By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Tribal Council tackled 14 pieces of legislation during its annual Budget Council session on Tuesday, Sept. 1 on a variety of topics ranging from outdoor gyms to white oak trees.
Community Club funding
Council passed unanimously Res. No. 242 (2020), submitted by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, which authorizes funding to bring equity to the annual funding provided to each community club of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Each township has been allocated $10,000, but several townships have two active community clubs including: Big Cove/Tow String, Wolftown/Big Y, and Snowbird/Cherokee County.
Chief Sneed’s resolution states, “There is need for equal distribution for the communities with two active community clubs as the communities with one community club receive $10,000, and currently those with two community clubs receive $5,000 each.”
Tribal Council Chairman Adam Wachacha offered an amendment, which was passed, to add language to the legislation that this funding reoccur annually.
During discussion on the issue, it was queried as to why 3200 Acre Tract was not listed on the resolution.
“I don’t want to ask you all to appropriate funds for a community club that hasn’t been in operation for at least the last three years,” said Chief Sneed who noted that they could easily be added back to the list if they become an active club again in the future.
Wolftown Outdoor Gym
Three years ago, Council passed Res. No. 560 (2017) which instructed EBCI Facilities Management to assist in building an outdoor basketball court in the Wolftown Community. That project has yet to materialize, and Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe submitted Res. No. 243 (2020), which was tabled during Tuesday’s Budget Council session, to get the project kick-started.
There was overwhelming support for the idea during Tuesday’s meeting, but following several amendment suggestions by various Council representatives, Vice Chairman David Wolfe made the move to table the issue until the regular Tribal Council session on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Rep. Crowe’s legislation reads, “…the need for this outdoor gymnasium is still needed and the space is still available to build an outdoor basketball court in the vicinity of the stickball fields and the Wolftown Indoor Gym, and building an outdoor basketball court in the Wolftown Community is still in the best interest of our youth.”
Big Cove Rep. Richard French agreed and stated, “Going forward, we’ll probably bring something like this because Big Cove lost their outdoor gym with the new gymnasium we’re getting built. I think all the communities could use an outdoor gym because a lot of times, especially on weekends when the gyms are closed, you’ve still got people who want to practice ball.”
Discussion on the legislation included funding and the issuance of RFPs (Request for Proposals) for the project. “Once they get the bids back, then they’ll put in a funding package and we’ll identify, since this is an internal project, whether it would come from the CIP (Capital Improvement Project) or Endowment Fund,” said EBCI Secretary of Treasury Cory Blankenship.
Natural Resources funding for forest regeneration
Council passed unanimously Res. No. 244, submitted by the EBCI Natural Resources Department, which approves the Department’s expenditure plans for just over $28,000 in BIA Forest Management Deductions funding.
The legislation states, “…there is a need to provide funding to the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department for improving Tribal Reserve forest stand conditions to restore culturally and economically significant natural resources; and the Tribal Reserve Restoration and Monitoring Plan has identified a forest restoration project located in the Bigwitch sub-watershed that will enhance white oak regeneration and habitat for a variety of species.”
Mike Lavoie, EBCI Natural Resources manager, told Council on Tuesday, “We’ve been working hard, over the past few years, to develop plans and try to fund projects on our Tribal Reserve that will help restore significant plants, ecosystem services, and wildlife. This is really an exciting opportunity for us to get started, help the Tribal Reserve serve as a demonstration for us, for our tribal possessory holders as well, to hopefully expand restoration throughout the Boundary.”
Grant opportunity for tribal eagle aviary
Council passed unanimously Res. No. 248, submitted by EBCI Grants Compliance on behalf of the EBCI Natural Resources Department, that authorizes the Department to apply for grant funding from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area to aid in the planning of a tribal eagle aviary. If received, the grant funding would total $16,000 including a tribal match of $18,811 ($16,000 actual match and $2,811 in-kind).
The legislation states, “…the Natural Resources Department would utilize the grant to continue planning efforts and develop a master plan document for an eagle aviary to be located at the EBCI Hall Mountain Property to promote conservation, economic development, and cultural preservation in the Nikwasi Corridor; the site would house injured eagles that cannot be released back into the wild, visitors would be able to view the eagles, and the site will house a visitor center, hiking trails, a botanical garden, and interpretive exhibits.”
Lavoie spoke on this legislation as well noting, “Eagle aviaries have been utilized by tribes, mainly throughout the west, in a small number to provide feather resources and outreach opportunities and some economic development opportunities. We think Hall Mountain is a really special area to possibly integrate this idea into the land there.”
He added, “We completed a first phase conceptual study, through a CPF (Cherokee Preservation Foundation) grant, last year. So, this is the next phase of planning.”
Small Business loans to be paid from CARES Act funding
Council passed unanimously Res. No. 253 (2020), submitted by Chief Sneed, which authorizes the Tribe to utilize CARES Act funding, instead of EBCI General Fund monies, for its small business assistance program.
Secretary Blankenship spoke on the legislation prior to passage, “Tribal Council approved two resolutions at the outset of the pandemic following closure, Res. No. 171 (2020) and Res. No. 176 (2020). In total, we authorized up to $1.6 million to be expended under this fund. We then received the CARES Act funding and (U.S.) Treasury told us we can use that funding to provide this assistance program. So, this resolution goes back and corrects the two original resolutions – we’re going to rescind them in their entirety and now allocate that entire expenditure to the CARES Act funding.”
He added, “This program has already been executed. This is just a technical thing to say we’re not going to charge it to the General Fund. We’re going to charge it to the CARES Act.”
Secretary Blankenship also commented on the status of the program, “I received a report from the Sequoyah Fund that they had assisted 158 businesses total which included 553 jobs, 272 of which were held by enrolled members. Their total spend, as of the report, had been $1.1 million of the $1.6 million that had been authorized.”