Chapter receives funding to renovate building

Noel Lyn Smith
Community Services Coordinator Steven S. Benally talks outside a warehouse Thursday that is used for community meetings for the Navajo Nation's Teec Nos Pos Chapter in Arizona.

FARMINGTON – Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has authorized a $500,000 supplemental funding request for the Teec Nos Pos Chapter to renovate its chapter house in Arizona.

Begaye was joined by Vice President Jonathan Nez, chapter officials, chapter personnel and community members in a signing ceremony on Friday, Chapter President Alfred L. Jim said.

“I'm glad it happened. We're taking a step forward,” Jim said in a telephone interview Friday evening.

The supplemental funding will come from the tribe’s Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance and will be used to pay for expenses associated with renovating the chapter house.

The resolution also authorizes the tribe to waive the section of tribal law that outlines the process of listing projects on the tribe’s capital improvements list, since Teec Nos Pos was not included.

A sign warns away visitors to the Teec Nos Pos Chapter house Thursday in Arizona.

The chapter house was closed in May when a state of emergency was declared by the chapter administration after the building's roof was heavily damaged by rain and additional issues developed with its structure.

In addition, the state of emergency stated the Navajo Nation Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommended the closure.

Since the closure, the chapter administration has been operating from the Navajo Nation Veterans Office, which is a hogan located near the chapter house. The hogan has enough space to accommodate the community services coordinator, an account maintenance specialist and a receptionist.

Community Services Coordinator Steven S. Benally said in an interview Thursday that the tribe's Design and Engineering Services is working with the chapter administration to complete the renovation, which includes exterior and interior work, and replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Steven S. Benally, community service coordinator for the Teec Nos Pos Chapter in Arizona, talks inside a warehouse that is being used for community meetings Thursday in Arizona.

Monthly chapter meetings have been taking place inside a warehouse located south of the hogan.

Benally said the meetings are scheduled in the afternoon so the building will be warm enough, but during this month’s meeting, patio heaters were used to heat the warehouse.

“It was tolerable, and it was something we could work with during the summer,” Benally said.

Both the hogan and warehouse have no restrooms, leaving the administration to rent portable toilets.

During a tour of the chapter house on Thursday, extensive moisture damage to ceiling tiles and walls throughout the building was evident.

Environmental inspections were completed on the chapter house, and officials were told the air quality is not safe, especially for individuals who have respiratory problems, Benally said.

Steven S. Benally shows water damage inside the Teec Nos Pos Chapter House in Arizona during a tour on Thursday.

Jim, the chapter president, said the renovation work will not start immediately, and officials are continuing to work on securing a modular building to house personnel and host meetings.

In addition to the supplemental funding, the chapter is providing money to complete the renovation and is receiving help from the Navajo Revitalization Fund and the tribe’s Capital Improvement Office, according to documents attached to the legislation the Navajo Nation Council approved on Oct. 20.

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