By Joe Morey
The LCO Grants Department has applied for an Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) in the amount of $700,000 to expand the tribal administration building on Trepania Road.
According to Kelly Nayquonabe of the grants department, the plan will see the tribal office expand on the East side of the building out to the sidewalk. LCO Family Services, Child Support and the LCO Tribal Court are the three departments that will have expanded space.
“These three programs have outgrown their current locations and the extra space is much needed,” LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver said. “The tribal court, for example, only has the hallway and there may be an Indian Child Welfare case where both families have to sit next to each other. The court needs a lobby and this plan will give them that.”
Nayqounabe said the tribal governing board identified Child Support/Indian Child Welfare facilities expansion as priority development needs of the tribe for the Block Grant program.
“This decision was based upon the input of the tribal community and resources available to support operating costs,” Nayqounabe added.
Child Support and Indian Child Welfare services have expanded over the last four years and office space is not available to accommodate the growing service needs, according to the grants department.
The plan states the tribe will expand the tribal office at a preliminary cost of $1,293,045. The available grant funds are $700,000 and the tribe will match the remaining funds.
Nayquonabe said that although the tribe has been awarded in the past, there is no guarantee the tribe will receive the funding. “It’s a very competitive process.”
The tribe expects the project to begin on May 15, 2019 and will need to be completed by May of 2022, a three-year grant. Nayquonabe said it usually takes a few months to hear if the tribe has been awarded. She said they may hear in April.
A public comment period ended on Dec. 20, 2018, and Mary Wolf, former director of the LCO Senior Nutrition Site in Reserve, questioned the need for this expansion versus the need for an elder care facility.
“As a tribal member (who is now an elder), my comment is the membership has been requesting a skilled nursing facility (SNF), CBRF, Assisted Living, and/or Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCAC), for the past 20 years. We need to make this a priority for the Tribe. We were told this type of project needed to wait until the water treatment facility was completed,” Wolf wrote.
“We have an influx of baby boomers who are becoming elderly and we have a housing shortage. We have family caregivers who are trying to stay employed while caring for the increasing needs of their elderly family members,” Wolf wrote.
In response, Rose Gokee, LCO Tribal Council member, made the following statement;
The comment is a legitimate concern and very good point. I believe it has been identified that an assisted living facility is a need for our community. However, we also have a growing population overall which means an increase in workforce, which provides needed services to the community, that we are not able to adequately house due to current office space limitations.
The Tribe did designate through resolution some land for a new Health & Wellness Facility. The original plans for the new facility did include plans for a nursing home and assisted living facility but again due to costs we are not able to achieve it all. This takes adequate planning and funding.
The Tribe is continuing advocacy regarding the Long-Term Care Waiver. A meeting was recently held with Oneida regarding their three-way agreement and MOU that they have in place with the State and the Managed Care Organization. The next step is to meet with Menominee and see what they have in place. We would then build a three-way agreement and develop an MOU as we move forward with building the program to meet the needs of elders in our community to allow them to remain in their home with services in place.
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver, in an interview on the store relocation plan (in this issue), while discussing the site plan for the store and new health and wellness center, said the tribe has a future plan to possibly place an assisted living facility in the acreage behind the health and wellness center.