Friday, April 19, 2024

Plains considers lease of railroad property

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| March 15, 2023 12:00 AM

The March’s Plains Council meeting was standing-room only to address the many agenda items.

Mayor Chris Allen presented his monthly report starting with the town water system. Water loss due to leakage was at 19%, which is considered within projected estimates.

Allen next discussed acquiring grants to replace two police patrol cars. The grant funding would cover 75% of the $108,292 of the purchase price of the two vehicles, with the town picking up the remaining 25% or $36,217. The town is waiting for notification of the grant’s acceptance.

The town is looking at acquiring new iPhones for the public and police departments.

Allen said the town is looking for someone to take charge of spring cleanup day. Plains Police Officer Chris Reyna volunteered for the project.

A small section of land around Stud’s and Town Pump that is currently owned by Montana Rail Link could be leased out to the town for public use. The lease may go forward after Montana Rail Link transfers ownership of the property to BNSF Railway.

Crosswalks and pothole repairs will be addressed when weather conditions improve.

Under unfinished business, the council discussed the dog ordinance and decided to wait until more information comes in about the Montana Rail Link property lease, which was under consideration as a possible dog park.

The council voted to accept the BaRSAA resolution. BaRSAA is state funded program which collects money through fuel taxes, gross vehicle weight fees and other related fees. The funds are deposited in to a highway state revenue account and is disbursed to counties, cities and towns to help local municipalities pay for road and bridge repairs.

Montana's roads and bridges are mainly funded through a combination of federal (88.5%) and state/local (11.5%) funding sources. Federal road and bridge revenues are generated from the users of our highways through gasoline and diesel fuel taxes and apportioned to states through federal highway legislation.

Sanders County Emergency Manager Bill Naegeli was on hand to discuss the recent railroad derailments around the country. He reviewed the county plan if such an event occurred in the County.

To review the plan go to:

Naegeli suggested that because of the wide use of cellphones, that all county resident register their phone numbers and addresses so that emergency officials can quickly locate the callers. Resident can register their phones at or call 406-203-0082.

Naegeli said that those individuals that are shut-ins should register. This would notify emergency personal who needs extra assistance.

Local resident Loren Hutnick asked if Montana Rail Link has offered training to local police and fire departments. Naegeli answered in the positive, but did say it has been a couple of years since the last emergency response training.

Next on the council’s agenda, Sandy Revier gave a proposal to utilize the old tennis court location at the pool park for the construction of several pickleball courts. She also requested a vote from the council to authorize the use of the old tennis court location.

Revier said that funding would be by grant and private donations at a cost of approximately $27,000. Council members voted unanimously in the affirmative.

Mayor Allen was concerned about the cost of maintaining the courts. Revier said that the upkeep of the courts would be covered under private donations.

Several equipment upgrades and construction projects were voted on and approved with one project being a water system infrastructure mapping program called CIS. This is a subscription service costing about $500 per year and would increase the efficiency for the public works department with maintenance.

The council voted to renew the town engineer's contract for another two years.


New Plains Ward 3 Councilor John Roesler at the March meeting. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)


Sanders County Emergency Manager Bill Naegeli at the March council meeting. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)


Sandy Revier speaks to the Plains council about adding pickleball courts at the pool park. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)