Rick Abasta in Native Currents. Discussion »
TSAILE, ARIZONA The wind howled and dust swirled as the Tsaile-Wheatfields Chapter celebrated the grand opening of their new senior citizens center on October 24, 2012.
Navajo elders were treated to live entertainment courtesy
of Diné Bi Olta students in Ft. Defiance.
Elders from the community filled the white tent pitched outside the facility, along with tribal officials, county officials and members of the media.
Navajo Division of Transportation Director Paulson Chaco said the project was a good example of tribal programs working together for the benefit of the Navajo people.
“NDOT used Fuel Excise Tax funding to construct the parking lot and assist with the electrical infrastructure for the lot,”
The senior citizens of the Tsaile-Wheatfields Chapter now a have a facility to gather in the community for kinship, relaxation and celebration, he added.
The Fuel Excise Tax provides funding to projects across the Navajo Nation, in all five agencies, via the Navajo Nation Road Fund.
Applicants can apply for Navajo Nation Road Fund to receive assistance in the areas of pothole repairs, blading, graveling of dirt roads, culvert replacement, drainage and maintenance, traffic signals, streetlights, chip sealing, road maintenance, feasibility studies, surveys, environmental assessments, archaeological assessments, planning, engineering, design, access roads, parking lots, school bus route improvements, and matching fund projects.
The Navajo Nation Council enacted the Fuel Excise Tax to defray necessary governmental expenses incurred in providing for the public welfare. Currently, there is a tax of 18 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold on the Navajo Nation.
The parking lot was funded by the Fuel Excise Tax for FY 2004 and NDOT was an early supporter of the new senior citizens center.
The new building is 4,957 square feet and features a dining area with a fireplace, kitchen, three office spaces, activity area, crafts area, two bathrooms (with showers), file room, laundry room, and three storage rooms.
Completion of the facility was made possible with funding and services from NDOT, Navajo Abandoned Mine Lands, Design and Engineering Services, Capital Improvement Office, LAM Corporation, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and the chapter.
The stakeholders in the facility were NDOT, which provided $316,448 for the parking lot construction; Navajo AML with a contribution of $300,000 for the facility; NTUA contributed $75,000 for underground utilities, and the Navajo Nation, which contributed $1,307,218.24 for construction.
Zane James, president of Tsaile-Wheatfields Chapter, said the vision for the 7.8 acre land tract is nearly complete.
“The senior center is the focal point and our chapter's goal is language and cultural retention. The center is located next to the Head Start, so the elders can have interaction with the children,”
Also slated for development are a hogan multi-purpose building and daycare center.
In progress for over a decade, seed money for the senior citizens center was originally planted by the 21st Navajo Nation Council, which appropriated $1,250,000 for planning, designing and construction of the facility.
James said the chapter built the Head Start center first, which had cost savings of $195,346.41 that was carried over to construction costs of the senior citizens center.
All told, a little over $2 million was used to construct the senior citizens center, which tackled funding through various stakeholders.
One such investor said the benefit to Navajo senior citizens only added to the value of the project.
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posted November 8, 2012 6:57 am est
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