Sheriff’s Office to Hold Community Meetings

Sheriff will visit Kila, Lakeside, Bigfork and Columbia Falls in coming weeks

By Justin Franz
Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino. Beacon file photo

Four months after taking office, Flathead County’s new sheriff will be hosting a series of community meetings in late April and early May to update the public on some major projects and get feedback on how the office can better serve.

Sheriff Brian Heino and Undersheriff Wayne DuBois will host five different meetings around the valley. They will be at Kila School on April 15; Lakeside Elementary School on April 17; Flathead Electric Cooperative in Evergreen on April 23; Bigfork High School on May 2; and Columbia Falls High School on May 3. Each meeting will start at 6 p.m. and last about an hour.

The meetings will address a number of ongoing projects, including the new K9 program, the efforts to hire school resource officers and the establishment of a citizen advisory board.

“We want to get into the communities and let people know what’s going on, and we want to hear about what people are seeing out there,” Heino said.

One of the biggest projects currently underway is the effort to place school resource officers at Bigfork High School and Evergreen Junior High School. The new positions will be funded in part by a grant from Flathead Electric Cooperative, which has agreed to cover half the costs of the program for five years.

The Flathead Electric grant is funded by unclaimed capital credits. The nonprofit always tries to track down members who have moved or stopped using the service to give them their dividend, but state law allows those funds to be reinvested in an electrical cooperative’s service area after they have gone unclaimed for five years. Flathead Electric is also helping fund a school resource officer in Libby.

According to Heino, the schools have agreed to contribute a combined $30,000 annually for the program. The rest, about $50,000 annually, will have to come from the county. Heino said he plans on going to the commission with the request for funding in the coming weeks.

Heino also wants to talk about the jail, which a few years ago was busting at the seams and many said needed to be replaced. Following a remodel and expansion of the jail, the issue of crowding has gone to the back burner, but Heino said it wouldn’t stay there forever.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.