EBCI Joint Information Center wins top SOAR Award

by Nov 3, 2021NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments



One Feather Staff


The EBCI Joint Information Center won the top award as the 2020-21 SOAR (Success in Operations, Accountability, and Reporting) Awards were given during a Tribal Council session on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 3.  The Center, which consists of various tribal programs formed in a joint effort to disseminate information during the COVID-19 pandemic, won the prestigious Chief Noah Powell Fiscal Excellence Award.

Some members of the EBCI Joint Information Center (JIC) pose with the Chief Noah Powell Fiscal Excellence Award which was presented to the group during the annual SOAR Awards given out during a Tribal Council session on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Chris McCoy, front and center, is shown holding the trophy. Behind him, left to right, are Sheyahshe Littledave, Cherokee Indian Hospital; Scott McKie Brings Plenty, Cherokee One Feather; Radonna Crowe, EBCI Public Health and Human Services; Ashleigh Stephens, Office of the Principal Chief; Yona Wade, Cherokee Central Schools; Mollie Grant, EBCI Emergency Management; and Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed. (Photo by Breanna Lucas/Office of the Principal Chief)

The Center’s team consists of personnel from various tribal programs including: EBCI Public Health and Human Services, Cherokee Indian Hospital, EBCI Communications, Cherokee Boys Club, Cherokee Central Schools, EBCI Public Safety, Cherokee One Feather, Cherokee Indian Police Dept., Office of the Principal Chief, and the Office of the Vice Chief.

“Our role as the Joint Information Center is to disseminate information in efforts to keep our community members healthy and safe,” Radonna Crowe, one of the driving forces behind the Center’s activities, said in a video statement.  “We continue to do this by changing and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of this pandemic.  COVID-19 has taken the lives of many people across the country and in our community.  And, our goal is to ensure that our community members receive all the information needed in order to make informed decisions for their families.”

The awards were presented by the EBCI Office of Internal Audit and Ethics, and Sharon Blankenship, program manager, stated at the beginning of the presentation, “We appreciate all tribal programs that are dedicated to serving our Tribe.”

In addition to the top award, a total of six other programs were recognized with Fiscal Commitment Awards including: EBCI Human Resources, Cherokee Family Support Services, Cherokee Fire and Rescue Dept., Cherokee Water Treatment Program, EBCI Emergency Management, and EBCI Housekeeping.

Fiscal Commitment Award – EBCI Human Resources (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Sarah Teesateskie, EBCI Secretary of Human Resources, noted, “It is an honor to lead the Human Resources team consisting of 19 employees.  The Human Resources Division has a unique opportunity to touch the lives of all EBCI employees – from recruiting to onboarding, training and development, career advancement, retirement and benefits.  During the pandemic, our team worked to ensure that all of the tribal workforce needs were met.”

Fiscal Commitment Award – Cherokee Family Support Services (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Barbara Jones, Cherokee Family Support Services program manager, said she is very proud of the Lighten Up Project they implemented.  “In all the magnitude and importance of the Lighten Up Project, Family Support Services strategized to create the fastest way to implement the program on behalf of the Tribe, the most efficient way to collect data, generate fiscal accountability, and have a written policy to guide the process – and a unique name so that all could identify the project easily…within the first 24 hours of the project, we collected 154 applications.  That was a success.  This was the first online application; so, we selfishly take credit for creating that process.”

Fiscal Commitment Award – Cherokee Fire and Rescue Dept. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Thomas Simmons, Cherokee Fire Dept. assistant fire chief, noted, “Cherokee Fire and Rescue is made up of 34 highly-trained and dedicated firefighter and rescue techs.  Our mission is to protect the lives and properties of the residents of the Qualla Boundary and the surrounding communities from natural and man-made disasters.  We provide a top-level service for the EBCI with a minimum of manpower and a streamlined budget.  We’ve been able to maintain operations 24/7, 365 for the COVID emergency without dropping below our minimum manning.”

Fiscal Commitment Award – Cherokee Water Treatment Program (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Henson Littlejohn, Cherokee Water Treatment Plant lead operator, said, “Our basic service is to provide treatment for the drinking water for Cherokee, Rough Branch, 3200 (Acre Tract), and the Snowbird communities…we put a lot of time and dedication into it.  All of the men and women who work there have put in a lot of personal time into furthering their craft – a lot of hours worked.  It’s a real great team effort put in to provide these services.”

Fiscal Commitment Award – EBCI Emergency Management (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Robert Panther, EBCI Emergency Management coordinator, said, “The Emergency Management Dept. supports the citizens and emergency personnel to build, sustain, and improve the Tribe’s capability to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.  Even if we are not successful in reducing the threat of disasters or our vulnerability to them, we can reduce the Boundary’s risk by mitigating the consequences by preparing our facilities and communities for the threat of disasters and/or pandemics.”

Fiscal Commitment Award – EBCI Housekeeping (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photo)

Bettina Hornbuckle, EBCI Housekeeping program manager, praised the program’s efforts of cleaning and sanitizing during the pandemic.  “Our Housekeeping staff are hard-working individuals who take pride in their work.  Through the uncertainties and challenges created by COVID-19, they continued to perform their job duties safely and successfully without hesitation.”

Past winners of the Chief Noah Powell trophy include: EBCI Financial Accountability Team (2012-13), Tribal Construction Inventory Program (2013-14), Cherokee Home Health (2014-15), Cherokee Indian Hospital IPD Team (2015-16), Cherokee Family Safety (2016-17), Cherokee Water and Sewer Program (2017-18), and the EBCI Office of Budget & Finance Accounting Dept. (2018-19).