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95% Now Have Electricity
WHITE ROCK CHAPTER - In the remote northeastern area of the Navajo Nation is sits the White Rock Chapter. The Navajo Nation is broken into 110 local government subdivisions, known as chapters.
The White Rock Chapter has some 362 voters who live in desolate area some 35 miles north of Crownpoint, New Mexico, but not all live in the community because of lack of employment opportunities. White Rock Chapter is situated on a dirt road about 5.8 miles off the Highway 371.
As the smallest chapter in the Navajo Nation, White Rock has a BIA school, chapter house, senior citizens center and a chapter house in their community.
White Rock Chapter President Lucinda Henry said Local Governance Act certification is working for her community, creating an atmosphere of fiscal accountability.
Arbin Mitchell, Navajo Nation Division of Community Development Director, said Local Governance Act certification is the law and will help chapters become more self-sufficient in terms of streamlining a lot of the approval processes.
In 2009, Henry took over the reins for White Rock Chapter and found out it was in a state of disarray: missing reports, financial numbers not balancing out. "At that time, my chapter was not really doing a good job," Henry said. Personnel and financial mismanagement were an issue.
At the end of 2009, the chapter coordinator opted for the early retirement package and left. A few months later in 2010, the office specialist resigned. Faced with two vacant positions Henry decided to call Nancy Brown back to duty working for the chapter. Brown worked for the chapter as a volunteer first, before getting hired on permanently as the chapter manager.
Filling the administrative assistant position was Tabitha Harrison, who transferred from the chapter of Nageezi, where she worked toward chapter certification.
"I wanted somebody that was trying to get their chapter certified, somebody that knew what they were doing," Henry said. "My goal was to get the chapter certified within one year."
McDonald commended the work of Harrison and said she knew her finances in and out. "When she transferred, she put the finances back together from the previous year and then FY 2010, which was the current budget," McDonald said.
McDonald said by the first quarter of FY 2011, White Rock was encouraged by Mitchell to use the fast track Local Governance Act certification process.
"It was tough, really tough. The previous administration didn't really help the chapter. After they left, it was the best thing that happened," McDonald said.
By Sept. 2010, White Rock Chapter submitted their financial records for certification and auditors were called in to review their books.
"It was exciting, very exciting," Henry said. "It was a very big step for White Rock Chapter. In two years time, it was a big turnaround."
Given its remoteness, White Rock Chapter has spent years living in primitive conditions, with little electricity and limited water. Community members have to haul water from a great distance, according to Chapter Manager Nancy Brown.
Brown reports the community has traveled a long way in a short amount of time, bringing electricity to 95 percent of the community.
"On Dec. 23, 2010, power was turned on for 23 families. We had some excited community members that said they had the lights on all night," said Brown.
The telecommunications and electricity infrastructure completely transformed the White Rock Chapter from what was previously available. Chapter staff previously used a generator for electricity and a manual typewriter for correspondence.
White Rock Chapter is now switching gears and focusing their attention on a new waterline for the community.
posted July 5, 2011 6:20 am et
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