A Year-End Breakdown of Allocated CARES Act Funds
Updated: Jan 12
By Lorene "Booki" Wielgot
CARES Act Asst. Coordinator
A summary of $16,718,860 CARES Act Funding Distibution.
Daycare Facility: $3,465,383.56
In short supply sans COVID-19, local child care resources became nonexistent when mandatory shutdowns occurred in Wisconsin. Essential Workers were left without resources as local centers were shuttered and schools were closed. The State of Wisconsin created a task force to meet the need for emergency child care centers for its essential workers, deemed critical to efforts at flattening the curve. Likewise, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board needed to address the need for child care services by constructing its own 11,936 SF child care facility to serve approximately 200 children of tribal essential workers in healthcare, public safety, domestic shelters, government services, communications and IT, financial sector, water & wastewater management, solid waste management, Food Commodities and other employees that provide essential services for families.
New Fire Station and EMS supplies: $1,774,232.49
The current fire hall is located in the parking lot of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School, directly across from the school bus parking. When school is in session, it is hazardous for the first responders and fire fighters to act quickly and safely because of the possible injury to students and visitors. At times, the exit doorways of the Fire Station are blocked by parked vehicles and fire trucks and first responders are unable to leave until an owner is located. The Fire Hall needs to be reconstructed at a more accessible location. The old Fire Hall can then be repurposed for additional classroom space, allowing for increased physical distancing of students.
WOJB tower & transmission repairs and broadcast supplies: $235,029.93
The WOJB radio station serves as our emergency broadcast system to transmit vital information to people who need it most. To implement the Tribe’s Public Health Emergency Plan for Communication of pandemic related prevention and preparation information, announcements must be widespread and provided to the membership on a timely basis. We also receive and distribute information from medical institutions, social programs and government agencies on services available to the general public. The Reservation has 76,000 sq. miles, 15 miles wide and is deeply forested. The WOJB radio station is the most reliable source of information – especially the dead zones in the community, -- places where cell phone and internet coverage doesn’t exist. However, communication is diminished by damaged transmission equipment and inadequate supplies. Funds are allocated to build capacity of the radio station to broadcast critical information.
Tribal Government and Critical Infrastructure: Government Center Expansion, Equipment and supplies: $1,677,610.90
The Tribal Government increased its capacity for pandemic response and preparedness by hiring additional staff to develop plans, identify resources and distribute benefits. However, inadequate space is the Tribe’s biggest barrier to expansion of personnel and services. With reduced family income, significant pressure was placed upon public employees to respond to the basic needs of children and families related to economic support, food, clothing, shelter, and child welfare. The Tribal Court increased its caseload by protecting communities through legal orders and enforcement of those orders. Space is needed to accommodate the increased services to respond to the effects of the pandemic on families and individuals.
Functioning infrastructure is critical during a state of emergency and mandated closures. The Tribal Public Works Department and LCO Development Corp. manage roads, water, sewer, and buildings. The Tribe could not implement its Cares Act Spending Plan in a timely manner without these agencies to perform a variety of essential services for the reservation community, including maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, working construction, and performing operational functions. New equipment is needed by these agencies in order to adequately and efficiently undertake their responsibilities.
Tribal Police: $886,109.94, and
LCO Conservation Departments: $125,861.00
We need to build capacity of our law enforcements agencies to ensure that CDC/tribal restrictions, mask requirements, quarantine restrictions and other health mandates are enforced. Essential Tribal Law Enforcement agencies include the Tribal Police and Conservation Wardens who enforce ordinances and public health mandates of the Tribe. All are responsible for working with government and public health officials to contain the spread, serve the local community, and maintain public order. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made numerous recommendations to protect Law enforcement officers because they are at a higher risk of exposure due to their close contact with members of the public. To comply with specific CDC cleaning instructions to prevent COVID-19 spread, the Departments need an adequate supply of duty and protective gear worn by officers especially when enforcing a public health order from the Tribal Public Health Officer that requires officers to force the isolation of a positive case. The older law enforcement vehicles have many miles and are increasingly in the shop for maintenance. Lack of an adequate number of vehicles prevent adequate, timely response by officers.
Pineview Funeral Services and Big Drum Building: $85,418.63
Mindful that Native Americans suffer higher rates of disease and ailments including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the community has a higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications. Funeral home services are at minimum capacity in northern Wisconsin. Although funeral homes do share resources, facilities are ill-prepared for the potential increase in fatalities due to COVID-19 complications. Funds are necessary for building improvements and supplies for Pineview and Big Drum Traditional Services.
Quarantine Services: $1,417,129.28
The CDC recommends that quarantine be used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others to slow the transmission and decrease spread of the disease. Physical distance of household members is almost impossible at Lac Courte Oreilles where the housing shortage is critical. Households are doubled & tripled up; teachers and other professionals have no place to live. The 2017 national report “Housing Needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Tribal Areas” reported that overcrowding affected 16 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native households in tribal areas. The Lac Courte Oreilles survey indicated that nearly one-third (32.2%) of tribal homes were doubled up or more – twice the national native. Population growth has significantly outpaced housing supply. Over the past ten years, the population growth (12%) was four times greater than the growth in available housing (2.9%). The growth in housing stock has been stagnant for ten years and the surrounding housing market cannot meet demand.
It is critical to the well-being of the community that members who test positive for the virus be distanced from others in their household. The quarantine options undertaken by the Tribe on a short-term basis are: (1) renovate several vacant homes; (2) purchase a vacant building to serve as a quarantine shelter; (3) purchase two trespass houses; and (4) purchase 6 modular units to accommodate affected persons. The modular units require site preparation, utilities, and - once delivered - steps, winterization and interior furnishings. The quarantine units also require property maintenance and significant upkeep for frequent tenant turnover.
Homeless Shelters and Food Supplies: $50,808.64
As previously discussed, physical distance of household members is almost impossible at Lac Courte Oreilles where the housing shortage is critical. The homeless population at Lac Courte Oreilles doesn't look like inner city homelessness. The Lac Courte Oreilles Housing Survey of 2018 found that the reservation homeless are "couch surfers" who frequently move from place to place by hitching rides. This situation is prime for spread of COVID-19, and efforts will be taken to mitigate the situation by improving shelter and reliable transportation for this population group.
Youth Services: $215,729.84
Youth Serving organizations (including the LCO School, the Boys & Girls Club, Waadookodaading and Youth Sports teams) struggle to provide activities for young people that comply with CDC safety mandates. Funding support is provided to enable, to the greatest extent possible, physical distancing through outdoor activities and additional classroom space as necessary for young people of Lac Courte Oreilles.
Member Support: $6,472,367.90
The Lac Courte Oreilles reservation is a severely distressed, underserved community that suffers from persistent poverty, high levels of unemployment and low-income levels. For families living paycheck to paycheck, the pandemic has affected the reservation disproportionately as families endeavor to support themselves and each other. As they transition to online working and online learning, resources are diminished and the Tribe is unable to respond to the many requests for assistance with housing, education, water, electricity, heating, food, internet access for school, telework and basic necessities. Thus, the Tribe has established funds to reimburse members for the additional pandemic related expenses. $1,000 payments are made to all enrolled adult members of the Band and $500 per member child under the age of 18. In addition, energy/utility assistance resources are not sufficient for the increase in households needing help during the winter season as parents and children stay home. An allowance of $1,000 per household will be provided to support increased utility expenses of families.
Members of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) toured the new Daycare Center on Friday, Jan. 8. Photos below of new Daycare Center from top row L-R) front entrance; one of the many rooms; TGB members Tweed Shuman, Vice-Chair Lorraine Gouge, Glenda Barber and Sec-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin touring the facility; one of the toddler rooms; the kitchen and the TGB members checking out the kitchen; the storm shelter basement and storage room; and the new toddler playground.
Members of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) also toured the new LCO Fire Hall.