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Three vie for City Council Ward 1
Ken Gardner is interested in representing Ward I on the Miles City Council because “I believe that through my life experiences I can bring a unique perspective in helping to find solutions to the city’s ongoing fiscal concerns. I believe a local government needs to be transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible,” he wrote in a questionnaire given to the candidates.
After graduating from Terry High School, Gardner attended Miles Community College and the University of Hawaii before earning a bachelor’s degree with a major in Earth Science from the University of Montana in Missoula.
He worked for the United States Geological Survey in Denver, then went into business for himself as owner of Petro Graphic Services in Englewood, Colo.
Gardner worked as a counselor at Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility from 1991-98, then lived in Minneapolis, Minn., for five years as a director of quality control at Dural Manufacturing.
He returned to Pine Hills to work as a social worker and retired in 2011.
This is the first time he has run for office.
“I am motivated by my belief in God, family and freedom to make personal choices,” he wrote.
“I have always maintained respect for others as well as their opinion even if it is different than my own. This is important when compromise is required when dealing with problems. I have been effective when interacting with groups of individuals, agendas and differences of opinions.
“My past employment history required my participation in fiscal responsibilities, professionalism and working towards the best long-term solutions.”
Gardner is concerned about the needs of the large number of senior citizens in the community.
While campaigning, he said it became obvious that the issue of increasing flood insurance and the impact on home values is a big concern of the people’s, as well as his own.
He feels taking pro-active steps to deal with the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 would be of major importance.
He wrote that 84 percent of Miles City residences are either in the flood way or flood plain and are adversely affected by the reform act. Dike options and costs, at this time, are unknown, so the city will have to wait for the results of the (KLJ) engineering feasibility study. In his view, paying for a certified dike will be far less expensive than projected increases in flood insurance.
Other pressing issues he is concerned about are:
• The city infrastructure, including sewer and water lines, continued work on updating the water treatment plant, as well as the pending Tatro Street project;
• Ongoing fiscal challenges of services to the city as well as the impact of gas and oil production within the state;
• Equal city services for the people of Ward 1;
• The start and completion of a new jail facility.
William “Bill” Melnik has been serving on the Miles City Council for about 20 years and is once again running for re-election because he is interested in helping Ward I and the other wards to make Miles City a place people want to move to work or start a business.
Born in Roundup, Melnik came to Miles City to work at Pine Hills School as the principal of the education department of the school. He has lived in Miles City for 39 years.
He graduated from Northern Montana College with a bachelor’s in education and a master’s degree in Department of Corrections education and school administration.
Melnik is currently on the council’s Finance Committee and Human Resource Committee but has served on all the committees at one time or another.
He also is on the Miles City Area Economic Development Council, the Southeastern Montana Development Corporation board and the local landfill board.
He plans to continue working on economic development for the benefit of Miles City.
The most pressing issues facing Miles City, according to Melnik, are the redevelopment of the downtown business district, flood control and water and sewer projects.
For the downtown area, economic development is looking for federal money to invest in its development.
Melnik would also like to draw more travelers into the west-end entrance to get them downtown.
He said the flood control problem is “a tough deal.”
He said the city needs to take care of the dike and that “we can take care of the dike ourselves.”
One of the things needed is to remove the trees growing in the dike.
A problem is that some of the local people don’t want the dike touched.
The city is on phase two (of four phases) of upgrading the waste water treatment plant. The Economic Development Council is working to get the $8 million for phase two from the federal government.
Melnik said the council is “a godsend” for Miles City.
Michelle Simpson believes she can make a difference and be a strong voice in Ward 1, so she is running for the Miles City Council seat.
Simpson was born on the West Coast and was in the military with her husband. They moved to Miles City 41 years ago and have been at their current address for 38 years.
She believes “Ward 1 has been without a voice for an extended period of time, therefore I believe I can make a difference with the many changes coming to Miles City.”
She has sat on the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce for six years, the chamber’s executive board for six years and was the past president of the chamber.
She began her career in the lodging industries and has worked as manager and area manager, covering three states and five properties, which included all aspects of management (payroll, taxes, budgets and all aspects of employer/employee relations, not only onsite but with the head office).
She has operated in the motel’s day-to-day business, reviewing the books and providing accounting.
Also, she is a business partner in Simpson’s Honey Farms.
She hopes to accomplish getting the repairs on the dike done to lower flood insurance costs, cleaning up and beautifying Miles City, revitalizing Main Street, enhancing economic development and getting street repairs done.
The dike has been an issue the entire time she has lived in Miles City.
“Now is the time to resolve this issue and repair the dike,” she wrote. “Flood insurance is at an extreme which could cost some home owners as much as $750 per month and is due to rise another 20 percent each year. I am very concerned about property values on the north side.”
“I am concerned for the residents of the city who are on a fixed income and families that are on a limited income; how will they be able to continue with the rise of rent and taxes?” Simpson wrote. “I heard multiple times while I was campaigning, ‘one more tax and I am out of my house.’ This is unacceptable for the citizens of Ward 1 as well as the citizens of MIles City.”