Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council OKs grant application to fund firefighting equipment purchase


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Tribal Council approved a $213,095 grant application to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during its Wednesday, Feb. 10, meeting to purchase 25 self-contained breathing apparatus for the eventual Tribal takeover of the fire station on Grand Ronde Road.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will be responsible for fire and emergency medical response in the community by 2025, according to a five-year transition plan approved by Tribal Council in July 2020.

Fire suppression and emergency medical response responsibilities for the community are currently supplied by the West Valley Fire District in Willamina.

As early as December 2019, the Tribe expressed its desire to add fire to its growing list of sovereign nation public safety responsibilities that currently include operating its own police department and emergency management office.

Tribal Council approved an authorization to proceed that instructed General Manager David Fullerton to renegotiate a memorandum of understanding with the West Valley Fire District to include a “comprehensive transition plan” for the Grand Ronde Tribe to assume operations of the fire station at Grand Ronde and McPherson roads.

Fullerton also was directed to oversee the transition plan and re-organize the Emergency Management Program now located at the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department to assume fire station operations.

The Tribe and West Valley Fire District signed an intergovernmental agreement in July 2009 to build and operate the fire station in Grand Ronde. The $1 million fire station opened in June 2010, substantially reducing response times for fire and medical emergencies in the Grand Ronde area.

The Tribe has already applied for several federal grants that would help purchase firefighting equipment and an ambulance for the local fire station.

The latest grant application seeks funding for 25 self-contained breathing apparatus. Planning and Grants Manager Kim Rogers said during the Tuesday, Feb. 9, Legislative Action Committee meeting that the fire station currently has breathing apparatus, but they are reaching their end of use.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Sent an amendment to the Burial Fund Ordinance that would increase the benefit from $6,000 to $7,000 out for a first reading. It will allow Tribal members 30 days to comment on the proposed amendment before it returns to Tribal Council for final adoption;
  • Approved the enrollment of one infant into the Tribe because he or she meets the requirements outlined in the Enrollment Ordinance and Tribal Constitution;
  • Approved a change in the list of Tribal managers overseeing the 401(k) plan for employees. The move drops the Economic Development director and Tribal convenience store general manager from the list of directors on the Plan Administrative Committee, which now consists of the Tribe’s general manager, finance officer and Human Resources director and Spirit Mountain Casino’s general manager and finance director;
  • Approved a resolution of support for the Riverwalk project in Oregon City. The Willamette Falls Legacy Project endeavor will eventually connect the historic downtown area with Willamette Falls and requires Tribal support because it purchased the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site along the Willamette River in August 2019;
  • And approved a new five-year Conservation Stewardship Program contract for three of the Tribe’s conservation properties: the 426-acre Chankawan and the 461-acre Chahalpam properties in Marion County and the 667.5-acre Noble Oaks property in Polk County. The agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will fund habitat enhancement work on 42 acres split among the three properties and the Tribe could receive a maximum of $70,000 to fund that work.

Also included in the Feb. 10 Tribal Council packet were approved authorizations to proceed that OK’d a 2 percent cost-of-living increase to Elders pension payments and formally established June 19, known as Juneteenth, as an official Tribal holiday and incorporates it into the Personnel Management Ordinance.

To watch the entire meeting, visit the Tribal government’s website at and click on the Government tab and then Videos.