By Charmel Gillin 

POLSON — In lieu of the July District meeting, here is a report for the month and for the recent months. These topics are also covered in the approved meeting minutes.

You will notice the recent demolition of the former Humphry’s Law Office building on the Polson Hill on Hwy 93. That was accomplished by the Tribal Lands Office, per the direction of the Tribal Council in order to alleviate extensive cost issues related to maintaining the building. It had been too expensive to heat and had water line issues and easement issues, as well as not having enough lot space to utilize for most purposes. Renovation was not an option, due to extensive needs and cost. Rather than pass the burden to the renters/lessees, it was removed.

The lease agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor for the Kicking Horse Job Corp is nearing end. A committee of Tribal officials has convened to review and bring proposals to the Tribal Council for short-term use and long term uses. Short-term use options include housing tribal departments who are in grave need of office space. Long-term use options include a variety of potential projects: vocational training by SKC, treatment facility, an elder care facility, a forest product enterprise, to name a few. No decision has been made, as of this report.

Tribal Ordinance 69C, the Tribal Personnel policy, is under review and slated for potential redrafting. As of now, very few employees have provided feedback. The Tribal Council is delaying action in order to encourage employees to get directly involved in this important process. If you have experiences with the implementation of Ordinance 69C that may lead to improving the ordinance, please submit your comments to the Tribal Legal Department by contacting Lisa Shourds in their administrative office. This is a CSKT Ordinance and affects the membership.

Today’s tribal leaders are under a greater spotlight for conduct and the oath of office, which is to protect and defend the US Constitution and the CSKT Constitution and represent the people to the best of our ability. In order to provide the most impartial review of conduct issues raised by a tribal member regarding one member (brought forth in May), the Tribal Council took action to hire an independent consultant to review the complaint and bring a report of facts. That report has not been provided, as of today. The process is outlined in the CSKT Constitution as well as Ordinance 03-83.

CSKT is hoping to implement a pilot program that will give us a start toward a family court program. Ann Miller, CSKT Tribal Defenders will be drafting a proposal for consideration. This was birthed by a discussion about providing equal representation to tribal members in child protection services cases.

CSKT donated $200,000 to the Polson Boys and Girls Club ($55,000 was carried forward from the FY18 fundraising drive; $145,000 is from FY19). The June meeting at the Polson District provided the presentation, which included a compelling testimony from a tribal member mother and her children. She felt the access to the Ronan Boys and Girls Club “saved” her life as a low income single mother and provides incredible services to her children who now benefit from college-readiness, suicide prevention, nutrition, and much more. The Polson facility is designed to include a gymnasium, a music room, teen center, and a commercial kitchen. In Ronan, the fees are $10 per month during the school year and $50 per month during the summer months. Scholarships to pay the stipends are available. The organization held their major fund drive last week and was reportedly $300,000 short of the $4.8 million goal. Construction is expected to begin next month, if all funds are acquired. It will be located on the vacant lot near the hospital and the high school. The real estate was donated to the club for this development.

The Montana Department of Highways is preparing work on the Perma curves highway project. Tribal members who might provide water truck service or other sub-contracting work should make sure they are listed on the Indian Preference Office listing by contacting Melinda Charlo at the Tribal Complex.

A CSKT Food Sovereignty project was proposed by Patrick Yawakie and partners and received Council support. The Economic Development Office and Tribal Lands office will be working to help locate a potential agricultural lease for the project. The project is designed to develop local-grown food sources and eventually move toward processing/packaging and marketing. It will also work to get the local foods into the tribal kitchens and programs, thereby supporting local economy while improving nutritional eating habits with fresh and organic or natural foods.

Eagle Bank provided a dividend check along with an annual report and audit. The expansion of loans has added a good amount of business for the tribal bank. It has also expanded its reach by installing an ATM in St. Ignatius that accepts deposits. They reportedly have an application for smart phones for customers to use to accomplish their banking needs, including applying for loans, moving funds, depositing checks, and probably more. (I haven’t found the app, yet, but will be experimenting soon!)

There are many top positions open at the CSKT now, which require Tribal Council action to proceed. Watch for advertisements on positions, such as, Tribal Health Department Head, Tribal Lands Department Head, Tribal Economic Development Department Head, Equal Employment Opportunity/Human Resources (EEO/HR) services (likely by contract), and possibly the Tribal Administration Director. Some of these have been vacant as long as seven years; some are newly vacated. The Tribal Education Department Head was recently approved as an in-house promotion, by Tribal Council action. Other opportunities for corporate board positions and corporate management positions may be available. Watch the bulletins on websites or the Char-Koosta News or call the appropriate HR offices.

We took action to change the pay date in July and then rescinded the action in order to provide more notice to all employees so everyone could get finances in order. The change will improve the CSKT by saving tribal dollars lost due to estimating payroll which is required to be turned in before the end of the pay period. The change will allow for actual time to be reported and the pay date to be processed the following week, giving about 10 days from the end of the pay period for processing and payment. The change will now occur on December 31 pay date – which will now be paid on January 7, 2020. Please contact Rick Eneas for precise information. IMPORTANT NOTICE – plan your finances accordingly to cover the first week of January 2020.

Council will be approving election rules soon. A redraft for consideration is underway by CSKT Legal. It will include recommended language to clarify permitted use of campaign signs on Tribal lands. The next step will be to approve the schedule or election calendar. Discussion on reapportionment or redistricting occurred with no definite decision. The membership’s input is needed. Council will review the drafted ordinance for reapportionment and may consider establishing a straw poll to get the membership’s input. No decision has been made at this date on the ordinance or the straw poll. (Straw poll would not create the change but would advise the Tribal Council who would then pass an ordinance for either reapportionment or redistricting; or the result might be no action.)

Polson District Meeting attendants requested we invite Mr. Rick Eneas to an upcoming meeting to report how money from corporations is brought in and how it is handled. They also requested access to a report on the Tribal Council’s budget and expense reports. They feel the membership needs access to more information.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 21, at the Polson Indian Senior Citizens Center on 7th Avenue in Polson. Invited guests will be Energy Keepers Incorporated and CSKT Director of Finance Rick Eneas.

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