Tribal Government & News

Tribal construction projects underway, nearing completion

01.31.2024 Sherron Lumley Economic development
Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy, left, speaks during the open house and blessing for Creekside Elder Housing on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Standing with Kennedy are Tribal Council member Denise Harvey, second from left, Tribal Council Secretary Michael Cherry, third from left, and Tribal Council member Brenda Tuomi. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)


By Sherron Lumley

Smoke Signals staff writer

Several construction projects that will serve Tribal members are underway or nearing completion in Grand Ronde, from a modern health care clinic with a community kitchen and fish pit to solar-powered Elder housing and a new child development center.

 “The visions that we put down on paper are now being realized,” Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said during a December Facebook Live meeting. “We can welcome home our members.”

On a rainy January morning, Tribal Engineering and Planning Manager Ryan Webb walked through the new health care and vaccination clinic, located near the Tribal campus entrance.

“Seeing each project come to life and then ultimately be used to provide a service to the membership is so rewarding,” Webb said.

He discussed several of the Tribe’s current projects, noting its success in securing federal and other grant funding to partially finance every project, up to 100 percent of the cost in some cases.

His team in Public Works includes Grant Program Manager Wendy Sparks, Grant Writer Stevie Geopfert and Grants Assistant Dana Morfin. 

Health care and vaccination clinic: Located next to the Tribe’s Health & Wellness Center, construction is expected to be complete by early February on the $7.1 million project.

Funding includes $2.2 million from Indian Health Service, $1.75 million from the Indian Community Development Block Grant, $100,000 from Spirit Mountain Community Fund, $50,000 from Yamhill Community Care and $3 million from clinic revenues.

During a recent site visit, Webb pointed out architectural features such as indoor fir beams combined with exterior cedar salvaged from the 2020 Detroit Lake wildfire.

The 8,400-square-foot interior includes a reception area with vaulted ceiling and children’s play area, spacious medical and dental exam rooms, high-tech labs, a break room and administrative offices.

Copper acorns catch rainwater as salmon stamped in the concrete appear to swim toward the 800-square-foot concrete patio and a covered, 700-square-foot fish pit area.

A community kitchen is set up to accommodate streaming nutrition classes with offsite Tribal members.

The Tribe hired contractor Triplett Wellman Inc. of Woodburn for this contract.

The health care and vaccination clinic is under construction on the Tribal campus and is expected to be complete by early February. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

Child development center: Construction began in December 2023 and is expected to take a year.

Tribal Council approved contractor Triplett Wellman Inc. to construct the 26,000-square-foot child development center next to the gym on the Tribal campus.

Tribal funding of $6.5 million combined with $6.5 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, $2 million from nonprofits and $1 million in federal grants will finance the project.

The one-story building will have 12 classrooms, 16 administrative offices, a commercial kitchen, large community room, outdoor play areas, break room, restrooms and support areas.

Creekside Elder Housing: These newly constructed Tribal Elder housing units are located at Grand Ronde Road and Creekside Drive, behind existing Elder housing. Twelve duplexes (two housing units each) are fitted with solar energy panels and battery backup storage.

Eighteen of the units are market rate and six will be subsidized.

The $7.19 million project was funded with 80 percent Tribal dollars and 20 percent federal grant funds.

A grand opening for the project was held on Wednesday, Jan. 24. See the sidebar for a related story.

Wind River Apartments, phase three: The design phase is scheduled to be finished this summer with construction to begin soon after. There will be up to 45 units which are a mix of one- and two-bedrooms within 10 apartment buildings.

“The design and construction cost is estimated to be around $12.5 million, currently all Tribal funds, however we will be applying for grants to help with the cost of this project,” Webb said.

Located adjacent to the Tribe’s Housing Department offices at 28450 Tyee Road, the solar-ready designs provide the option to add solar panels with Energy Trust of Oregon.

Electric vehicle charging stations: Electric vehicle chargers will be added to campus this year thanks to a $700,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Carbon Reduction Program.

The grant also funds the purchase of a few new EV fleet vehicles for Tribal employees to use.

There is already one charging station located at the Tribal Governance Center parking lot.

Grand Ronde Fire Station expansion: The 20,000-square-foot expansion includes office and classroom space, living quarters, and four fire engine and equipment bays.

The $8 million American Rescue Plan Act funded project has an expected completion date of spring 2024.

Homeownership development phase one: The project is located at McPherson Road east of Grand Ronde Road, with all 20 homes potentially ready for occupancy by March. Some units are already complete.

Home sizes range from three- to four-bedroom and 1,200- to 2,000-square-feet on 10,000-square-foot lots. Each unit is solar-ready.

The project is funded by federal sources and Spirit Mountain Casino revenues.

Phase one infrastructure and utilities funding includes close to $2 million in federal and $500,000 in Tribal funding. Phase one home construction funding comes from a $1.5 million state grant and Tribal funding of close to $6.9 million.

“The Tribe will be reimbursed on this funding when it sells the homes,” Webb said.

Multi-use path from Grand Ronde to Spirit Mountain Casino:

The Tribe received a $206,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Community Paths Program for a feasibility study for a pedestrian/bike connection between Grand Ronde Road and Spirit Mountain Casino.

Bruce Paulson, a finish carpenter with Kriegsco Manufacturing, Inc., trims a vent cover on Thursday, Jan. 4, that will be used in the lab of the health care and vaccination clinic under construction on the Tribal campus. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

Resident recreation center: Design is underway for a new 20,000-square-foot building across from Tribal Housing Department offices using $1 million in Indian Health Plan funding.

Community input meetings are coming in the near future and construction will begin once the design phase is complete.

tumwata village: The Tribe purchased the former Blue Heron Paper Mill in Oregon City, a 23-acre property located by Willamette Falls, in 2019 for $15.25 million.

 The property is undergoing cleanup that has included the removal of 24 structures so far. The next phase of demolition will include the administration building at the entrance to the site, pending demolition permits from Oregon City.

Road construction improvements are set to begin this year, Webb said.

Thus far, the project was awarded an $800,000 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Grant and $2 million from Congress, earmarked for the first block of development: Water Avenue, Fourth Street and Main Street.

The Tribe has a work plan formed with the EPA and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Construction is due to start this summer.

“For the EPA Brownfield Grant, we will continue to complete environmental remediation tasks under our work plan with EPA and Oregon DEQ,” Webb said. “This work will likely include continued subsurface investigation work as well as removal of (contamination) from underlying soils. For the congressional funding grant, we are currently designing the infrastructure and utilities for phase one of site redevelopment work.”  

Language education building: The $3.95 million, 6,600-square-foot building has six classrooms with doors that open to nature, office space, a break room, restrooms and an outdoor play area.

It is located behind the existing Education Department complex on the Tribal campus and was paid for through a combination of Tribal, federal and grant funding.

The chinuk wawa skul opened in the fall while the building was receiving a few finishing touches. Construction is now complete and students ages 3 to 11 attend language immersion classes. Parent and community language classes will be explored in 2024.