The Roundup -

Economy Would Suffer With Unfavorable Ruling

 

James Brower, project manager of the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, urges residents to attend the public meetings in Sidney, Glendive and Billings.

Garth Kallevig, president of Stockman Bank in Sidney, said he wasn't too concerned when he first heard about the controversy pertaining to pallid sturgeon and the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project years ago.

"I honestly didn't take it too seriously," Kallevig said during the community meeting in Sidney on June 21. "I thought we were more the Goliath and the environmentalists were the David. I thought common sense would prevail."

Flash forward and concerns about the community's economic future because of the Environmental Impact Statement is the top topic around the area.

"The roles have kind of reversed in my mind," Kallevig said. "We are now the David and the environmentalists are the Goliath."

Kallevig urged area residents to be prepared for the public meetings.

"The only way to beat this is to be prepared and be ready for a fight," Kallevig said. "None of us want the pallid sturgeon to go away, but we need some common sense."

After the public meeting in Sidney at the Richland County Event Center at 5:30 p.m. on June 28, Glendive will host a public meeting on June 29 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Dawson County High School auditorium. Buses will leave for Glendive beginning at 4:30 p.m. The last bus will leave at 5:30 p.m. to accommodate people working until 5 p.m.

For the meeting in Billings on June 30, three buses will be available. People should meet at Sidney High School's south parking lot by 12:30 p.m. The buses will leave between 1-1:30 p.m.

Officials stressed throughout the community meeting how vital it is for the area to have a large turnout at the meetings, especially the one in Billings.

During speeches during the well-attended community meeting, business leaders pointed out how the area depends on the irrigation project.

"It would devastate this community," Chip Gifford, co-owner of Johnson Hardware and Furniture, said. "We're not against the pallid sturgeon. We're trying to keep what we have - our economy and lives - as well as the environment."

Gifford added, "This will become a dust bowl. The town will dry up."

Tami Christensen, co-owner of Tri-County Implement, said, "Without irrigation here, it will definitely change the dynamics of our business."

Christensen noted, "It's going to affect our community. Every business should be at these meetings."

Board of Control member Richard Cayko provides facts about the project during the community meeting held in Sidney.

Kallevig said that $2.2 million of taxes are generated because of the irrigation project. He said the total of sugar beet payments average between $30-$60 million.

"If this revenue was lost, it would be critical to our businesses," Kallevig noted.

"It all ties back to the local economy," Lee Candee of Agri Industries said. "Ag is still the base of this economy. It will always be here."

Richard Cayko, a board member for the irrigation project and a McKenzie County commissioner, urged residents to take the time and attend the public meetings.

"We have to band together and show support for the alternative of weir and the bypass channel," Cayko said.

Conrad Conradsen, a board of control member, added, "Once they take the diversion dam out, we are in the hurt. We can't afford to pump water. We will lose this whole community."

 

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