City Council opens parks, pool likely to close all season


Clockwise, from the bottom, Malta Mayor John Demarais, Alderman Bonnie Wiederrick, Phillips County Sheriff Jerry Lytle, Janet Moran, Malta Public Works Director Jim Truelove, and Aldermen Bill Hicks and Bill Sintler talk ahead of last Tuesday's Malta City Council meeting. Social distancing was practiced at the first in-person Council meeting to be held since March. Photo by Mark Hebert.

For the first time since March, the Malta City Council had an in-person council meeting at which many topics were discussed and voted for, including a stray cat problem and the opening of City parks and the likely shuttering of the Municipal pool for the 2020 summer season.

The meeting was held in the Malta City Hall Gymnasium with aldermen David Rummel and Bonnie Wiederrick at a table, Aldermen Bill Hicks and Jim Sintler at a table, Malta Mayor John Demarais at his own desk, Malta City Clerk and Treasurer Lori eBond at her own desk with Malta Parks and Recreation members Sally Wright and Jessica Zeiger in the audience, as was Phillips County Sheriff and Corner Jerry Lytle. Everyone in attendance was at least six-feet apart per social-distancing orders due to the COVID-19 virus.

Because public pools are not expected to be allowed to open in Montana until early July because of social distancing guidelines established by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the City Council decided that the Malta Municipal Pool would not open this summer. Mayor Demarais said that even if public pools are allowed to open in July, it would only allow the City of Malta a few weeks to have the pool open. It would be hard for City to hire lifeguards for the season and getting them certified would prove to be a problem.

The Malta City Council voted unanimously to open parks to the public in Malta, but bathrooms will remain closed.

"We are not going to be out making sure people are following rules and neither will the Sheriff's Office," Mayor Demarais said.

The Council unanimously voted that the Malta Weight Room in City Hall will reopen on May 18, though social-distance rules will be in place which will limit the amount of people who can use the area at one time and will include several daily cleaning by the Parks and Rec crew. The Malta Gym will remain closed at this time per the advice of the Phillips County Health Department.

Mayor Demarais said he had received several calls from people complaining about stray cats around the City of Malta. In a social media post on Friday, May 15, Mayor Demarais added made the following statement:

I have talked to the Animal Officer in Havre and he gave me a brief description of the Trap Spay Neuter and Release. (TSNR) The program is funded by a non-profit group of people who love cats. They have different ways of funding the program. He told me the population will diminish quickly and it is very successful. This idea is on the City Agenda for the May 26, 2020 meeting that is held in the City Hall at 5pm the public is encouraged to attend the meeting. If you plan on attending please bring positive ideas on this item. This not going to happen quickly there many steps that have to be taken before it can be put into place. The City will still be responding to citizens complaints on cats. It was never our intention to set traps all through out the City only when we had citizens complaints. I welcome all positive feedback and ideas.

John Demarais


City of Malta

In other Council news, the aldermen unanimously voted in favor for the City of Malta to donate $1,000 to the Stagecoach Restoration Committee as matching grant funds that organization has applied for and received (the Committee will receive $2,000 in return money for the grant thanks to the City of Malta's donation.) The Mud Wagon - which has a long and storied history in Phillips County and was originally in use from 1904 until 1915 when it was used to transport passengers between Zortman, Malta, and Dodson - has been in Bozeman awaiting restoration once the funds are accrued to allow the work to commence. The Mud Wagon is the property of the City of Malta and Antique Modes of Transportation Museum on Highway 2 when the work is complete.


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