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New Tribal Aging and Disability Services Center Holds Ribbon Cutting

By Joe Morey

News Editor

The new Tribal Aging and Disability Services nutrition center in Reserve held its ribbon cutting and open house on Friday, March 2, with a feast and tours of the facility. Construction of the new facility, paid for by a Neighborhood Investment Fund Program grant awarded to the Tribe in early 2022 in the amount of $3,134,320, began less than two years ago.

Director of the program, Rose Gokee, welcomed many community members and representatives from various organizations that helped with the project, or are helping along the way, such as the Sawyer County ADRC, GLITC, Feed my People, UW Extension and others.

“We appreciate you here with us to celebrate this long overdue facility for our community,” said Gokee.

The new facility was built to help serve ‘vulnerable populations’ at Lac Courte Oreilles and consists of 7,200 square feet of a larger congregate area for meals; a work out room; gated patio area; walk-in cooler; walk-in freezer; walk-in pantry, commercial dishwasher; more office space; conference room; four stall attached garage; and more storage space. 

Gokee explained that Tribal Aging and Disability Services program relies on a variety of funding sources and when grants don’t cover the expenses, they count on the Tribal Governing Board (TGB). She thanked them. Representing the TGB at the ribbon cutting were LCO Vice Chairman Tweed Shuman, LCO Sec-Treasurer Bill Trepanier and member Gary “Little Guy” Clause.

Shuman said the idea to develop a new facility for the elders was one of the easiest decisions the TGB ever had to make.

“I was honored to be a part of it,” Shuman said.

Trepanier said the building went up really fast and it is a testament to LCO’s resilience.

“I give a shout out to DBS for this facility. This project didn’t fit into their schedule and they moved things around to make it happen,” Trepanier said.

Little Guy said he was glad to see young people at the ribbon cutting as we were all taught to take care of our elders.

“Migwech to everyone for making this happen. I’m just happy to be here just like everyone else,” Little Guy said.

In attendance was Amy Anderson Schweppe from the Neighborhood Investment Fund Program of Governor Evers’ Dept. of Administration. Schweppe said she travels around the state checking in on the projects funded by their grant program, and she just happened to be at LCO meeting with the TGB that morning. The nutrition center was one of her projects she helped fund.

“People here this morning have used the word team,” Schweppe said. “But this is more than team, this is family, this is community. I’m so thankful to be here and hear about how you’re growing.”

Tribal elder Dennis White gave the invocation for the ribbon cutting. He said it wasn’t that long ago they were doing the groundbreaking.

“I remember it doesn’t seem that long ago just across the road was our old tribal offices. How far we’ve come,” White said. He explained how we help each other up when we are a babies, and still as we turn 18.

“And even when we turn 60, we have to help lift them up and I look at this building as doing just that. We are helping each other up,” White said.

Ed Chaney, project supervisor from DBS, said they were thankful to be a part of the project but it was Bob Sharlow and his crew at LCO Development that did everything.

“It was the Tribe that built this building. We didn’t do it. You did it,” Chaney said. And he said it was Rose Gokee that cracked the whip.

Rose said the elders played an important role in the direction of the facility and how it was built. She also said the Development crew were huge. She said they even moved everything from the old building over to the new building in just a couple days.

Bob Sharlow, LCO Development Director, said there were 38 people who worked on their crews to construct the facility.

“I’ve got 30 years in this business and I’ve seen a lot of buildings, but this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. They left no stone unturned,” Sharlow said. “It’s a project we should all be so proud of.”

The staff of the nutrition center and program acknowledged Rose Gokee, their boss.

Allison Cuddy said Rose teaches them, motivates them, encourages them.

“You can’t ask for a better boss and all of us here feel that way,” Cuddy said. “We are a great team because we have a great leader.”

The funding for the new facility was part of a nearly $650 million investment allocated by Governor Evers for community building and recovery efforts statewide. The Neighborhood Investment Fund program was announced in August 2021 and was administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Grants awarded ranged in size from $1 million to a maximum of $15 million and were funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The ribbon cutting with Rose Gokee holding the scissors and Marie Kuykendall from the LCO Elders Council next to her. From the TGB were Tweed Shuman up front, Bill Trepanier and Little Guy behind Marie. Bob Sharlow stands behind Tweed and Amy Schweppe from the Dept. of Administration is next to Tweed.

In the pictures from top clockwise) Rose speaks at the open house; all of the nutrition center staff; Dennis White gives invocation; the elders and guests; the Badger Singers; Bob Sharlow.

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From the TGB were Tweed Shuman up front, Bill Trepanier and Little Guy behind Marie. geometry dash lite


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