After having a year off, the 2021 Great Northern Fair in Havre was a big success. It ran from July 14 thru July 18th, 2021. What was going on behind the scenes is another story.
Sivertsen Back In The News
It has been a fast and furious few days involving Mr. Bob Sivertsen. First came accusations of inappropriate and threatening behavior by Sivertsen during pre fair. Next, he stated he received a letter from the County Commissioners asking for his resignation. That was followed by his reply to them which was made public via a letter to the editor in the Havre Daily News.
Sivertsen is well known in and around the Havre area being a long time rancher and a well known local auctioneer. He served in the state Legislature from 1974 to 1982 and was also an inductee into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Some of you may remember Sivertsen’s attempt to spearhead a boycott of Montana Hutterite colonies back in 2019. At one community meeting in Havre, Sivertsen called for talking to Hutterites and helping them “assimilate into our society.” He stated that their “socialist-commune system” shouldn’t compete with area farmers as it “doesn’t fit in our constitutional system.” Of course his attempt was a failure.
More recently: Several employees of the Great Northern Fairgrounds have gone public with accusations of inappropriate and threatening behavior by Fair Board member Bob Sivertsen. Among these accusations is trying to trap employees in a horse stall, damaging county property, and trying to prevent employees from using air conditioning in a county vehicle.
While several have alleged misconduct by Sivertsen, the Great Northern Fairgrounds Secretary, Anita Stevenson may be the most outspoken. She has called Sivertsen’s behavior “unstable and sometimes dangerous.”
Following is an email sent by Stevenson to the fair board on July 9th
Good morning all, I am writing to inform all of you of an unacceptable incident this morning involving myself and Allee (18-year-old Allee Bartlett) with Bob Sivertson. Allee was leaving early today because the stalls were all wet and needed to be cleaned out before 4H starts setup on Sunday. I offered to help her get them done. We got over there and started to clean the stalls when Bob approached us and told us we could not do it how we were doing it, that he had already cleaned the floor. We asked him to please leave us be so we could get it done and in return he closed me in the stall and held it closed to stop me working. This is classified as holding me against my will. I yelled at him to stop and I pushed the stall open again. I once again started to shovel out and he shut and held it again. I knew Frank (fairgrounds manager) was with a customer so I called HR (human resources) and reported the incident. While I was on the phone with Brittney, Bob did the same thing to Allee. Brittney could clearly hear the commotion and asked me what he was doing. She told me to get Frank over there as quickly as I could, which I did. Shortly after Frank arrived Bob left the area. If Bob Sivertson comes anywhere close to me again I will file for a restraining order against him. This is not how we treat people in the workplace. He is clearly overstepping his role as a board member. Thank you; Anita Stevenson
Stevenson clarified: While she was calling HR, she said, she heard screaming from inside the horse barn as Sivertsen had now trapped her co-worker, 18-year-old Allee Bartlett.
She said the incident has made Bartlett feel, understandably unsafe around Sivertsen and now avoids him whenever possible.
Stevenson said while this was probably the most dramatic of Sivertsen’s actions it is far from the only instance of this kind of behavior.
She described another incident that happened just before the 4th of July when workers found the air conditioning in a county vehicle had been disconnected along with a note from Sivertsen warning them not to use the air conditioning.
“That’s vandalism in my opinion,” Stevenson said. “It’s not his property, he had no right.“
She went on to explain that Sivertsen, also made a habit of pouring motor oil in areas on the fair grounds to serve as mosquito repellant.
Stevenson said she is repulsed by the fact that the fair board has done nothing to stop or even reprimand him and that this isn’t the first time concerns about Sivertsen have been brought to members of the board. “Every time something like this is brought up they have another excuse for Bob Sivertsen,” she said. “They just brush it under the rug.“
Stevenson said she isn’t sure what the procedure for removal is for county boards, but the Hill County Commission should be looking into Sivertsen’s fitness to serve on said board.
Shortly after all of that hit the news there was rumbling that Hill County Commission had asked for Sivertsen’s resignation. But did they? The waters get a little murky here at this time because Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson refused to confirm that the commission sent Sivertsen the letter, saying it was a personnel issue, and refused to comment further. But later we learn that the issue is on the agenda for the Hill County Commission business meeting 10 a.m. Thursday July 29th.
Tuesday morning, July 27, there was a letter to the editor in the Havre Daily News. It was a copy of a letter that Sivertsen said he sent o the Hill County commissioners. He believes the allegations are false and is asking for a show cause public hearing where he would have an opportunity to give his side of the story.
Conclusion: Is Bob guilty? Should he resign? Will he be terminated? Those are questions we hope to answer when more information comes available.
UPDATE July 30
On July 29th – Commissioners voted to remove Bob Sivertsen from the Great Northern Fair Board. Sivertsen has not denied the allegations, but says his side of the story vindicates his actions.
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