Port Authority interviews business law firm

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Two attorneys with a Great Falls law firm experienced in complex transactions interviewed June 25 with the Lincoln County Port Authority board, as it seeks legal counsel to help develop the 400-acre site.

“None of us (board members) are experts,” County Commissioner and board chair Jerry Bennett told The Western News Monday. “We don’t want to make a misstep.”

Bennett was referring to the complexities of developing the Port Authority site, which is contained within two Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites.

Brion Lindseth and Jennifer Bishop of KLB Business Law, meeting that day with the board and Port Authority staff, inquired about the site’s history, the issues it faces and how the EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality factor into its development and maintenance.

When reached Friday by email, Bishop said the firm “will not be able to comment directly on the Port Authority at this time,” citing attorney-client confidentiality and privilege.

Bishop did explain that KLB Business Law handles “complex transactional matters, including transactions for private business clients such as developers, as well as environmental matters under state and federal law.”

Tina Oliphant, the Port Authority’s executive director, said Monday by email that KLB Business Law was the second firm interviewed.

“The first was very qualified, but unavailable to commit the time,” she wrote.

Because the Port Authority is seeking legal services, it doesn’t require a bidding process. Oliphant wrote that as of Monday morning, KLB Business Law had not submitted a letter of engagement.

Bennett said the board may or may not interview other firms.

In addition to Bennett, the Port Authority board is comprised of the other two county commissioners — Mark Peck and Mike Cole — and county residents Ted Werner and Tony Petrusha.

The five-person board took over management of the Port Authority Jan. 24, replacing a nine-member board as part of a restructuring effort.

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