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Latest 2 percent distribution places a continued emphasis on area schools

Scott Csernyik

7/14/2003 12:00:00 AM

State cutbacks in school aid have been partially offset by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's semiannual 2 percent disbursement process.

Of the $3.7 million allocated on May 28 at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, $1.4 million went to area schools. Of that amount, the Tribe allocated $399,656 to cover state aid reductions to Mt. Pleasant, Shepherd, Beal City and Chippewa Hills high schools. Public school requests for this particular distribution totaled 279 for about $4.3 million.

"We want to help out with the local schools," stated Chief Maynard Kahgegab Jr. "We believe that education is very important, not only to the future of this Tribe, but to all communities."

A complete breakdown of all the funded projects can be found on page 7. Since 1994 the Tribe has allocated about $54.5 million to area programs and projects. In accordance with its consent agreement with the state, the Tribe distributes 2 percent of its Class III gaming revenues with local governments.

Isabella County received $1.4 million, including $325,000 for a mobile data system. Another $350,000 was granted for improvements to the Summerton and Broomfield intersection. The safety improvements include construction of turnlanes and road realignment.

"Due to steady growth in this area of the county, traffic volumes have increased and safety improvments are in desperate need at this corner," stateed Isabella Road Commission Manager James L. Miller in the 2 percent application.

The city of Mt. Pleasant was allocated $258,000 for four projects, including $140,000 for High Street reconstruction and improvement from Eastlawn to Brown streets.

"The 700 feet of High Street from Eastlawn to Brown street is proposed for reconstruction under this project because of the need to improve traffic flow at the Brown Street intersection to the hospital," stated Director of Public Works Duane Ellis in the request.

Blacktopping of Leaton Road from Stevenson Lake to East Coleman roads for $162,395 in Wise Township was another request given the greenlight during the disbursment.

Besides improvements to roadways, the Tribe also made allocations concerning public safety issues. Denver Township officials were granted $187,000 for a new firetruck.

"Our present two pumpers consist of a 1963 International and a 1988 Ford," according to Denver Township Supervisor Joseph J. Pedjac. "The fire district would like to replace the 1963 pumper, which we cannot get parts easily."

Firefighting equipment totaling $31,000 was allocated to Deerfield Township.

"Equipment to be purchased includes two-way radios, radio pagers, fire hose, firefighting-foam application equipment, a breathing apparatus refill station, ventilation saw and an office computer," said Fire Chief Tom Hoffman. "These pieces of equipment are needed to enhance the protection of the public and the safety of our firefighters."