A fresh start

A new year, a new commission, and a new approach to county business
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stillwater County Commissioner Mark Crago

Stillwater County Commissioner Dennis Shupak

Stillwater County Commissioner Tyrel Hamilton

With the new year came a new look for the Stillwater County Board of Commissioners.

Tyrel Hamilton served in his first meeting as a commissioner on Tuesday, filling the seat vacated by the retirement of long-time Commissioner Maureen Davey.

Mark Crago was voted to fulfill the duties of the presiding officer (chair) of the board, a position held by Commissioner Dennis Shupak last year.

Along with the new look, comes a new approach to meetings to ensure the commissioners are in touch with the people they serve.

Most of the commissioners’ agenda meetings will still be held on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. in the county courthouse’s first floor meeting room in Columbus, as has been the case in previous years. During the spring and summer months, though, a new approach will be taken.

From March through October, the agenda meeting scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month will take place at 6:30 p.m. in a different town around the county. The months have been scheduled in the following manner: March – Park City Civic Center; April – Stockman Café in Rapelje; May – Reed Point Firehall; June – Fishtail Community Center; July – county courthouse in Columbus; August – Nye Firehall; September – Cobblestone School in Absarokee; October – Molt Firehall.

Crago said there has been a need for the commissioners to “get out into communities.”

Hamilton added that as he was campaigning for the commissioner position, he was told by many people that Tuesday mornings are not the best time to hold meetings. The new commissioner noted that it is easier for the three commissioners to move around to different communities than for a large group of citizens to travel to Columbus.

In addition to the monthly roaming agenda meeting, the commissioners are implementing a two-hour period of time each week for community “walk-ins.”

Before, all members of the community who wished to meet with the commissioners had to schedule an appointment first. During this walk-in period, anyone who wishes can meet with the commissioners without making arrangements ahead of time.

All walk-in meetings will be recorded and filed like every other public meeting. The day of each week’s walk-in period will vary, depending on the timing of the commissioners’ other scheduled meetings.

According to Crago, these walk-in hours have been implemented to “try to make the door even more open” and get more people involved with the process of county governance.

Public notice of the commissioners’ meetings will be posted on the bulletin boards on the first floor of the courthouse near the doors and on the second floor of the courthouse near the finance office.

SCN posts the commissioners’ agenda meeting and discussion meeting schedules on its Facebook page each Monday morning.

The following business was also conducted at this week’s regularly scheduled Stillwater County Commissioners’ agenda meeting:


As a part of the house keeping that comes with the start of a new year, the commissioners were assigned to work as liaisons on different county boards.

Crago was assigned to the following boards: Absarokee Sewer RSID 5+7, City-County Airport Board, Facilities/ Fairgrounds, LEPC E-9-1-1, Local Mental Health Board, Regional Mental Health Board, Safety Committee, and the Weed Management Board.

Hamilton will serve on the Board of Health, Alternatives, Beartooth RC&D, Drought Committee, DUI Task Force, Health Insurance Committee, Information Technology, and Investment Committee. The last two listed are currently inactive boards.

Shupak will be a liaison to the following boards: Area II Agency on Aging, Billings Area Fire Group, Custer Gallatin Working Group, District 7 HRDC, Fire Council, Solid Waste, Library Board, and the Local 3877 Arbitration Board.

There are currently vacancies on the following boards: City-County Planning Board, Compensation Board, Tax Appeal Board, Library Board, and the City-County Airport Board. Those interested can find a board application form on the county’s website.


Pattern Energy has donated $75,000 to the county to be used “for the express purpose of enhancing and expanding the resources and capabilities of the county’s 4-H agricultural facilities.”

Commissioner Mark Crago thanked Pattern “for their belief in Stillwater County and the 4-H youth.”

Pattern Energy’s Stillwater Wind project located north of Reed Point has been completed.


Terry Nystul was recognized for his work as a citizen coroner for the county over the last 11 years. He is retiring from the position.


The county will be conducting mid-year budget reviews with all of the departments from Monday, Jan. 14, through Thursday, Jan. 24. Each department will receive a scheduled time to meet with the commissioners.

These meetings are open to the public. To see the schedule of the budget reviews, check the commissioners’ weekly discussion agenda on the county website.


Approval was given to increase the county’s matching funds for the Area II Agency on Aging to $12,703. This amount is $463 more than last year’s matching fund total.


Claims in the amount of $393,625.57 were approved.