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St. Ignatius council member resigns

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ST. IGNATIUS – One of the seats on the St. Ignatius City Council was empty during the Tuesday, Aug. 6, meeting. Annie Morigeau resigned from her position after she was charged with felony theft and forgery involving the St. Ignatius Fire Department’s auxiliary program.

Annie sent a letter to Mayor Steve McCollum on July 31 to announce her resignation. On July 29, she had been charged with felony theft and forgery and was arrested by law enforcement with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Ignatius Police Department. She pled not guilty in District Court on Aug. 8. 

She was the secretary for the St. Ignatius Firefighters Auxiliary. The charges allege that a total of $59,801 was removed from the auxiliary account for unauthorized charges, including personal grocery store purchases, starting in December of 2016 until May of this year. 

In the resignation letter to the mayor, Annie states: “I need to focus on making amends, my family and school. I understand how disappointed and mad you are at me, and I deserve it. But I’m going to make this right.”

She continues to say that it was an honor to serve on the board. She encouraged the council to keep making Mission a great place to raise children. “Thank you for everything,” she said. 

With Annie’s resignation, there is now a spot open on the board. Members of the public who live within city limits and would like to apply for the position need to send a letter of interest to the council. 

Her husband, Jeremiah Morigeau, was the fire department chief. He also issued a letter of resignation from his position, which was dated July 30. He said he will no longer be with the department. 

During the meeting, the council appointed Assistant Fire Chief Reese Bailey as the new fire department chief until January. Bailey said that he intends to get a full report of the department’s finances so that he can budget for needed items like lights for the fire truck and hose fixtures. 

The council was considering moving funding from the fire department into the general fund to help offset an $18,000 deficit caused by increased expenses for the past year, including police department wages and general administration costs. Bailey said he would like the opportunity to look at the finances before funds are transferred. 

The $18,000 deficit will be covered by the town’s reserve funds. Council members discussed the town’s budget and law enforcement costs. Councilmember Ray Frey said it was important that the town’s departments, including police and fire, stay within the budget. The town currently has two law enforcement officials: Matthew Connelly serves as the chief and Jessie Girsch is an officer.

Girsch was recently sworn in as an officer with the town, but he hasn’t had reserve officer training, so he is often working with the chief. Connelly said that Girsch can legally work alone and make traffic stops, but he can’t make DUI stops. Connelly is working to get Girsch into training this fall. Girsch has had a physical, firearms test and full psychological evaluation, as per law enforcement guidelines. Connelly said that Girsch will call the Montana Highway Patrol for support if he suspects that someone is driving while impaired. The council said that it’s time for the two officers to work separate shifts to give the town around- the-clock coverage and limit overtime work. 

“My biggest concern is that we get Jessie trained,” McCollum said. He added that the police chief is putting in too many hours and needs a break. 

To save the department money, Connelly is doing the work to put a new transmission in the police truck, which will save the town $3,000. He added that the police car is going to need some work in the future. 

Along with a new council member, the town is looking for a new auditor after the former one was unable to continue to fill the position. If anyone is interested in that position, they can drop off a letter of interest to the town hall or send one to P.O. Box 103, St. Ignatius, MT 59865. 

It was also announced that people could pay water and sewer bills online by going to PayGov.US. The town also has a machine in the town hall capable of running credit cards so people can pay in person. 

 

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