Havre Daily News
Havre City Council member Emily Mayer Lossing has withdrawn her complaint to the Hill County Sheriff's Office against Havre Mayor Bob Rice and has apologized to the mayor.
The complaint alleged that Rice and city crews stole two antique lampposts that were the property of the H. Earl Clack Museum. According to Rice and county museum board chairman Ron VandenBoom, Rice mistakenly believed the museum board had given the city permission to remove the lampposts, which were stored under a caboose behind the Heritage Center.
Mayer Lossing also apologized to VandenBoom.
"With regards to the lampposts, there was a misunderstanding between Mayor Rice and the Clack Museum Board; however, there was also a misunderstanding on my part as well," she wrote in a letter to the editor of the Havre Daily News.
"I thought the right thing was being done, and admit I should have had the wisdom to step back and analyze further. Both Mayor Rice and Ron have graciously accepted my apology, and I thank them for their willingness to do so."
Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera confirmed that Mayer Lossing withdrew her complaint on Wednesday and said his department would no longer be investigating the matter.
Rice said Thursday that Mayer Lossing had called and apologized to him. He said he did not want to comment further on the incident.
"This is my way of trying to make amends; to fix broken fences," Mayer Lossing said in an additional statement she provided to the Havre Daily News. "(Rice) and I have several items in common; we both are busy people with our respective interests, we both work hard to make Havre a better place, and we both have strong personalities. Sometimes when busy, strong personalities don't communicate and our wires get crossed, sparks inevitably will occur."
VandenBoom said Mayer Lossing's apology and the withdrawal of her complaint had effectively brought the situation to a close.
"She said she had tried to do what she thought was the right thing, and apologized for any harm that may have been done to the museum board or the mayor," he said. "I still think it was unfortunate this has all happened."
Mayer Lossing said in her statement that she has offered to assist in restoring the lampposts to usable condition. City crews had sandblasted the historic items and added a coat of primer before returning them to the museum board, but Rice said they are missing some parts.
The misunderstanding about the lampposts arose when VandenBoom told Rice the mayor could do whatever he wanted with items in the Heritage Center that were left behind when the museum moved out of the building in November. The city had evicted the museum and other tenants of the city-owned building after the Clack Foundation turned operation of the building back to the city.
VandenBoom said his comments referred only to items left inside the building. Rice said he thought the agreement included the lampposts, which were stored behind the building.
The museum board met on April 11 and voted to release the lampposts from the museum's collection and have Rice sign a document stating he had taken possession of the property.
Mayer Lossing, who disagreed with the board's vote, filed her complaint on Saturday, saying she was doing so "on behalf of people who genuinely give a damn about our history."
Rice returned the lampposts on Sunday and said they had too many parts missing for the city to use them. He had intended to place them along a walking trail atop Bullhook Dike south of town.
VandenBoom said the lampposts, which were donated by Elinor and the late Louis Clack, will be moved to a different location until the museum board decides what to do with them. He said the board does not have any specific plans for their use as of yet.
"We hope to put them to good use as soon as we can find something appropriate for them," he said.
Mayer Lossing said in her statement that the items still have a use.
"Perhaps some good can come from this," she wrote. "Years from now, hopefully these lampposts will be erected in a place where many can enjoy them in honor of Louis and Elinor Clack, who gave so much for this community."