10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

Commission Minutes – October 17-21, 2022

Commission Minutes – October 17-21, 2022



PRESENT: Roy Rost, Chairman; Steve Baldwin and Kevin Braun, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder


The Pledge of Allegiance was held in the Commissioner’s Office to start off the week.

9:02 AM Brenda Stoddard joined.

9:04 AM Jeff Frank, Manager of Landfill Operations joined.


          Container site-Jeff will be gone most of the week next week. Decision was to have Paul man the Container Site on Wednesday and Mike will operate the scale at the Landfill.  They will not run any equipment at the Landfill on Wednesday, (for safety reasons). Contact Bobby Wiedmer, Road Superintendent and find out if someone from the Road Department can empty the containers before Saturday the 28th.

          Jeff has not received any quotes for the container lids as of this time.

9:08 AM Jeff left the meeting.


Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve the October 3-7, 2022 Commissioner Minutes, with corrections.  Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.


Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to approve the October 10-14 Commissioner Minutes, with corrections.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

9:21 AM Dana Kono, Public Member joined.

9:24 AM Richard Menger, FMC Board Member joined.

9:25 AM Ken Griffith, Public Member joined.

9:26 AM David Espeland, Marissa Skogen and Judy McWilliams, FMC joined.

9:26 AM Marty Asay and Sandy Kinsey, Public Members joined.

9:28 AM Jean Brenner, Public Member joined.

9:28 AM Darcy Wassmann, County Attorney joined.

9:28 AM Jason Griffith, Public Member joined.

9:30 AM Mary Grube, Public Member joined.

9:30 AM FMC CONTRACT DISCUSSION/Brenda Stoddard, Member of the Public

Brenda Stoddard read from her letter, which is as follows:

Dated: 10-17-22

19 months ago, this project started with a meeting with the FMC board that was stacked with people that David Espeland wanted in the room, a county Commissioner was locked out as was the public, then when I walked out Mangers that were in the room to fill the room walked out and yelled at the public and the Commissioner that were locked outside!!
My information and requests were listed as “Things heard in the community” per FMC minutes of March 3 2021. Not taken seriously!
Very soon after David was in this very office and spoke with you, telling you “Don’t worry about Brenda Stoddard this will all blow over in two weeks and “She sells booze for a living what could she possibly know about business”!!
My husband and I have been main street business owners for over 32 years and work 80-100 hours a week to make our businesses work and meet our bottom line!! We are OWNERS not managers as David Espeland is!! When David can’t pay for the peas and wipes he just sends the bill to Fallon County and we the taxpayers pay for it, when he “Forgets” to pay the just under 1 Million dollar PERS money for the retirement for the employees he comes crawling to the county! Per County Commissioner Minutes! As business owners we don’t have that luxury!! Just one of the grants given to FMC during COVID was 3 million dollars and yet Fallon County paid for the disinfectant and the wipes!! WHY?
Selena Nelson previous CFO stood up at the Commissioner’s FMC Contract+ meeting last summer stating that they (FMC) were not trying to defraud the County but that she was told by David Espeland
to spend every dime that they (County) would give us!!
Dr. Espeland (Retired) in October of 2016 per FMC minutes. Yet, FMC continued to bill all medical bills under his name and number through a Q6 modifier! Not credentialing the other Providers for over 8 YEARS!! If the CEO and the FMC board were doing their jobs that would have been caught. That is illegal per Total Health Care False Claims Act!!  Managers are changing peoples insurance to self-pay rather than get pre approval for services. Illegal!! How is FMC collecting any money? They have no Dr. on staff full time.
A           Read Attached sheet of requirements. (The minute taker did not attach those sheets, but they explain the “False Claims Act”; “Credentialing”, and the “q6 modifier”).
Per FMC minutes dated March 2 2016 FMC received a million dollar grant 340b for Indigent Medication. A company SunRX was contracted to manage the program however no information is found, No Policy, No Procedure, No required training, CFO nor hospital pharmacy has any information nor does the local
pharmacy!! That is Fraud!
DOT physicals were not logged for months (24 Hours) is the timeline and the Federal website was
actually accessed by the Clinic Manger Katie Ducharme with a password of a person retired for years! This affects every CDL issued by the State of Montana through FMC for how many years????
Pediatric consents are not in place (Illegal). No one knows the proper procedure and providers were
“Yelled at” by Judy McWilliams and Katie Ducharme for trying to document and do the paperwork per state law! Again illegal!!
August 10 2016 FMC Minutes. Motion was made to offer $250,000 salary with a $75,000 sign on bonus to recruit physicians. Why don’t we try RETENTION of the Providers we have. Per FMC minutes Travis Allen was to be PA-C certified in DOT physicals. Yet David Espeland chased him away also. His father was here to help him build a home for his family he truly loved Baker. Again another career David Espeland ruined!
Community Access to Healthcare survey in 2019 85.5 % of those surveyed# 1 response was Consistent Primary Care Provider! Obviously, David and the Board did not read that page. Hospital used most 2011
facility chosen 71.2 % was FMC-2019 52.9 % again obviously that page was not read either.
An Urgent need ad was listed by FMC with a company that they use for their many LOCUM (Traveling) workers that they use; listing coverage needed for one week make $4,800-8,300. Make $80 an hour for all direct patient care and $55 for on call. Can you imagine what that money could do for a local family.
In 2018 $1,656,434 was paid to LOCUM (traveling) workers at FMC. That money left Fallon County, can you imagine what that money could have done for families in Baker. David Espeland and the board have no concerns about the small businesses in Baker they are not looking out for the community at all!
In 2019 a provider’s base salary was listed at $135,091, with the above number of $1.6 million that
would give FMC 12 providers!!
With the members of the community now following their perspective providers out of town roughly a third of Fallon County may need medical care in any given month that money is leaving Fallon County. Rough figures estimate a person may spend between $500 and $1,000 during that trip out of town buying groceries, medicine and eating out and buying fuel, that total is$1million dollars a month that will leave Fallon County! That is $12 million dollars a year!
    In a business such as FMC a chain of command is put in place to deal with the day-to-day operating of the hospital and clinic. As FMC sits now that chain of command is severely broken. The Department heads have had to become (Micro) CEO’s because they fear retaliation and retribution from the CEO if they try to do the correct thing. Employees /Providers and then went to the board and were stonewalled again as they work DIRECTLY for the CEO!
Then comes the written and verbal abuse, retaliation, and retribution from the CEO because they are trying to do their job. Eventually the abuse is to much as now they are targeted from the mangers as
well directed by David and then move on. The chain of command has been replaced by a Dictator and
you do not dare cross him or he uses his (Poison Pen) as Karol Zachmann alludes to from the providers and turns them into the Montana Medical board and they have to fight to retain their license against False allegations!
29 years ago our Son was born here with a surgeon and anesthesiologist present, we had visiting surgeons not nurses. What happened to our facility. I can tell you, David Espeland the new CEO rolled into town and one by one wiped it all away, filling the board with people who would not rock the boat, keeping the membership a secret from the community.
The people responsible for this problem stem from David to the FMC board and the County Commissioners as they have fed the hospital with money with taxpayers money.
The Commissioners have the power to revoke the Contract for the above allegations of breaking of the law. I am asking that you pull the contract and not renew until David Espeland and the board are replaced.
When you have an 80 year old member of the community call you and ask you to come to her house and she is in tears because her provider is leaving and she is not able to follow her. That’s what is happening to our elderly in our community.
When you have a young man take his son to the ER in the middle of the night and the door is locked and no one answers after repeated ringing of the buzzer and kicking and pounding on the door, that is the last straw!!
If any of you Commisioners are worried about a lawsuit from David Espeland than you do not deserve to sit in the chair that you do. You asked for this job, campaigned the County for this job and vowed to represent the County and do the best for this County. That has not happened in this case. You need to
stand up and do the right thing or step down!
                                                                                    s/Brenda Stoddard

9:35 AM Commissioner Rost asked for further questions; there were none.  Commissioner Rost concluded the meeting as there were no further questions. 

9:40 AM Brenda Stoddard left the meeting. 

9:45 AM HOSPITAL DISCUSSION/Becky Croy, Member of the Public

          Becky stated she was not going to get involved and our family has been to hell and back at that hospital.

We quietly decided to go to Miles City. Something has to be done; I don’t know how much control the Commission has other than money. Becky asked who decides who stays and goes? Commissioner Baldwin stated the Commission has no control of operations.  Becky stated, if the Board spends no time at the hospital how do they know what goes on? I don’t know how the board can decide who stays and who goes when they have no background.  How is this handled, what is the process for handling?  Becky is planning to go the Hospital Board meeting.  Commission suggested she address her questions with that board.  This has gone way too far; they say they have documented proof of why they don’t hire someone or why someone is let go; how does that work? Becky has a list of people coming in from all over the place. Becky does not know what happened with Caleb.

          Lisa and the Ambulance-Becky came in and stuck up for her and then she lost her pickup. Commission explained her job description does not warrant a pickup for 24 hours. Becky stated Lisa’s job is the most important job and we can’t afford her to have a pickup? Becky feels the Ambulance service is only as good as Lisa.

Commissioner Baldwin stated disciplinary actions are not public. Becky stated the Commission has to get out of their office to know what is going on.  Becky asked if the Commission had been out 20 miles and not gotten an ambulance? Discussed recruiting for EMT’s but are unable to get people that are interested. Becky further discussed the pickup for Lisa.   Becky would like the blood drive to be held at the Fairgrounds in the future.

10:10 AM Commissioner Rost concluded this meeting.

          Sandy has been here for a long time, and this is the worst time of her life. No one is doing anything; they are bitching about it. This is separation of state in this community; everyone is responsible and need to step-up.  

10:12 AM everyone left the meeting.

10:14 AM ROAD/SHOP UPDATES/Bobby Wiedmer, Road Superintendent; Mitch Overn and Carl Overland, Shop Mechanic

          Shop Updates-Landfill employees will need someone from the Road Department to empty the containers, (at the container site), next week. Anytime, as long as they are emptied before next Saturday. The Road Department will take care of this next week.  Repairs- The cv shaft on the Sheriff’s pickup went out; will place a new one. Discussed the Fire Warden vehicle and the lack of use it receives.  They had to replace the gas; discussed having individuals use it to go to trainings so it gets used. Otherwise, there may no longer be a need for the vehicle.

          Road Updates-Discussed a car gate on Cabin Creek Loop Road that will receive some maintenance.  They will soon start on the Ollie Road. Discussed measuring roads, Bobby stated they measured Ash Creek and Pine Creek Roads. Depending on the area measured, the roads were between 22’ – 26 wide; Bobby will address the issues. Discussed the west side of the road by Rising’s; Wibaux County felt maintenance was shared by the two counties.  Bobby stated Fallon County does not maintain the west side. Discussed a tree that had fallen on a landowner’s fence, into the County right of way.  Bobby stated normal practice is not to go onto private property to remove a tree that has fallen in the County’s right of way, normally the landowner takes care of this.  Commission will discuss with the landowner and then further discussion what will take place amongst the Commission. 

10:25 AM Bobby, Mitch and Carl left the meeting.

10:30 AM PROJECT UPDATES/Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering

10:35 AM Richard Menger, Sanitarian joined.

          Bridges-Commissioner Rost spoke to an adjoining Bonnievale Bridge landowner who is very pleased with the bridge and work completed. Contractors are working on the fencing for the Ismay bridge and finishing up punch list items for the Bonnievale Bridge. Shannon stated they have some work to complete for the erosion control blankets.  Plans to make a punch list for the Ismay Bridge today. It was not felt they need to schedule a walkthrough of the bridges. Shannon will bring a substantial completion letter for final payment for the Commission to approve.  The Ismay bridge end sections need to be finished and rip rap; also, final grading, finish around inlets and seeding will be completed this week. Lakeview Storm Water Project-Manholes are all filled, and plug is in place so the water will divert as needed.  The outlets will be monitored.

          Rich stated the upper lake does not have much water left. Mike Backes, FWP would like a copy of the O & M plan for the upper lake as he is curious as to timing of opening and closing the gates.  FWP placed 440 pounds of minnows in the lower lake last week. FWP will do more in the spring with live nets. Rich has Baker Metal building a key to shut the valve off for the waterfall; will find a place to store the key.  Rich will need to inspect the rip rap for the storm drain due to lakeshore regulations. Shannon will complete the environmental checklist during an advertised meeting. 

10:45 AM Rich left the meeting.

Discuss/Decision to move forward with Thielen Access Legal Survey per work order/proposal

          The Commission would like to move forward with the survey of the road, as per the petition.  Shannon stated they feel it will be 5 days in the field.  Bobby Thielen has been contacted and is fine with the survey.

          Parkview-The fuel tank inspectors recommend sealing off the lines.  Shannon will get a quote from the contractor to complete that work.

          Ismay Bridge grass seeding will be a BLM mix with native grasses. Discussed installation of gates on the last few bridges installed. Discussed adding them to previous bridges completed before the decision of gates was included. Shannon recommends County put in eye hooks and landowners purchase the gate. 

Commissioner Braun made the motion to move forward with a legal survey of Thielen Access per work order/proposal. Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion. Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously. 

11:00 AM Shannon left the meeting.

11:00 AM IT UPDATES/Josh Lewis, System Administrator

         UPDATES-Went to the parks with Robbie to view existing cameras. Everything is in place just need to have internet turned back on. Dustan pulled the equipment and shut off the internet; not sure why it was shut off unless systems were nonfunctional. Same thing at the ballfields, nothing in place; temperature could have been a concern.  Josh will do more research. Permission to contact Mid-Rivers. Robbie showed Josh the enclosure for the cameras at splash park/bike park, this fills with water. Commissioner Rost stated if the camera project is too large then Josh could find someone else to do this. May need to get someone to raise the box at the splash park.  Robbie would like to add cameras to the new gazebo area as well.  Josh feels he can do that work and will get a quote for it.  Discussed completing the cameras for the new building in this budget year and wait on the rest for the new fiscal year. Discussed using bridge points to get signal to all buildings around the lake; may lose signal with the lake but can try this. Commissioner Braun discussed the use of game cameras as an option. Shooting Range-Kirk Lineback, Board member contacted him about cameras for the trap building. Josh reset the password and got the cameras up and running. 

          Asset recovery management-Dell has a program which takes old equipment, wipe them clean and will try to resell the equipment; they give us credit toward purchasing new. Commission felt we should wipe our computers clean before sending; asked if the shipping was paid for.  Josh is not sure if they pay for shipping to get computers there but will find out.  Josh will get more information on the process.  Josh was looking into getting a shredder for hard drives; would like to look at the cost to purchase one. There was a power event last week that caused internet issues. Josh had to assist Dispatch Tuesday night and then had Clint Townsend assist getting the internet back for the courthouse the next day.  Part of the issue turned out to be the power bump and part of it was an IP address issue.

11:26 AM Sara Berger, Weed Control Coordinator joined.

Josh stated that problem should not happen again; the battery back-ups were not working properly. Moved the spare printers to the mother’s room. Trying to resolve the issues with the HP Printer. 

11:28 AM Josh left the meeting.


          Sara reported they are finished with the landowners and contract spraying.  They are working on the cattleguards right now.  The big tank on the hill is winterized; trucks are all winterized. The grant area was a big success.  Sienna will be here until the 31st to help finish up. Sienna and Madison Butori will return to work next year.  Sara needs another board member; may have someone that will submit a letter of interest.  Sara would like to do some work with kids at school to get them interested in the program.  Sara is not sure if there would be a grant ready for next year; the tri-county grant with Wibaux and Prairie County’s may possibly start again; there is a lot of work that goes into that, and she is the only full-time coordinator. Sara will have a training for the city crew; also, will have spray days training as well.  Fall Manager training will be held in Havre and will ride with the Ekalaka coordinator.  Discussed being comparable in what we charge for spraying for landowners.  Sara stated if a landowner gets someone else to spray and they have a weed management plan, there is a cost-share program available.  Commissioner Rost discussed the county subsidizing for labor as well as chemical. Discussed Railroad spraying their own right of ways as we have no contacts for the Railroad in our area.   

11:40 AM Sara left the meeting.

          Discussed removing trees-The Commission will contact Bobby Wiedmer, Road Superintendent and ask that the tree be removed.  Commissioner Braun will contact the landowner. 

11:48 AM Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to recess. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.

Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

                    NOON RECESS


PRESENT: Roy Rost, Chairman; Steve Baldwin and Kevin Braun Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



No one appeared for Public Comment

1:30 PM SHOOTING RANGE UPDATES/Jim Leischner, Shooting Range Manager; Shane Bettenhausen, Shooting Match Supervisor

          Shooting sports-The 4H members all resigned so there is no one to help with shooting sports. Discussed volunteers receiving a free membership for volunteering. Training needs to be given before anyone uses the county throwers. Would like to rekey the doors for the shooting range and start with a new log.  Discussed key cards or key fobs rather than keys.  Storage-will budget for a conex container next budget year. Discussed the camera system is up and running and it is recorded.  The trap shoot building also needs to be rekeyed. 

1:45 PM Kodie Olsen, 4H Program Assistant and Amanda Williams, Extension Agent were asked to join.

Kodie received a phone call from Tammy Witcher, relaying a message from David Kono that said they were all done with shooting sports. Members are having issues with other members. Kodie stated the 4H shooting sports starts in 4 weeks so needs to know what options they have.  Kodie is certified in bow but not enough to help teach anyone.  There are no close training areas, and the course is 2 days (1 day online and 1 day in person). Discussed delaying shooting sports or taking a year off or Carter County may come and help.  Someone will try to visit with David to see if anything can be worked out. 

1:57 PM Debbie Wyrick, Deputy Clerk and Recorder joined.

The Commission will make some calls; discussed rekeying all doors. 

2:00 PM Jim, Shane, Kodie and Amanda left the meeting.

2:00 PM CEMETERY BOARD VAULT POLICY/Kirsten Robertson-via phone; Debbie Wyrick

          Vault policy-Discussed the vault policy that has been followed, was thought to have been adopted by the Commission several years ago. It was not a requirement, but when brought to the prior Commission’s attention the minutes indicated they wanted to move forward with the policy. 

         Kirsten discussed disinterring without a vault brings forth issues such as running into another vault, preserves the casket, less soil is required and the clay soil that we have of course brings forth issues of its own. Jon Stevenson, Stevenson’s Funeral Home thought the policy was actually adopted.  Nic Stevenson came in to present it to the Commission several years ago but there was never a resolution adopted. Is this something this Commission still wants to do, and if so, we would need to adopt a resolution. 

2:10 PM Kathy Newell, Board Member joined.

Commissioner Rost is not in favor of this due to the added expense for the people, creates an undue hardship. The cost, if you choose a vault, is $1,885. You would still pay the company to come and lower the casket which is a cost of $1,350. In North Dakota 90% of the cemeteries require vaults. Commission stated Fallon County only maintains the cemeteries and does not own any of them.  The Cemetery Districts were set up to follow the school districts in Fallon County. Debbie stated there will need to be some type of letter drawn up. The Commission will discuss this further.

2:21 PM Kirsten hung up the phone therefore leaving the meeting, Debbie and Kathy left the meeting.


          The employee that had earlier planned to start working at the Fairgrounds in the interim will not be able to do so now. There are several open dates that will need to have someone clean after the events: October 19th, 22nd, 24th and 26th and November 8th and 12th and after the Wild Game Feed on the 20th.  Discussed the list of items left by Shyla that need to be taken care of on a daily and weekly basis.  Debbie reported a terrible smell when she was out there today, smells like natural gas.  Discussed contacting a contractor; Julie recommended the Home Health Aide that may like to pick up some extra hours.  Commission felt that would be a good idea; Julie will ask her.  Discussed who would go out and inspect after events.  Someone needs to go out once per week to flush toilets and drains.  Commissioner Braun will visit with the Fair Board tonight. 

2:30 PM Julie left the meeting.


The Commission reviewed and approved mid-month October 2022 claims in the amount of $145,783.58. They are filed in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

3:12 PM FIRE EXTINGUISHER/Kimberly Jensen, AP Clerk and Tom Bruha, Baker Rural Fire Chief

          Fire Warden Vehicle-Tom stated the vehicle is not used very much and would be a good idea if someone would take it to some trainings and get some miles on it.  Discussed the number of fire extinguishers that need to be replaced and they are indicating some should be placed in cases.  Discussed the insurance company requirements and the brand they plan to replace with is a good brand. Tom stated the bad extinguishers can be disposed of at the Landfill after the pressure has been released. The Fire Department uses their old extinguishers for trainings but does not need any more for trainings.  The Commission granted permission to replace 46 extinguishers and purchase enclosures as noted.  Kimberly will notify the Departments of the purchases and replacements.  They will ship the new ones to a facility and in March of 2023 he will place and tag them. Decision was to have them shipped to the Road Department. The County will dispose of the outdated fire extinguishers. 

3:30 PM Tom and Kimberly left the meeting.


The Commission reviewed revenues received, reports, emails and other correspondence, board minutes and agendas.

Commissioner Braun made the motion to adopt Resolution 1097, Supporting Operation Green Light for Veterans.  Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion. Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

Commissioner Rost signed the FY2023 Area I Agency on Aging Contract #2023-001-05. The purpose of the contract is to assure provision of nutrition services and/or other community-based support services to adults aged 60 and over to assist in meeting their special nutritional and social needs. The contract term is July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023.  The agreement was placed of record in the Clerk and Recorder’s office. 


Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to go into closed session.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays.  The motion carried unanimously.

5:05 PM Commissioner Baldwin made the motion to come out of closed session. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays.  The motion carried unanimously. 

5:10 PM Commissioner Braun made the motion to adjourn.  Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion.  Commissioner Rost asked for any other discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays.  The motion carried unanimously.


                                                                                                                s/Roy Rost, Chairman


s/Brenda J. Wood, Clerk and Recorder