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New Clinic Plans Presented to TGB; Final Funding Sources Yet to Be Named

By Joe Morey

News Editor

Tom Allman, Woodstone Inc Project Manager, informed the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) that all the drawings and renderings for the proposed new LCO Community Health Center, possibly planned to be located near the Sevenwinds Casino, are completed.

Allman presented them to the TGB at a meeting held with them and staff from both, Woodstone and the Health Center.

“We’re very happy with the bids. It was super positive and we came in $200,000 under projections,” Allman stated. He explained it was down so much more because there were 86 bids, due to subcontractor availability, stating that the only actual cost that came down was lumber.

“We just got more bids and it was competitive,” Allman said. “There is a ton of work out there with the Tribes right now, but the public sector is slowing down. Residential construction has slowed.”

The new estimate for the clinic is now at $39,520,240, down from the previous estimate of $39,337,736.

LCO Chairman Louis Taylor asked Allman if the Tribe needed to get moving on this to lock in that cost projection and Allman said it would be best to get it locked in over the next couple of weeks.

Allman told the TGB they have a contractor who could do the whole project, but they are willing to break it into pieces so that LCO Development could be involved.

“We love working with Development,” Allman said. “Woodstone is the construction managers and we’re going to sub everything out.”

LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman asked what happens if the project comes in under projections and Allman said it 100% goes back to the owner (the Tribe).

“We are an open book and you’ll know where every dollar is spent,” Allman said.

LCO Health Center Director Gary Girard, told the TGB that all doctors and providers had input in the process, and they all believe the clinic will double its occupancy in the new building.

“We have, what I believe, is the best plan,” Girard said. “With this plan, if we explode in services, we’ll be able to expand. It’s set up for that.”

Girard told TGB that all clinic services, including Bizhiki and the Recovery Clinic, would be under one roof.

Shuman asked Girard and Allman if this proposal is for the Taj Mahal of clinics or is it a workable facility.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the Taj Majal, but it’s a beautiful building,” Allman replied. Allman said that at $541 per square foot, it’s a great price, especially since Covid.

Girard agreed but added that it does have some class put to it.

Allman said if the TGB approves the plan and they move ahead with seeking the funding, they could plan a groundbreaking for June 7, then they would have foundations in before winter.

“We’ll be set up to work through the winter. Ideally, we’d be water-tight by Jan. 18.”

He said they’d pour slabs, frame walls and then have the building enclosed and begin mechanical and electrical after that.

The construction schedule would be 18 months and the plan would be to have the clinic complete by February of 2025.

Glenn Hall from the clinic finance department explained the potential financing. He said they are seeking $8.5 million in tax credits and that won’t have to be paid back if we operate for 7 years. He added they would get $6.5 in ARPA secured funds, and they would apply for an IHS ambulatory grant in an amount of $2 million and this amount could go up to $4 million depending on how many candidates there are that apply for the grant.

Hall said there would also be a construction grant of $5 million and then an additional $7 million from Tribal Equity.

With these amounts listed, Bremer and Baker Tilly are interested in lending, he noted.

Shuman said he sent the completed 2021 audits to Baker Tilly but hasn’t heard back yet from them. The completion of the audit was one of their concerns.

Shuman also said a Native American bank has shown a lot of interest as well.

“We’d be looking at $8m to $10m in lending,” Shuman noted.

Hall said he spoke with Tom Ranfranz of Mystic Lake. Their lending operation to other Tribes has been closed since Covid but Ranfranz indicated they are about to open again and may be a possible source. Hall said Mystic Lake likes to lend around $12m to $15m.

Shuman also said the Tribe just paid off the casino loan with First Secured Community Bank and that they are interested in doing other projects with the Tribe.

Shuman told LCO News that a meeting is planned with First Secured for early April.

Chairman Taylor said under this plan, its three months to groundbreaking, “Can we have a lead lender by then?”

Hall said he has seen them come together that fast, especially when they are interested.

TGB hears clinic plans presented by project managers of Woodstone, Inc.

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