Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Citizen: Ditch old hospital remodel or face legal action

Jim Movius is done trying to give the Stillwater County Commissioners a graceful way out of the old hospital remodeling saga.
Seeking to “bring closure to a fairly contentious conversation,” Jim Movius spoke at Tuesday morning’s regular agenda meeting and gave the commissioners three options:
•Voluntarily abandon the idea of remodeling the old hospital for county office space and in doing so, acknowledge the recorded public input on the matter as being 100 percent against the remodel.
•If unwilling to voluntarily abandon the old hospital remodel, schedule an election to allow a vote on the matter.
•And if unwilling to do either of the above, Movius is prepared to begin collecting signatures on a referendum petition as soon as an expenditure toward a remodel is approved in an effort to force an election.
Movius has done more than just talk. He has hired an attorney — Bruce Fain of Crowley and Fleck in Billings — and presented the commissioners with a formal letter.
Fain has also sent Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde a letter requesting information that she herself has requested from the commissioners, and never received.
And finally, Fain and Movius have filed a referendum petition with the Stillwater County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.
“If you take action toward the remodel, we will begin collecting signatures,” said Movius.
His comments were made during the public comment portion of the meeting. Commissioner Maureen Davey responded by saying they had not received the letter from Movius yet.

The questions that both Fain and Rohde are seeking from the commissioners include the following: Any and all correspondence, memos and emails between the commissioners and Rohde regarding work on the old hospital (particularly during the last three years), any testing date and reports regarding mold, and any and all correspondence regarding the “perceived” lack of obligation, to follow Montana public contract laws, including bidding and bonding requirements.
“If you fail to respond…we will go to court,” said Movius. “The facts will come out, whether we have to pry them out of you.”
Rohde confirmed at the agenda meeting that she had received Fain’s letter and was in the process of reviewing the petition form to see if it complies with state law.

Regarding the referendum, it would require the following:
Prior to the Stillwater County Commissioners soliciting bids, seeking loans, grants or bonds for the remodeling or refurbishing of the old hospital or for roofing work, including patch work, the commissioners submit the matter to the electors of Stillwater County. The referendum does not require voter approval for the remediation or abatement of asbestos, which has been discovered on the property and is already being remediated, or the demolition of the old hospital.