DUI Task Force scholarships awarded

After 20 minutes of reading the scholarship applications, Jeff Crews, Alberton School Superintendent, looked up at the committee and said, “This is going to be impossible. All of these are exceptional and deserving of the award.”

Crews and other members of the Mineral County DUI Task Force were reading applications from seniors of the three schools in the county deciding on which one from each school would be the recipient of the $500 scholarship.

Ernie Ornelas, Task Force Coordinator, said that as long as he has been doing this, he has never read such competitive applications. Stephanie Quick, Secretary, Laurie Johnston, County Commissioner and task force member along with County Attorney Ellen Donahue nodded in agreement. How was this going to be handled?

The DUI Task Force is comprised of a broad spectrum of residents who work with law enforcement, schools and other organizations in curtailing impaired driving. Compliance checks for underage alcohol sales is conducted at grocery stores and bars along I-90 using a company approved by the state and headquartered in Havre. They bring their own experienced underage actors along with one or two supervisors so they will not be recognizable to clerks.

The funding for these checks and awareness events along with specialty items reminding all ages to “Drive Sober” is through fines and restitution that impaired drivers face when convicted. DUI originally was Driving Under the Influence, but that acronym now encompasses alcohol and drugs, both prescription and illegal, along with marijuana since the first of the year.

Ornelas emailed the scholarship applicants the following notice:

This year, the Task Force received two applications from each of the three high schools. During the Quarterly DUI Task Force meeting the members reviewed all the applications to score and select a winner from each school. And to be very frank, the competition this year was unlike any previous year, and was extremely rigorous. Every student scored exceptionally well in all the categories, so much so, that all six were nearly undistinguishable. The ability to select a single winner from each school proved exceedingly problematic. The (task force) members solidly agreed that all applicants were equally worthy of the scholarship. To address the conundrum, the Task Force members present voted, unanimously, to award a $500 Scholarship to each student. The situation has not occurred since the inception of the Mineral County DUI Task Force Scholarship Award and is singularly unique. The DUI Task Force wishes to congratulate all six of you for your $500 Award! From St. Regis High School: Baylee Pruitt and Carter Jasper. From Superior High School: Sorren Reese and Cassie Green. From Alberton High School: Zoey Zimmerman and Silas Acker.

In prior years, the scholarship applicants were impressive and difficult to decide upon the first-place winner. But this year, the high school seniors in Mineral County knocked it outta the park with their essays (which was 50 points) along with their academic and achievement awards (25 points) and extracurricular activities and experiences (25 points). All 6 contestants were within 1 point of each other so the decision was made, and everyone would be able to sleep that night.


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