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Commissioners Hear Concerns About Poplar Roundabouts

At the regular public meeting Dec. 12, the Roosevelt County Commissioners heard concerns from Georgia Gibbs-Atkinson, a Poplar resident, about two potential roundabouts proposed for U.S. Hwy. 2 in Poplar.
The commissioners also approved new hires and tabled a task order for the new Federal Aviation Administration hangar in Wolf Point.
Gibbs-Atkinson came to the meeting to make the commissioners aware of a petition she has been carrying around opposing two roundabouts proposed for U.S. Hwy. 2 in Poplar. Gibbs-Atkinson said that she has received many signatures opposing the roundabouts in question.
Gibbs-Atkinson said, “Poplar people will not understand a roundabout, and I don’t mean that in a rude way. They already barely use stop signs.”
Another primary concern of hers is how little involvement the public has had in the proposed project.
As far as Gibbs-Atkinson and many people in Poplar she has discussed her issues with know, there have been very few if any public meetings regarding the proposed roundabouts.
Gibbs-Atkinson said that she had been discussing the project with the corporation looking to build the roundabouts based out of Glendive. However, Gibbs-Atkinson couldn’t recall the name of the company or the woman she spoke with.
The company told Gibbs-Atkinson that they spoke with the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board, but Gibbs-Atkinson said that when they spoke to the board it was at least two terms ago. She was assured that the new board was not in favor of the project.
Another issue that Gibbs-Atkinson proposed is that heavy vehicles would have to make a detour and would skip Poplar all-together. She believes this could potentially hurt commerce for the tiny town. She proposed other solutions such as new traffic lights and so on. Gibbs-
Atkinson was adamant that she believes there are better solutions and ways that this money could be spent.
Gibbs-Atkinson said that she would be meeting the developers later that day to further discuss issues she has with the project.
Commissioner Gordon Oelkers said that he believes that the people of Poplar would be able to learn how to use a roundabout.
He also said, “It’s a state highway so they have to hold certain standards,” saying that the roundabouts would have to be made to support heavy vehicles.
Commissioner Gary Macdonald said that there is a law on the books that says highways can’t divert traffic away from a town so there was no fear of Poplar being bypassed.
Oelkers said that he drives through Poplar on a regular basis and that traffic is often too fast going through the small highway town. He believes that the roundabouts would slow traffic down going through Poplar and make the area safer.
“There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Oelkers. “Maybe don’t say no to it just yet, maybe just have all of your questions answered first.”
Gibbs-Atkinson said that she doesn’t think roundabouts are inherently bad, just that they would be bad for Poplar.
Macdonald said that he is ultimately undecided on where to stand on the project. However, he did express his concern about how the people of Poplar would handle roundabouts.
Commissioner Duane Nygaard remained silent and didn’t express his opinion.
Task order number five from Interstate Engineering was presented to the commissioners at this meeting. This task order is Interstate Engineering’s fee for their work with the FAA hangar being built by Fisher Construction at L.M. Clayton Airport in Wolf Point.
John Bach, of Interstate Engineering, was present at the meeting to present the task order. However, Bach did not have exact figures for the total cost of the project and the percentage that Interstate Engineering would be paid.
Bach did mention that 95 percent of the cost is paid by the FAA and that the remaining 5 percent is split between Roosevelt County and the City of Wolf Point. This brings the total cost of the county to $500.
The commissioner ultimately tabled the task order until more complete figures could be presented to them.
Other items approved at this meeting include the following:
•Dhareen Villaluz was hired for Roosevelt County dispatch at a special meeting Nov. 27.
•At the special meeting, Nov. 27, the commissioners approved cover and painting of cinder blocks in four offices of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.
•At a special meeting, Nov. 30, the commissioner hired Arthur Allen as the tobaccos and DUI task force coordinator for the health department.
•At the Nov. 30 meeting, the commissioners also approved a top seal for the L.M. Clayton Airport.
•Kelli Hackley was hired at the Roosevelt County Library main branch.
•Claims for Nov. 24 in the amount of $127,323.90.
•Claims for Dec. 6 in the amount of $186,990.68.
•Minutes for the regular public meeting, Nov. 21, special administrative meeting, Nov. 27, special administrative meeting, Nov. 30 and the month of November.