Red Lodge Police Chief Richard Pringle doesn’t foresee any problems at this year’s 19th Annual Beartooth Rally but is adopting a ‘wait and see’ stance with only one street closure for dancing at 13th Street East between the Snow Creek and the Blue.
Although people won’t be as spread out with two dances, Pringle is “not expecting any big problems.” “We will have the same amount of law enforcement to cover the event,” he said. Just recently the Red Lodge City Council voted to impose a $1,000 Impact Fee on street dances during the Rally in an attempt to offset extra policing costs. No other event in Red Lodge requires this much policing and will not be subject to the fee. Mayor Brian Roat said that the City has been using the General Fund and people have been “upset” with this.
“We have to recover costs and this is an effort to do so," said Roat. Roat recalled bar owners giving the City various amounts of money, sometimes $1,200, to cover the policing “but that doesn’t happen now,” he said. Hence, he added, the institutionalizing of the Impact Fee. The City does get some money from renting out the campground and vendors paying fee and resort tax during the Rally. The specialized Safety Enforcement Traffic Team (SETT) of the Montana Highway Patrol will be heavily present at this year’s events deploying saturation patrols to increase safety on all the roads in and around Red Lodge. In addition, the Highway Patrol is appealing to the public to do their part for safety. Anyone observing a driver who appears to be impaired should call 9-1-1 or 1-855- MHP- 3777 right away.
“Events over the weekend include a ride over the scenic Beartooth Pass and a poker run, along with the Iron Horse Rodeo. We want everyone to enjoy these great activities, but we need your help to keep our roads safe. Think of your family and friends before you start drinking,” said Sgt. Derek Brown with the Montana Highway Patrol. “Drinking and riding your motorcycle is never a good idea. Whether you are in charge of two wheels or four wheels, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by choosing not to drive impaired.” Federal grant monies administered by the Montana Department of Transportation fund the Safety Enforcement Traffic Team (SETT).
“You will see us making a lot of traffic stops,” said Sgt. Brown. “Our job is to protect travelers and make sure the roads are safe from dangerous drivers. If there are those who choose to ignore our community’s safety and drive or ride impaired, it is our responsibility to stop and arrest them before they hurt or kill themselves or someone else. Remember to buckle up, don’t drive distracted and obey all traffic laws.”