wash, it was originally intended to house his sign business, Shore's Metal Design, but a series of events unfolded that pushed the couple to want to open Malta's first brewery.

"We both enjoy craft brews and breweries, and every town we travel through, we stop to see if there is one we haven't tried," she said. "We became friendly with the owners of the Busted Knuckle in Glasgow and Triple Dog Brewing in Havre and started to learn more about the business side of breweries."

# 9 Malta has a new mayor

January 3, 2018

The final town council meeting of 2017 ended on a high note as three local City officials were sworn in on December 28, 2017.

John Demarais, a former 30-year employee for the City of Malta was sworn in as Malta's 27th mayor, after winning the 2017 City of Malta Municipal Election on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

Re-elected council members David Rummel and Bonnie Wiederrick were also sworn in, retaining their seats as Malta City Council Members for Ward I and Ward II respectively.

# 10 The New-Look Dodson School

October 31, 2018

If you haven't been to Dodson School in a while, you might be surprised by how much things can change in just three years.

The PCN put out a question to all Phillips County Schools in August asking superintendents for any updates that might have taken place at their respective campuses over the summer. Dodson Schools Superintendent Gary Weitz responded with a laundry-list of improvements at the home of the Coyotes, from staff hires to swing sets and from technology to a new concession facility, Dodson School is looking polished and professional as they head into the future.

"When PCN Publisher Mark Hebert sent out that email, those of Dodson asked, 'where do we start', Supt. Weitz said. "Welcome to the new-look Dodson Schools."

Weitz said the staff at Dodson School has been transformed in recent years and he and the Dodson School Board - comprised of Bonnie Lankford, Iris KillEagle, Berta Anderson, Jessica Fetter, and Lisa Ball - are committed to providing a positive culture and workplace at the campus and believe that starts with the school's faculty and staff.

"We now have a team-oriented group of teachers and support personnel that are competent and committed to Dodson Public School," Supt. Weitz said. "We are proud of our school and the direction with which it is going. The Dodson Public School Board should be commended for their support. They listen and have "students first" at the forefront."

As for the campus itself, Supt. Weitz started with the upgrades to the school's technology. He said the technology infrastructure was failing and in need of repair in 2015 and in 2016, the installation of a completely new infrastructure took place.

"This enabled all technology on the campus to operate at a high level and provided teachers efficient and dependable supplemental instruction to their students," he said. "Administrative and classroom technology tools in the building now operate with efficiency, speed, and clarity."


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