By Joe Morey News Editor
CARES Act project managers Brian Bisonette and Booki Weilgot updated the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) on Monday, Sept. 14, at their weekly meeting on the current CARES Act Projects Budget.
Although there have been a few adjustments and changes over the past few weeks, the budget remains nearly the same as originally approved by the TGB on July 13. Regarding the construction projects, Daycare and Fire Hall, Bisonette reported they are on schedule.
Booki reported that $28,500 would be used to prepare for modular classrooms to be placed at the site of the old bus barn that collapsed two winters ago across Trepania Road from the current fire hall. The funds would be used for a slab, electrical hook ups and other installation costs. The classes will be used by the environmental school through Wadookadaading for socially distanced in-person learning.
Another change at the meeting on Monday, TGB decided to cancel the purchase of four one-bedroom manufactured homes from American Homes, citing the reason being that the company was attempting to raise the price originally quoted. Two larger homes, a three-bedroom and four-bedroom, were already purchased at $65,000 and $89,000. The two larger homes will be set on current foundations prepared and ready in the Giiwedin community and, according to Bisonette, will be used as quarantine home during the pandemic.
TGB Member Glenda Barber said there were other options but she supported cancelling the purchase. Each of the four one-bedrooms were originally quoted at $46,469 but then a new price came in increasing $1,375 per home. The renovation of HIP homes on the Reservation had been taken out of the CARES Act budget and those funds directed to the American Homes purchase, but TGB decided to re-direct those funds to that renovation, which was originally $150,000.
"The TGB has already assisted some members that tested positive for Covid-19 in spite of having very limited housing units at their disposal," Bisonette said. "The acquisition of these manufactured homes will provide additional housing resources for individuals and or family members. After the outbreak ends and life resumes to normal, the TGB will contemplate the available options and make a decision on the disposition of each unit."
The total funds received by the Tribe totaled $16,718,860. The funds have been allocated to the Tribe for expenditures incurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Daycare and Fire Hall projects are both on schedule and within budgets," Bisonette stated. The new Daycare Center, currently under construction is estimated to cost $3,324,500. The facility is currently under construction near the Four Corners of Froemel Road and Trepania Road on the footprint of the LCO Early Headstart/Headstart. The construction estimate includes a playground, facility and architectural costs.
The new Fire Hall is estimated to cost $1,530,000. The facility is currently under construction at the site of the old Tru Gas tanks on Round Lake School Road.
“While there is latitude on how the Tribe can spend these funds, they still must be expended by December 31 with the intent of covering costs for response, planning and/or prevention to the current and future effects of the pandemic,” the TGB noted in a previous statement.
The largest portion of the funds was given to the entire tribal membership in the form of a $1,000 payment to adults and $500 per child for an original total of $7,723,500 but that amount has since been reduced to $7,426,500. The resolution stated the payment to Tribal Members will be for reimbursement of cost burden of home schooling, extra food, utility bills, clothing, child care and other expenses related to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
In the original budget, the TGB committed $880,682 for their match in the $2,154,082 estimated cost of the Tribal Office Expansion project, but that has since increased to $1,560,265. The expansion will build an additional 6,998 square feet of office space and remodel 3,436 square feet providing more needed space for the Tribal Court and other services. The rest of the cost is funded by grants.
Regarding the hiring of workers in all three of these projects, Bisonette told the TGB that the contractor, DBS Group, was instructed to use all tribal members and to use local vendors because we want to keep this money here in our community.
In order to help improve communications throughout the reservation, the TGB committed a portion of funds to WOJB totaling $234,000 broken down as follows; $155,880 to a new WOJB tower and antennae; $26,235 to supplies (generator, portable remote systems, laptops and stereo STL system); $21,000 for a sound board; $17,000 for cloud automation; and over $14,000 for engineers.
Four new police cars will be purchased and will include all new equipment such as repeaters, radios etc, at a cost of $297,578. Two vehicles will be purchased for LCO Conservation at a cost of $71,809, and a new hearse will be purchased for Pineview Funeral Service at a cost of $21,500.
The TGB also allocated $29,000 to Pineview for other supplies, including PPE supplies.
TGB aims to use CARES Act funds to purchase two homes that were built partially on the reservation, half on and the other half on non-tribal land. TGB member Tweed Shuman said the Tribe will offer to buy the homes from the non-Tribal owners so that we can use the homes as rental units to supplement a housing shortage on the reservation. The cost is $180,000.
Additionally, three Home Improvement Project homes occupied by tribal Elders will be renovated at a cost of $50,000 per home for a total of $150,000.
The Tribe is in need of a Wheel Loader for the construction projects, so TGB added this purchase to the CARES Act funds at a cost of $256,607 and finally, $127,000 will be used to pay for two project planners/managers. They will both oversee the construction project funding. Also $52,586 was allocated for a disbursement administrator.
And finally, $100,000 was allocated for youth programs. Chairman Taylor said he wanted to make sure there are funds available for youth programs this fall.
“We don’t know what this fall is going to be like with the pandemic,” Taylor stated. “I really want our Tribal Governing Board to do more for our youth.”