By Joe Morey
According to the Tribe’s Secretary-Treasurer, Tweed Shuman, the Elders of the Lac Courte Oreilles Community are among the top priorities of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds received by the Tribe in 2021.
During an interview over WOJB, Shuman stated the LCO Elders Program in Reserve would soon have a newer, larger, more modern Center, but the plans for funding would be from a $3.2 million dollar grant that the Tribal Grants Department has applied for, and if the grant falls through, then ARPA funds may be utilized.
“The TGB meets weekly with the ARPA team and we are deciding on some priorities, but the number one on the list is the new elder center,” Shuman said. “We have an architect who designed a master plan and the site location has been picked. Now we are looking at whether LCO Development can do the project.”
Shuman said the new location would be where the old fire hall site was because it’s the safest site regarding unmarked graves in the Reserve area. He noted because buildings were previously at that location.
“I personally don’t think we’ve done that great a job of involving the elders, but their Advisory Council has been met with and they are aware of what the building will entail, it’s going to be larger than previously planned,” Shuman explained.
According to Jordan St. Germaine of the Grants Department, the Tribe is awaiting notice if a grant will be awarded for $3.2 million to construct the new Elder Facility and if the grant is not awarded, the Tribe will revisit the source of funding.
Shuman noted in the interview that original ARPA planning called for between $1.5 and $2 million to be designated for the new facility.
“We are hoping to get the grant because then we could preserve the ARPA funds to be used elsewhere,” Shuman stated. “And it would be ideal because we’d have more funds and could make the new facility a combined community center and elder center in Reserve.”
TGB Member Michelle Beaudin told LCO News that the new facility is in the design phases now and will be a bigger and more modern facility than the one they have now but the Tribe will need to pay for the expenses for many years to come.
“Right now, Housing pays for the expenses, utilities, maintenance, etc. as it is a HUD building and they get funding for it. When we build a new one, it will be solely on the Tribe’s budget,” Beaudin said. “So, we will work on making the facility as large as we can to accommodate all services and needs of the elders, but making sure that it is not too expensive to operate in the future when we might not have as much money to keep up on the maintenance and utilities and we would not want it to fall into disrepair. We want a fully functioning facility that the elders and the community will be proud of and feel welcome at.”