It’s time to hunker down and batten down the hatches

Doreen Heintz
Special to the News-Argus
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Now that COVID-19 has been confirmed in Montana, the daily routine of almost every Montanan has changed. Four cases of what is also known as the Coronavirus were found on Friday, March 13.

CMMC in modified lockdown
The following press release was released on Monday morning:
“For the safety and health of our staff and patients, CMMC will be going into a modified lockdown, and all patients will need to use the main clinic entrance with the exception of Durable Medical Equipment and Judith Peak Rehab. We advise patients to show up a little early to their scheduled appointments to allow time for illness screening upon entry. We are still running outpatient appointments as scheduled. We will notify you if this changes or we need to reschedule.
“At this time the cafeteria and Fitness Center are closed to the public. All education and support groups will be suspended at this time. If you need the billing office please call 535-7711 and do not come in to pay your bill.
“If you are experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath, please stay home and drink plenty of fluids. If symptoms worsen, call your provider or the ER before coming in, and as always if you are having a medical emergency dial 911.”

No visitors at Eagles Manor
According to a press release from Dick Brown, chairman of the Lewistown Eagles Manor, no visitors will be allowed for the immediate future.

“This is a preventative measure at this times for the safety and health of our residents. We apologize for any inconvenience to any family members.”

Temporary Court rules
District Judge Jon Oldenburg released the following changes for district court in Lewistown, Stanford and Winnett.
“Those manners that are not required to be heard will be continued.
“Attorneys and self-represented individuals will be encouraged to continue any jury trials or proceed with a bench trial.
“If they request it, any potential juror over the age of 60 or with a chronic health condition will be excused telephonically and will not have to report for service.
“Any potential juror, attorney or member of the public that has traveled to China, South Korea or any European country, or has been exposed to a person diagnosed with the coronavirus in the last 14 days will be excused telephonically and need not appear in person for hearings.
“Potential jurors, attorneys or parties that are visibly ill at the time of the trial or hearing will be immediately excused and the hearing or trial will be continued.
“The Court is limiting in-person hearings where appropriate and will conduct as much business as possible via telephone or video conference.
“Appropriate health warning/instruction signs are in areas jurors, defendants and the public will be frequenting.
“The Court is temporarily restricting access to the courtroom. Only Court staff, defendants, plaintiffs, attorneys and law enforcement will be allowed in the courtroom, thus no gallery.”
Justice of the Peace Kelly Mantooth will be using the same basic rules for his courtroom for Lewistown City Court and Fergus County Justice Court.
In addition, visitation at Montana Department of Corrections’ facilities has been suspended until further notice. Facilities affected by the cancellation include the Montana State Prison, the Montana Women’s Prison and the Pine Hills Correctional Facility. Crossroads Correctional Center at Shelby has also suspended visitation.
The Fergus County Sheriff’s Office is suspending visitation to the detention facility. They also will not be processing fingerprints or concealed weapons permits. All nonessential visits to the Sheriff’s office are suspended.
Although not directly related to COVID-19, but due to a trifecta of unforeseen circumstances, the Juvenile Probation office is currently closed. Starr Brown is available by phone, text or email. Brown’s cell number, for anyone needing it, is (406) 213-8511. The office should reopen by March 23 at the latest.
The Montana Board of Pardons and Parole will conduct all its hearings through video conferencing.

Most social events are cancelled or postponed
In accordance with Governor Bullock’s directive that public events involving over 50 people be postponed in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Lewistown Downtown Association is postponing Dueling Pianos. The event was originally scheduled for Friday, March 20 at The Elks/Pine Meadows.
Dueling Pianos, which is a major fundraiser for the Lewistown Downtown Association, has been rescheduled for Friday, June 5.
Organizers are hopeful that ticket holders will be able to attend the event on Friday, June 5 as their tickets will be honored for the rescheduled date. However, if desired, patrons will be refunded upon return of their March 20 tickets. For ticket refunds and information, please contact Chris Cooler at (406) 538-2200 or
The Central Montana Community Concert Association concert previously scheduled for March 24 has been cancelled. CMCCA is looking to the possibility of rescheduling for a later date. They will update all concert goers at CMCCA’s last concert of the season on May 2.
Community Cupboard making adjustments
According to Russell Epperson, Chair of the Central Montana Community Cupboard, a new policy has been implemented at CMCC. Clients will be served pre-packed boxes of food at the front door of the Cupboard as they wait outside or in their warm vehicles. Clients will receive the same amount of food as before.
“Many of our volunteers are in the at-risk category and are selflessly still serving to the best of their ability,” said Epperson. “We hope this new policy will protect our volunteers and clients through the duration of the coronavirus social distancing measures.
“It is possible and likely we will see more clients than normal during this time,” added Epperson. “If you would like to volunteer or make a financial donation to the Cupboard, it would be appreciated.”
The Community Cupboard is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. They are closing the Thursday night timeslot in order to make better use of volunteers during the day.

Lewistown Public Works adjustments
The Lewistown Public Works Department is suspending all non-essential customer visits to its office located at 308 4th Avenue S. Residents are encouraged to contact Public Works by phone at 535-1770 or by email at
The City of Lewistown is also suspending any repairs or maintenance requiring entrance into any residence or business. The only exemption may be if there is a disruption of an essential service, such as water or sewer.
Public Works is also asking residents to not flush any type of disinfecting or surface wipes, baby wipes, personal hygiene wipes and products, or any other consumer item that is not toilet paper.

FWP changes
According to a FWP press release, Montana WILD closed to the public on Monday, March 16. Fish hatcheries and visitor centers also closed for two weeks beginning Monday. This includes those at Montana State Parks.
However Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ outdoor recreation areas, including fish access sites and state parks, will remain open.
FWP is postponing all hunter and bowhunter education classes that are scheduled through March 30. After that FWP will reassess the situation.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, which was scheduled for March 27, has been postponed. FWP will look at options to reschedule the meeting at a later date.
Other schedulechanges and closings in Lewistown
• The Lewistown Public Library will be closed to the public for the next two weeks.
• ROWL will be closed for any further drop off of plastic by the public until further notice.
• Cheerfest 2020 and its associated College Prep Clinic scheduled for March 20 and 21 has been cancelled. Additionally the showcase planned by the FHS and LJHS cheer teams on March 19 has been cancelled.
• Square dancing is being postponed until further notice.
• Fitness Center owner Jamie Sura announced she is closing the gym until further notice.



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