State of the Tribe Address from LCO Chairman Louis Taylor
Greetings Tribal Members:
We’ve had a harsh Winter and despite the many snow storms, despite the heavy rain and flooding, our Tribe continues to move forward at a significant pace. I am glad to report to you, the Membership, the State of our Tribe.
Many notable things are happening at Lac Courte Oreilles from increasing revenue streams, additional educational opportunities, rising wages and employment, expanded health and human services, to open transparency and communications between our Tribal Government and the Membership.
The State of our Tribe has never been better.
When you elected me to Council, I promised to address your concerns. After nearly two years, we have accomplished so much, and we have our sights set on accomplishing much more.
We signed the historic Enbridge deal and recently signed another historic deal. We’ve renewed our LCO Financial Services contract with Cane Bay, our service providers. This deal has the potential to generate up to $4 million per year for our Tribe, and if the operation proves even more successful, over the 9.25-year life of the contract, it is projected to bring in up to $70 million. In addition to these long-term projected revenues, as part of the new deal, Cane Bay has agreed to make a community investment to Lac Courte Oreilles in the amount of $1.8 million, which we received on Thursday, March 7.
With Enbridge and LCO Financial Services, we won’t have to rely entirely on gaming revenues anymore. We shouldn’t have to worry about the slower winter season revenues. With both significant revenue streams, we have secured a brighter future for our children here at Lac Courte Oreilles. It’s great to have right now, but even better knowing it’s here for our future.
With our added revenue, we need to have a policy in place on how the money is spent and what our priorities are. For example, it’s important that Signor gets a water system. I know how their water is. We need to talk about these important projects like Signor and figure out which ones need attention first.
The Casino is maintaining well financially despite their fixed bond payments and slow winter season; they have remained under budget.
I received a report that the average income of our community members has increased in the past year from $23,000 to $27,000. Though that is a great improvement, we will continue to increase these numbers, especially with all the new opportunities we have been afforded.
Although we have increased revenues, we will not stop here. Our Tribe is looking into the hemp production business. There is a lot to learn on this venture, and we expect that within a couple of years, this could be another tribal operation that has the potential to generate millions of dollars annually.
Our land at the C2 Convenience Store is now in trust and this will allow us to offer the same gas rate there that we do at the other stations, and our Tribal Members will be able to use their gas discounts here as well. In my opinion, now that C2 is in trust, we should make that our main convenience store on the corner by expanding it and of course transferring all C1 employees there. This would eliminate the competitiveness between our very own businesses, with better access from Highway B for customers coming from Hayward, and we could open the area for a better view of our Casino.
Regarding the old halfway house, a plan was presented to turn it into a “sober house” but that intention never became fact. People were living there without any oversight from any program or organization of our Tribe. I have sincere sympathy for people who are overcoming drug addictions, but I have even more sympathy to the children of these families. I’d like to see the old halfway house opened to house minor children of addicted parents to live there until their parents get the help they need. This would take a lot of planning, and some funding, but it could be significant in keeping our families together and our children home here at LCO. If Indian Child Welfare (ICW) can provide funds to foster parents, can they fund a home and “house parents”?
I am happy to be able to report to you that the State of our Tribe has never been better. I remain committed to you, the Tribal Membership, to do what I feel is best for our People and for a brighter future for all.