Updates also provided on economic development projects



SHIPROCK — Shiprock Chapter officials and personnel continue to address sanctions imposed by Navajo Nation officials nearly six years ago.

An update on the chapter's efforts was provided to residents during a meeting today at the chapter house here.

Chapter president Duane "Chili" Yazzie organized the meeting to discuss the community's needs, concerns and projects, and opportunities for economic development.

In December 2011, the Budget and Finance Committee approved a recommendation from the Office of the Auditor General for sanctions after the office found the chapter and its officials failed to implement a corrective action plan for managing its finances and programs.

Yazzie said chapter officials and personnel have been addressing the issues outlined in the audit, and the auditor general's office is interested in reviewing the work.

Michele Peterson, the chapter's community services coordinator, said an attempt was made to have the auditor general's office visit last week, but a visit will most likely take place in December.

Peterson added the goal is to have the sanctions cleared by February.

"We want to get out of sanctions," Yazzie said, adding the next step would be applying for certification under the Local Governance Act.

Residents also were updated about the building that formerly housed the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The 18,600-square-foot building sustained heavy damage from a fire in August.

Wetona Becenti is the program supervisor for the Office of Diné Youth, which replaced the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The Office of Diné Youth was among the entities that had used the structure since it was built in the 1960s.

Becenti said a contractor was hired to clear the building's interior, and the Risk Management Program will pay for demolition services. Demolition could take place in January, she said.

The building sits on 18 acres, and the area is slated for use by the Division of Public Safety and the judicial branch for the Northern Justice Center, Yazzie said.

The center would house a tribal police department, courts and detention facilities for adults and juveniles.

Community members also were told that the chapter's planning commission is working with the Navajo Division of Transportation to establish bus service in Shiprock. Yazzie said bus routes and stops have been determined, and a bus has been secured for the service.

David Silversmith, a proposal writer for NDOT, said applications continue to be accepted for bus drivers.

Work also continues on developing the Shiprock Pinnacle Hotel. Approximately $14.9 million has been set aside by the tribe for project development, Yazzie said.

"We have it. It's just a matter of where we'll put the hotel," he said adding a proposed location is on land north of the Wells Fargo Bank.

This hotel is vital because it would help the community capitalize on tourists who travel through the area, he said.

Other economic development ideas include building a museum, art galleries and cafes, he said.

"We need to establish ourselves as the leader Shiprock needs to be," Yazzie said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

Read or Share this story: http://www.daily-times.com/story/news/local/navajo-nation/2017/12/01/shiprock-chapter-continues-address-sanctions/911630001/