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First Elmo district meeting done, more to come

By Lailani Upham

Despite the snowy highways, a small crowd gathers at the community center in Elmo for the first district meeting of the year.  (Lailani Upham photo)Despite the snowy highways, a small crowd gathers at the community center in Elmo for the first district meeting of the year. (Lailani Upham photo)

ELMO – Despite snowy and slick road condition, rearly 40 people showed up on a Sunday for the first Elmo District meeting this year.

It was actually the first in several years that Elmo held a community district meeting stated Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Councilmember Len Two Teeth of the Elmo District.

According to Two Teeth, the agreed decision from the CSKT Tribal Council came during the beginning term to hold district meetings at each location per quarter. The next one scheduled for Elmo will be in the Fall he said.

Although the decision was a consensus with the council team, Two Teeth says he planned on having community meetings due to the people feeling disregarded. “The people up North were feeling left out of the process,” Two Teeth stated.

Allen Caye inquires with several questions throughout the meeting. (Lailani Upham photo)Allen Caye inquires with several questions throughout the meeting. (Lailani Upham photo)

Two Teeth says the idea of holding meeting in all districts on a regular basis has a lot to do with what the people want, “Transparency.”

CSKT Polson District Representative Vernon Finley and Ronan Representative and CSKT Tribal Vice-President Carole Lankford were also present. The meetings will have a minimum of two representatives at each.

Other tribal department representatives were also present: Charmel Gillin, Energy Keepers, Inc. Director of Finance; CSKT Economic Development Director Janet Camel; and Anita Matt and Teresa Wall-McDonald from the CSKT Lands Department.

The Cobell Land Buy Back Program was broken down by Teresa Wall-McDonald and Anita Matt and questions were answered. (For detailed information on the Land Buy Back program, see CKN article, “Interior announces next cooperative agreements under Land Buy-Back Program for tribal nations;” February 6, 2014.

CSKT Polson District Representative Vernon Finley answers questions regarding the upcoming acquiristion of Kerr Dam. (Lailani Upham photo)CSKT Polson District Representative Vernon Finley answers questions regarding the upcoming acquiristion of Kerr Dam. (Lailani Upham photo)

Gillin presented on the update of the arbitration process regarding the determination of the fair market value on cost of Kerr Dam. (See article CKN article, 2/6/14, “Partial award announced for the cost of Kerr Dam.”)

According to the earlier CKN article the disputed price the Tribes will have to pay for acquiring the Kerr Project, with PPL Montana asserting that the acquisition cost should be $49.4 million, and the Tribes asserting a much lower price of $13.5 million.

The ruling decision on final cost is scheduled for March 5. However, Finley responded to a question on the price of $49 million that, “The most the Tribes will pay is $22 million.”

Gillin explained at this point in the development capital projects people are being set in the right positions and are planning the finances for years ahead so they will be prepared for any incurring costs that can sprout from the project, whether it be five, 10, 20, 30 years.

Despite the snowy highways, a small crowd gathers at the community center in Elmo for the first district meeting of the year.  (Lailani Upham photo)Despite the snowy highways, a small crowd gathers at the community center in Elmo for the first district meeting of the year. (Lailani Upham photo)

“The owning preparation is to have realistic expectations on repairs and to have reserve fund over the course of time to be ready to make those repairs,” Gillin stated.

She also explained that a power marketing firm is on contract to train and prepare staff on how to make sales and work the details to understand how to market and to understand through models on the process of the dam’s water flows and so forth.

Tribal Health Youth and Wellness Coordinator Pearl Yellowman Caye announced each Wednesday afternoons after school, kids are welcome to go to the Elmo Community Center for snacks, help with homework and Kootenai language lessons.

There will also be a free comedy night at 7 p.m. at the Elmo Community Center courtesy of the AIHEC Sports and Student Leadership and CKST Tribal Health and Human Services. Featured comedians Chance Rush and Emcee One will be hold the show. The main Comedy show will be held on Friday, February 28 at the SKC Joe McDonald Athletic Center in Pablo at 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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