Shiprock Chapter officials send priorities to Navajo leaders for using Rescue Plan funds
Navajo president Jonathan Nez has met with 15 chapters
- The tribe has received $1.86 billion from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- Shiprock Chapter officials are pushing for the construction of an incident command center.
- The project is estimated to cost $13.19 million.
SHIPROCK — Construction of an incident command center in Shiprock topped the list that chapter officials here submitted to tribal leaders for spending the money the tribe has received under the American Rescue Plan Act.
Shiprock Chapter officials met with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer and division directors on June 10.
The conversation was part of the Nez-Lizer administration's effort to hear about needs and priorities that could be funded by the $1.86 billion the tribe received last month from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Likewise, the Navajo Nation Council has been talking with tribal government divisions, departments and programs about the funding, which must be used on purposes defined and a deadline set by the Treasury Department.
Nez has met with officials from 15 chapters as of June 11, according to his office.
He told Shiprock Chapter officials that commonalities emerging from the discussions are rural addressing, warehouses, housing, solid waste, broadband, telecommunications and office space.
Shiprock Chapter President Nevina Kinlahcheeny explained that the incident command center would serve as a fire department and a police substation and provide centralized command for emergencies.
The project is estimated to cost $13.19 million, and it has received $1 million so far from the tribe's Síhasin Fund and $3.15 million from the state of New Mexico.
"We don't want a shell for our command center," Chapter Secretary-Treasurer J. Kaibah Begay said. "We see the need of law enforcement, EMS and fire department. We don't want a fabricated building. We're looking at a hard-core building built from the ground up."
Michele Peterson, the chapter's community services coordinator, said the community deserves to have the eight projects on the list funded.
"We're asking for the incident command center because EMS would actually have a place to do their reports and to sleep, instead of sleeping in their vehicles," Peterson said.
She added that the building could provide extra space for the fire department, a resource needed now because fire activity has increased in Shiprock.
Next on the list is the Shiprock Justice Complex, a facility that would house law enforcement, tribal courts, a prosecutor's office and a detention center.
Funding for its $64 million price tag has been sought over the years by chapter officials, council delegates and other leaders.
According to the document, the project remains in the planning and design phase.
Other projects on the list include paving several roads in the Mesa Farm area, a mobile home park and a new pump station for the Hogback Irrigation Project.
"The opportunity for farms to grow fruits, vegetables, healthy foods for ourselves, to be self-sustaining. That's why we're pushing this," Kinlahcheeny said about the pump station.
The leadership is also calling for funding to clear drainage ditches and to remove trees, as well as paying for wastewater, water, natural gas, electric and broadband projects.
Chapter Vice President Debra Yazzie explained most of the items on the list are tied to the chapter's community land use plan and a 2018 survey completed by community members.
One more item on the list is a new warehouse. The item is being sought because Shiprock served as the hub for storing supplies during the pandemic for distribution to other chapters in the Northern Agency.
Peterson, the chapter's community services coordinator, explained any available space at the chapter house was used to store the items.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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