Posted: Sep 25, 2012 8:11 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Sep 25, 2012 9:51 AM
SIDNEY - It's been almost 10 months since Sidney teacher Sherry Arnold went missing, and reporter Marnee Banks traveled to eastern Montana to see how the community is recovering from the tragic events that unfolded earlier this year.
The Sidney School District has had its fair share of trouble this past year, and superintendent Daniel Farr told us that this year marks a brand new chapter.
"Sherry always loved the beginning of a new year. We're approaching this new year and keeping in the back of our minds that she was an excellent educator and she would always want to do her best for students regardless of their background and academics," Farr explained.
"Ultimately that is what we are trying to do and that's provide students with the best possible education that we can," he added.
Sidney school teacher Sherry Arnold disappeared on January 7th while out for her morning run. Her family, friends, and the entire community spent the next two months looking for clues that would help bring Sherry home.
But at the end of March, investigators found the body of Sherry Arnold just across the border in North Dakota.
"If I tried to do anything during the Sherry Arnold case, and she was a good friend of the family and a friend of mine, was to remain calm and say this was an isolated incident. Yes, crime is up but it's up proportional to the population growth," Sidney Mayor Bret Smelser said.
The oil and gas boom in eastern Montana has attracted workers from all over the country. The wages are good and the jobs are plentiful, and the small rural town of Sidney, Montana is feeling the impacts.
Farr says it's important to make sure the students in the school district know they are safe.
"A lot of what we have tried to do is diminish and not create that kind of bias or prejudice toward a group of people who are coming here, in a lot of cases just because of the economy."
Richland County EMS Director Josh King says he is responding to more medical emergencies than ever before. He interacts with the oil workers on a daily basis and to stereotype them as dangerous would be totally inaccurate.
"I think that most of these people are family oriented people, they are excellent people. I think that the very few bad people that come up with them are giving them the bad name," King told us.
So, now a new school year begins and the town of Sidney is picking up the pieces of a tragedy which shattered their world.
The two suspects Micheal Spell and Lester Waters are in jail, one in Richland County and one in Dawson County. If they are found guilty, they could face life in prison or even the death penalty.