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Tribe disburses $3.7 million during semiannual allocation process

Scott Csernyik

11/27/2001 12:00:00 AM

Projects ranging from fire apparatus to family resources were funded by a $3.7 million allocation to local governmental entities during the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan's semiannual 2 percent disbursement on Nov. 30 at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.

Since 1994, the Tribe has funded about $43 million in projects throughout Isabella County. In accordance with its gaming agreement with the state, the Tribe distributes 2 percent of its Class III gaming revenues with local governmental agencies.

These funds help the various local agencies replace finances expended to address the growth related to the presence of a thriving Tribe employing about 4,000 and attracting up to 10,000 visitors per day to Mt. Pleasant.

The recent distribution included a continued commitment to area schools, as well as infrastructure needs within Isabella County.

During this particular disbursement, the Tribe received a total of 244 applications from various agencies for a requested amount of about $16.5 million.

Isabella County received $1.6 million, including $384,330 for the Commission on Aging. The allocation will go to the following programs: In-Home Services, Food With Friends, Foster Grandparent and Gold Key Volunteer programs, as well as Senior Center Programming.

"The funding that has been provided to the Commission on Aging in the past has proven to be vital to our survival," stated Executive Director Brenda J. Upton. "The Tribal Council and their generosity has given us the means to stabilize our services and maintain a steady growth pattern."

The county also received $312,000 for three drain projects including Armstrong No. 205, Johnson No. 392 and Neff Extension No. 494. Another $70,000 was allocated to the Isabella County Drain Commission for a data setup service for GIS mapping of Isabella County.

The Isabella County Road Commission received the nod for three projects pertaining to Tomah Road in Chippewa Township and Coleman Road in Gilmore and Coldwater townships.

Mt. Pleasant city officials were approved for three projects which totaled $545,680. The Mt. Pleasant Police Department received the bulk of that amount with $520,000 going to the Youth Services Unit and Isabella County Community Intervention Task Force on School Violence.

A $400,000 allocation was awarded to Shepherd village officials for a Shepherd Road reconstruction project. The latest phase of the endeavor will cover road improvements on Shepherd Road from Wright Avenue to the north village limits.

"The Tribe has demonstrated a strong desire to complete this project by funding portions of the route through Chippewa and Coe Townships over the past few years," stated Village President Lee Coughlin in a Sept. 28 request application. "The village of Shepherd would like to request funding this fall for the portion of the route that will complete the project."

Union Township officials received $135,000 for two projects concerning McDonald Park. A $60,000 request included purchasing play equipment and paving the two dirt drives which lead to the ballfields. The $75,000 request is for the construction of a restroom facility with an attached pavilion.

Area public schools-including Mt. Pleasant, Shepherd, Chippewa Hills and Beal City-were awarded about $777,000. A total of 131 applications were submitted for funding requests which totaled about $1.8 million.

Requests from Mt. Pleasant Public Schools included the following schools: Fancher, Ganiard, Mary McGuire, Pullen, Rosebush, Vowels, West Intermediate, Mt. Pleasant High School and Oasis High School.

One of the funded requests included a $30,000 allocations for concrete sidewalk replacement at West Intermediate, Kinney, Vowles and Fancher schools. Another $30,000 was earmarked for the renovation of the technology program for Rosebush Elementary students.

"Specifically, the project would allow for the replacement of outdated computers and related technology hardware," according to the application submitted by Theresa Burdick, teacher of the emotionally impaired at Rosebush Elementary. "This technology is needed to provide the elementary-aged general and special needs child with the necessary foundation of computer skills to successfully continue his or her education in the 21st century.

"The project would fund the purchase of 20 computers, along with two printers and assorted educational software. These computers would also allow Internet access, thus providing students with an additional educational resource with which to learn."

Of the $305,499 disbursed to Shepherd Public Schools for seven projects, $147,400 was designated for the Shepherd's Activity Field for Everyone's Enjoyment (SAFE 2) project.

"It should be noted that Shepherd Middle School has a closed campus," stated the request application from Shepherd Middle School Principal Tom Shepard and Heath Nestle, eighth grade language arts teacher. "We do this in part for safety reasons, thus we are able to know where our kids are from the time they arrive until they are dropped off at home at the end of the day.

"This project would provide over 450 middle school students with a playground that is properly drained with basketball courts, volleyball courts, tether ball centers, [a] soccer and football playing area with the capabilities of having an ice rink during the winter months."