Delegate Dwight Witherspoon sits in the Council Chambers during the first day of the winter session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday in the Council
Delegate Dwight Witherspoon sits in the Council Chambers during the first day of the winter session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday in the Council Chambers in Window Rock, Ariz. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

Window Rock — The state of nation address presented to the Navajo Nation Council during the first day of the winter session reflected on the work completed so far by the Shelly-Jim Administration.

The address was presented by Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim to council Monday in the council chamber in Window Rock.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly did not attend the first day because he is working on legal issues concerning the tribe's gaming compact with New Mexico, his spokesman Rick Abasta said.

Unlike previous state of the nation addresses, this one was divided into five "pillars" that focused on infrastructure development; economic prosperity and job creation; healthy lives; open and accountable government; and educational opportunities.

"These five pillars have given stability to the Navajo Nation for the first quarter of FY (fiscal year) 2014," Jim said. "We will continue to build upon this foundation for continued success in the years to come."

Under the economic prosperity and job creation pillar, Jim said the Division of Economic Development is reviewing a project to bring the company, Smith Electric, to the Navajo Nation.

Smith Electric is an electric car manufacturing company from the United Kingdom and the company is looking an international expansion for licensed manufacturers.

Although Jim did not provide further information about this business venture, he said it is a relationship the division is looking forward to developing.

Jim mentioned the "Running for a Stronger and Healthier Navajo Nation," an event which he spearheaded and held last summer across the reservation.

The vice president said 200 runners and 1,500 walkers participated and more than 2,000 community members received health education.

Jim talked about the efforts of the Division of Public Safety to improve the health of communities.

Delegate LoRenzo Bates listens to the delegates as they introduce visiting officials during the winter session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday in
Delegate LoRenzo Bates listens to the delegates as they introduce visiting officials during the winter session of the Navajo Nation Council on Monday in the Council Chambers in Window Rock, Ariz. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

The tribe's Drug and Gang Unit conducted 40 drug and alcohol operations across the reservation which resulted in 27 people being arrested and the seizure of five marijuana plants, 600 grams of process marijuana, 45-ounces of methamphetamines, and two oxycodone pills.

Under educational opportunities, Jim said reading is the foundation to learning.

The donation of 7,888 books from the "Reader to Reader Organization" to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock is encouraging people to read, Jim said.

The organization also donated books to the Office of the First Lady and schools in St. Michaels, Jeddito, and Chinle in Arizona and to Thoreau and Navajo in New Mexico.

Jim said the administration is continuing to work with Navajo Head Start administrators to bring the program into compliance with federal policies.

"Lingering issues from past audits need to be corrected and we firmly stand committed to addressing these deficiencies," Jim said. "The ultimate goal is to provide our young Navajo students with a safe and sanitary learning environment for their formidable years of learning."

Another highlight mentioned by Jim took place in November 2011 when a 7-mile road project was completed in Torreon, N.M.

The $3.3 million project was funded through a partnership between the Navajo Department of Transportation, Sandoval County and the federal government.

Five Navajo projects are listed on the Indian Health Services national health care facilities construction priority list, including facilities in Bodaway-Gap, Dilkon and Kayenta in Arizona and Gallup and Pueblo Pintado in New Mexico.

Jim stated that the health care facility under construction in Kayenta is 65 percent complete and has received a total of $96.6 million in federal funding.

The Division of Economic Development continues to move forward with plans to construct the Thoreau Industrial Park Railhead, he said.

Blue Horse Energy LLC, a Navajo owned company, was selected to provide development, operations, financing and management of the operation, which is scheduled to begin June 2015.

Another project under development is decentralizing the tribe's Local Governance Support Centers, which are housed under the Division of Community Development.

The division would like to break the five support centers into 16 administrative service centers that would provide chapter houses with legal services and financial accounting as well as assist those local governments with working towards certification under the Local Governance Act.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. nsmith@daily-times.com Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.