Looking Back

May 20 — Two grade school teachers are retiring after arriving together in Baker 44 years ago. LaDonna Freimark and Brenda McPhee came to  Baker to teach and now they are both retiring. . .The Spartan girls track team took the district championship; and the girls tennis team are divisional champs. The track team will go to divisionals in Laurel and the tennis team will go to Missoula for the state tournament. . . .The former Masonic Temple, now owned by Charity Chapter 60 Order of the Eastern Star, is selling at public auction. The planning and building of the building started in 1954 by a committee of J.K. Munsell and Fred Morrow. . . Twelve year old Hannah Goerndt of Baker became a state winner of the SIFMA Foundation’s Fall 2015 InvestWrite® competition. Hannah, a seventh grader at Baker Middle School, won first place for the state of Montana in the middle school division of InvestWrite. The program challenges students to consider an investing scenario and make recommendations that incorporate short and long term goals. . .Fifteen Baker High School students, two parents and one teacher attended Close Up in Washington, D.C., Apr. 17-22.

   May 27 — Fallon County Times celebrates 100th anniversary May 23-26 with an open house. In the early months of 1916, Baker had two weekly newspapers, The Baker Sentinel and The Fallonite. Then May 25, 1916, the  Fallonite was renamed the Fallon County Times and it has been that ever since. The Fallonite was owned and operated by C.R. and Mable C. Fagaines, and then the new owner, Butte H. Tipton, renamed it. . .Two Plevna teachers retire after 84 years of combined experience. Jan Stickney has retired after 45 years, and Jean Brenner has 39 years of teaching experience. . Baker High School holds 101st commencement. Valedictorian was Spencer Losing and salutatorian was Joe Fisher. Commencement  speaker was Isaac VanDyke. . .Plevna High School held their 87th commencement exercises. Valedictorian was Nicole Allerdings and salutatorian was Jessica Stockett. Keynote speaker was Pastor Bruce Inion. . .Bumble Bee Floral is closing. Their last day will be June 1.

  June 3 — Plevna School secretary Lynette Bohle O’Connor retires after 26 years. . Low temperature May 27 was 37 degrees. . .Ronald and Ramona Shepherd celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary May 28 in their home. Approximately 50 family and friends gathered to congratulate them. . .Spartan girls track team members place at the state meet held May 27-28 in Bozeman. Members of the team who placed were Elisa Hautala, Madison Reddick, Savanah Burkhalter, Scotti Robinson, and Morgan Miller. . .Senator Steve Daines donated two big boxes of books to the Plevna School Library. The books were from the Library of Congress. . .Fifty units of blood were donated May 25 at the United Blood Drive. . .Fallon County Times staff thanks all those who stopped by the office to help them celebrate their 100th anniversary. Winners of the 100 week subscriptions were Theresa Thompson and Dawn Lee.

   June 10 — Don Schillinger, Baker High School Superintendent, is retiring after 42 years. Schillinger has had a long career as a coach, taking the Baker High School football team to six state championships. . .Russell’s Clothing is celebrating its centennial. It is noted in the Mar,. 30, 1916 edition of The Fallonite Newspaper that Martin Russell  was going to rent the back half of the Joel Doull Clothing Store and he started the first furniture store in Baker. In 1923 Mr. Doull sold his clothing store to Martin Russell and Martin discontinued his furniture line and changed the name of the store  to Russell’s Clothing. . .Montana State High School Rodeo Finals get underway this week in Baker. The first official competition began June 6 with the Rodeo Queen Contest. Girls competing for the title are Jaqueline Van Vleet, Cheyanne Morrison and Opal Harkins. . .Noah Arnold is pictured with a 9 lb. 32 inch northern pike he caught at Sandstone June 7. Noah is nine years old and the son of Toby and Mandi Arnold. . .Unofficial Primary Election results shows Dave Havens as the winner in the County Commissioner race. . . Classic Car Cruisers held their 17th annual car show June 4. The 90 cars exhibited were from Montana, North and South Dakota and Kansas.  Alvin Croy presented this year’s Eddy Award to Jed Hendricks from Ekalaka.   

   June 17 —  Violent F-3 tornado strikes Baker. June 11, 2016 will go down in Fallon County history as the “day the tornado struck Baker”. Baker was hit by an F-3 tornado at about 6:50 p.m. injuring seven residents while demolishing at least two houses and damaging up to 50 more homes. . . .  Lt. Governor Mike Cooney is pictured at the Baker Municipal Airport June 14. He came to survey the devastation caused by the June 11 F-3 tornado. . .As of June 12, Baker Lake is closed to swimming, fishing and boating due to debris and will remain closed until further notice. . .Baker Homecraft Club hosted the Spring Council meeting for all homemaker clubs in Fallon/Carter Counties June 1 at the Senior Citizen Center in Baker. . .Opal Harkins of Lockwood was crowned 2016 Montana State High School Rodeo Queen at the State Finals Rodeo held here June 6-12.

   June 24 — As of June 6, six houses have been razed due to the June 11 tornado and eight more need to come down. Total tons of debris taken to the landfill – 1,392.49. . . Kenny and June Grenstiner will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary June 26. . . C.B. and Laurie Heiser, owners of the Corner Bar, passed the torch after 30 years in business to Dustin Varner and Chris Heiser. . .June 18, Greg Gianforte, gubernatorial candidate, was in Baker to help with the tornado clean up. . .   Winners of the June 17 – 18 Baker Oilfield Open Golf Tournament were Bernie Nagel, Johnny Jones, Randy Hastig, Daniel Chester, Wade Blankenbaker, Eric Nelson. . . The Sons of the American Legion and helpers estimate they fed 700 people in the four days they operated the food center after the tornado. The food center was based out of the fire station.      

   July 1 —  The Splash Park, located at Iron Horse Park in Baker, is officially open for summer fun. . .Fallon County is in the process of determining the best solution for removing the debris from Baker Lake. . .Montana’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Monica J. Lindeen, invites Baker area residents affected by the tornado to bring questions about property insurance straight to the experts June 30 at the Fallon County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. . . Nellie MacKay Rost celebrated her 90th birthday May 7. . .The Red Cross continues to meet with individuals and families in Baker who were impacted by the Baker tornado to assist them with their immediate disaster-related needs. . .

   July 8 — Susie Newell retired after 42 years at the Times. . .The Baker community welcomed Travis Allen, P.A. at an open house reception on June 22. . .“Paint Your World Purple” is the theme of Fallon County’s seventh annual Relay for Life.  The event will be July 15. . .The Fallon County Fair, in partnership with county relief workers, hosted a BBQ for local area residents on June 30 to honor the many volunteers that worked to make the MSHSRF a success, as well as to honor tornado survivors and county emergency relief workers and community volunteers who assisted during after the tornado struck Baker. . .Fallon County Day ushers in July 4th celebration.

   July 15 — Mayor Clayton Hornung presented Shirley Sakelaris the 2016 Citizen of the Year award at the city council meeting on June 23. . .Kaylin and Quentin Wheeler won the prestigious honor of attending the National High School Rodeo Finals to being held July 15 – 23 in Gillette, WY. . .Fallon County gets second  round of severe thunderstorms on July 10. Reports of 2” size hail in the area, and Baker received 1.15” of rain. Reports of damage to vehicles, homes, trees, gardens, crops, and livestock were substantial. . .Golva poker run benefits tornado relief on Saturday, July 16.  Forty-five motorcycles dismounted and toured the ground zero site of Baker’s June 11 tornado. They made  contribution of $2,950. . .Denbury Resources presented a $15,000 check toward the tornado relief efforts.

   July 22 — Area residents from the communities of Baker, Plevna, Wibaux, and Ekalaka were clad in purple when they participated in the annual Relay for Life on July 15 in Baker. . .The Fallon County Commissioners and Environmental Health Department have suspended the no fishing on Baker Lake to shoreline fishing only. Debris from our tornado is still a concern, so no water entry is allowed. The Friends of FMC Foundation sponsored the 13th annual Lights of Life event on Sunday, July 24 in the Healing Garden at the Fallon Medical Complex. . .Thanks to the tremendous support of the greater community at large, the Baker Tornado Relief fund, as of July 18, is a whopping $70,000. . .Thirty-one riders saddled up for the 2016 St. Jude’s Trail Ride on Father’s Day, June 19.

   July 29 — The highlight of the entire summer is the Fallon County Fair and rodeo. This five day event, Wednesday through Sunday, August 17-21, will feature exhibits, livestock, a parade, carnival rides, free daily entertainment, commercial displays, food vendors, a demolition derby, rodeos, and nightly entertainment. The Eli Young Band will perform for one concert on Saturday. . .The Baker Chamber of Commerce hosted two Crazy Days on July 23 and 24 . This gave Baker business customers a chance to enjoy a day of fun downtown.  Many businesses had in-store specials and sidewalk bargains throughout both days. . .Cheryl Schultz talked about rangeland monitoring at the Tri-County Weed Tour hosted by the Extension Offices in Fallon, Prairie, and Wibaux counties. Despite it being over 100 degrees, there was a great attendance for the annual tour. . . Esther Opp Wetzel celebrated her 90th birthday on July 31 at the Evangelical Church in Plevna. . .Fallon County Fair offers new attraction. Indian Relay, America’s oldest competition  will be at the fair August 19-21.

   August 5 — Dennis Koenig, rancher from north of Baker, was honored as he retired July 27 after 30 years of serving as a board member on the Fallon County District Fire Board. Dennis will continue serving as a firefighter. . .Effective August 1, campfires and smoking will be banned at Medicine Rocks State Park in Carter County, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks. Carter County Commissioners enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions due to increasingly dry conditions and concerns about potential human-caused fires. . .Fallon County Emergency Services coordinator Chuck Lee received word August 1 that he had been nominated as a member of the Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group (RECCWG). Lee, a Baker resident, has the honor of being the only member who is not an employee of the State. . .Miss Opal Harkins from Billings, MT was crowned Miss National High School Rodeo Queen on July 23, at the NHSRF in Gillette, WY. . .WBI Energy and Montana-Dakota Utilities donated $7,500 on August 2, to support relief efforts in the wake of the June 11 tornado. . .Judge Benefiel attended The National Judges Association (NJA) in Biloxi, MS. . .Travis Dean r   ecognized with top honors at FBLA National Leadership Conference in Atlanta. Travis is the son of Brandon and Beth Dean and the grandson of Barney and Shelley Dean of Baker.

   August 12 — Governor Steve Bullock announced that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding has been made available to the State of Montana to support recovery efforts of Fallon County in the aftermath of a severe tornado on June 11. . .The Fallon County Times welcomes Tina Rost in the graphics department. . . New to the Baker School District this year will be Amanda Sikorski Tunby. Amanda will be teaching first grade.  Jennifer Dukart is excited to be teaching kindergarten in her hometown this fall. . .Young entrepreneurs of summer featured Aiden Rabbitt and his thriving lawn mowing service, Aiden’s Lawn Care. . .Fallon County Recreation Dept. Youth Rodeo Playday was August 6, at the Fallon County Fairgrounds Outdoor Arena where 16 contestants participated.

   August 19 — FEMA and Montana Disaster Emergency Services visit Baker. They were conducting a briefing to Fallon County and City of Baker applicants as they proceed to set-up documentation to receive federal funding after Baker was designated to receive a Presidential Disaster Declaration. . .New to the Baker School District will be Tieler Soumas. Tieler will be teaching Agricultural Science at the high school, grades 9 – 12. . .Darold Brown, D.O. Brown Co., has completed the painting  on the Fallon County Library cathedral ceiling/skylight. He was assisted by Joe Janz, Courthouse maintenance. . .Baker and Plevna students start school on Wednesday, August 24. . .First place team at the Ladies Open Golf Tournament  on August 6 were Louise Varner, Nancy Johnson and Brittani Brence. . Junior Chippers had a successful first camp. Junior Chippers is a youth golf program for grades kindergarten through 8th grade. . .Bob Nelson, of Baker, was honored at a steak fry on July 29, to mark his retirement after working for WBI energy for 41 plus years.

August 26 — Two new administrators at Baker High School. Jon Wrzesinski, has taken the helm as the new Superintendent at Baker High School for the 2016-2017 school year.  Jacob Gion is the new vice principal. . .The O’Fallon Community Choir will start preparing for their Christmas Concert September 5, at 7 p.m. in the Longfellow music room.  .  .The Fallon County Fair, held August 17-21, orchestrated under the direction of Barb Lechler, fair secretary, the Fair Board, fair employees and many devoted volunteers was nothing but spectacular. The fairs theme, “Country Nights and Carnival Lights” offered a world of adventure to wide-eye fairgoers of all ages. . .Picture: Double amputee, Dana Bowman, started the rodeo each day by skydiving with the American flag dropping into the arena. Bowman is a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army where he was a Special Forces Soldier. . . Montana is currently in the process of adopting new Science standards. . .Fallon Medical Complex (FMC) has been working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to implement a “Smoke-Free Campus” that prohibits smoking (including “vaping”) anywhere on FMC property starting September 1, 2016. Smoking has been prohibited inside FMC buildings since the late 1990’s, but will now be extended to include all of its parking lots, sidewalks, landscaped areas, etc., as well as its remote properties, such as the Wibaux Clinic and its rental housing elsewhere in Baker.

September 2 — Mayor Clayton Hornung, who has served as the mayor of Baker for the past 24 years, turned in his resignation on August 23. Hornung who has had health issues the past few months, made the decision to step aside just short of one year and four months of fulfilling his term. . City Council holds special meeting on August 23, in the basement of City Hall to address the vacancy of Mayor Clayton Hornung, after he turned in his letter of resignation. JoDee Huckins Pratt, long-standing city alderman has been appointed mayor until the next general municipal election to be held in 2017. . Christina Schmid is the new Special Education teacher for K-6 grades. She is home based in the Lincoln School and travels to the Longfellow school each day. Michelle Wrzesinski is another new teacher this fall and will be teaching 6th grade at the Longfellow school. . .The residents of Superior Care Villa held a Rock-A-Thon Fundraiser for our local Community Cupboard. The residents who participated rocked a total of nine hours and raised $1,200. . .For 2016-17 there are some new teachers and staff joining the Plevna Schools. Mr. Sawers, History teacher/Counselor, Ms. Parker, art instructor, Mrs. Downing, the first grade teacher, Mrs. Fujimori, 5th grader teacher, Mrs. Oberlander, the pre-school teacher,  Mrs. Hildebrand, the school’s new Secretary,  and Berdie Rieger, Assistant Cook. . .Picture: Chris Schell awards “Jalapeno Jerry” Hanes $400 gift certificate to Reynolds Market; Jerry was the winner of the first ever Chili Pepper Eating Contest held at Reynolds Market.

September 9 — New siren installed on the east side of the old firehall is the new disaster siren. The siren makes three different sounds; one is a warning for an attack,  the second sound is an alert for fire calls and the third sound is for chemical spills and other warnings. Another feature is that it can be battery powered if the electricity goes off. . .New charges filed in Bowman murder case. Chase Duane Swanson and Madison Beth West have been charged with a Chass AA felony of conspiracy to commit murder. . .Picture: Olga Ehret of Superior Care Villa turned 100 years young. . .The Baker Spartans hosted the Wolf Point Wolves for thier first home game of the season and defeated them 47-0. . .Northwest Farm Credit Service awarded Products of the Prairie in Baker, MT, a $1,000 Northwest FCS Rural Community Grant. . .The Fallon County Fair Board honored the late Rodney Askin with a special tribute and presentation to his family during the Saturday performance of the Fallon County Fair rodeo. Picture: Fair Board member Eddie Coulter presented Marilyn Askin with a Montana Silversmiths memorial buckle.

   September 16 — The Community of Baker is saddened to learn of the passing of former Mayor Clayton Hornung. Clayton passed away September 12 in Billings, MT. . .JoDee Huckins Pratt was sworn into office, as the mayor of the City of Baker, on August 30. Pratt was appointed in the wake of the resignation of Mayor Clayton ClaytonHornung. . .Baker Chamber hosts Fall Festival Street Fair on September 10. . .Southeast Montana’s first farmers and crafters market took place on September 10 at the Fallon County Fairgrounds in Baker. . .Farmers Union Oil/Cenex of Baker announced a delay in the construction of their new facility. Construction will resume in Spring/Summer 2017. . .Oneok, Rockies Midstream, a subsidiary of Oneok Partners, presented a $5,000 check toward the Baker Relief Fund. The money is to benefit those affected by the June 11 tornado in Baker.

  September 23 — Dr. Espeland will be retiring from his full-time medical practice as of October 20, from Fallon Medical Complex. FMC will be holding a retirement event for Dr. Espeland on that date. . .Katie Brawley appointed executive director of Baker Chamber of Commerce on September 8. . .Olind family’s grandson a hero. Tom Patterson, sacrificed his life to help save four swimmers from the raging Missouri River near Elk Point, SD. This young hero is the son of Walter and Joene (Olind) Patterson, formerly of Baker. . .The Positive Choices Youth Conference is scheduled for October 4. The speaker for this year’s conference is Dr. Leonard Sax. . .The Class of 1966 gathered in Baker on September 14-16, for their fifty-year reunion. . .The City of Baker will conduct a siren drill on September 28, at 7 p.m.. This drill is to help familiarize city residents with the three various sounds now being used to warn the public in times of peril. . .Stage 1 fire restrictions to be lifted at Medicine Rocks State Park effective September 16. . .Picture: Baker Fire Department displays Old Glory in honor of the fifteenth Anniversary of 9/11.

   September 30 — New face in county goverment.  Jason Rittal began his position as the Fallon County Development Advisor on June 1 of this year. . .Picture: Luke Gonsioroski was crowned 2016 Homecoming King and Melissa Breitbach was crowned queen during cornonation held Monday, September 26. . .Baker High School graduate wins national honors.  Dennis Wagner, Baker High School, class of 1980, received Federal Employee of the Year. . .On Monday, September 26, the Baker FFA Chapter traveled to Miles City, MT for the Eastern District Fall Career Development Event. . .Lincoln and Longfellow Schools are participating in Walk to School day on October 5.

   October 7 — Local student’s virus discovery leads to more research. Bo Rost, a junior at Baker High School has discovered a novel virus that kills the bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatic, a cousin to the bacteria that caused Tuberculosis. . .Aimee Wiman Wagner, daughter of Rick and Debi Wiman of Baker, was chosen as the 2017 Regional Teacher, in Leola, S.D. . .Highway #7 project nears completion. Mel Mader, project manager said last week that a second coat of plant mix is the only step left to complete on the project. The final chip and seal will be added in June 2017. . .The Baker Spartans played hard to defeat Forsyth Dogies 50-23 in their homecoming game. . .Darold Brown was a recipient of the 2016 4-H Hall of Fame Award. . .Harold Pratt World War II vet receives 62 year old certificate. Pratt completed the welding and farm equipment repair program after returning from the war, but hadn’t received his certificate. Drury Phebus arranged to award Harold with his 62 year old certificate. . .Fast Draw Shoot returned to Baker on September 23-25, at the Fallon County Exhibit Hall.

October 14 — A lawsuit spanning seven years, four judges, two city mayors and numberous city councilmen was finally settled last month. Tom and Pam Owens, owners of the Tavern Bar, reached a $200,000 settlement with the city of Baker. The couple sued the city, for emotional stress and defamation following an incident in 2009 when officers reported their bar had served alcohol after the legal closing hour. . .Picture: Montana  Senator Steve Daines and Senator Eric Moore visit constituents in Baker Oct. 5. . .The Baker Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s 1920’s Gatsby theme party and prime rib dinner, its annual fundraiser, held at Thee Garage Showroom on the evening of Oct. 8. . .Picture: Marc Rieger and the Thielen twins, from Plevna, MT pose with 140 pound male lion. . .The Baker Spartan football team traveled to Poplar on Oct. 7, and defeated them 42-6. . .The Plevna FFA members help with firemen’s supper on Oct. 6. . .Success Story of the week was Bohle Images. Bohle Images Photography Studio is physically located in a newly constructed studio, but the true location of the art studio is in the mind of a well-trained artist, Certified Professional Photographer Leslie Bohle.