Tribal Government & News

General Council briefed on 2014 capital improvement projects

03.13.2014 Ron Karten General Council

A new food bank.

A 20-unit apartment complex.

A new lift station on Ackerson Road to decrease Tribal dependence on the local sanitary district and Polk County.

Those are some of the capital improvement projects occurring in 2014 that will improve Tribal members' lives, said Tribal Engineer Jesse White during a presentation at the March 2 General Council meeting held in the Community Center.

White, who was hired by the Tribe in October 2011, briefed the membership on the combined Engineering, Public Works, Wastewater Treatment and Facilities Maintenance Department, which he manages, as well as projects that will make life better for Tribal members in 2014.

The new food bank will have 3,000 square feet of warehouse and distribution area and be located closer to Tribal housing on the Curl Property on the west side of Grand Ronde Road next to the current recycling area.

The current food bank facility near Uyxat Powwow Grounds is "aging dramatically," White said.

"This will be a nice place for distribution of food supplies," White said.

The 20-unit apartment complex will provide housing for low-income Tribal members who might be single and not in need of a larger residence.

It will be constructed on the 31.3-acre trust parcel known as the Smith Tract across the street from the Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority Office.

 And the Ackerson Road wastewater lift station will funnel more wastewater from the Tribal campus into the Tribe's two membrane bio-reactor plants.

"We are working on getting all of our Tribal facilities to be treated by these plants," White said.

During his presentation, White said his department's mission is to improve the quality of life for all Tribal members.

The Public Works Department, headed by John Mercier, has accomplished much in 2013, including installing a new culvert on Yoncalla Creek Road and overseeing the asbestos abatement at the old Willamina Middle School, which is being remodeled into the Tribal museum and cultural center, Chachalu.

In addition, Mercier coordinated the Tribe harvesting cedar trees from Willamette National Forest that were milled into planks that now are the southern exterior siding on Chachalu.

The two wastewater treatment plants, overseen by Lewis Younger, serve Elder housing and Tribal family housing.

"These plants meet all Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Quality regulated water protection requirements," White said. "The good thing about these plants is they treat raw sewage for irrigation re-use, creating a drought-proof supply."

Facilities Maintenance is charged with maintenance of Tribal buildings, keeping the buildings clean and safe and maintaining the Tribal grounds and property, White said. Employees have been instrumental in the recent remodel of the Tribal Council conference room, the Tribal Court remodeling project, installing the house pole in the Governance Center Atrium and helping with development of the new community garden.

Facilities Maintenance also is charged with maintaining the Tribal Cemetery, Uyxat Powwow Grounds and the Natural Resources building off Hebo Road.

White said Engineering, which he is directly involved in, works with many Tribal departments on capital improvement projects. Engineering also works closely with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office to ensure construction projects do not disturb Tribal historical or cultural artifacts.

Engineering has been busy working on the Chachalu remodel and the new women's transition house on Grand Ronde Road that will house eight clients.

White said his department also works closely with the new Tribal Employment Rights Office to ensure Tribal members and Indian-owned businesses work on Tribal capital improvement projects.

He said an Indian-owned business won the contract to remodel the women's transition house and two full-time workers on the project were Tribal members.

White added that TERO will be used on construction of the new apartment complex.

In other action, it was announced that the next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 6, at the Tribal Community Center in Grand Ronde.

Jackie Many Hides, Val Alexander and Chloe Guardiola won the $50 door prizes and Russell Wilkinson won the $100 door prize. Beaded necklaces created by Tribal Council member Jon A. George also were raffled off.

Jan Looking Wolf Reibach, Brian Krehbiel, Bobby Mercier, Jacob Holmes and Kailiyah Krehbiel performed the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting.

Former Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. provided the invocation.