Tribal day care plans progress; 3 dozen new jobs projectedSep 19, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
The Arapaho general council has voted to allow Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing to use federal grant money to construct of a new child care center.
The facility, estimated to cover 12,720 square feet adjacent to the Wind River Hotel and Casino, is expected to employ 20-40 full-time tribal employees, housing executive director Patrick Goggles said.
"We all realize this is a project for the Northern Arapaho children," he said. "And it's a service that currently isn't (available) on the reservation."
The center will also provide preschool education and after school programs.
A general council push earlier this month to fire the casino's chief executive officer Jim Conrad and assistant manager Andi Clifford didn't seem to affect the plan for the child care center.
"Hopefully, the vote the general council took is separate from that matter," Goggles said.
Conrad and Clifford previously voiced their support for the center.
"A large majority of our employees choose to resign or quit due to a lack of having good, reliable dayc are services for their children," Clifford said in an interview in March.
"This day care will be a huge benefit for the working population."
Goggles said child care services are indeed needed by tribal members, many whom qualify for federal subsidies for child care.
"We want to capture those funds that are available," he said
Tribal members, preferably casino employees, will be encouraged to enroll their children at the child care center. Spaces won't be limited to tribal families, however, as the project is using federal funds, Goggles pointed out.
"It will be able to house as many 273 children at maximum capacity," he said.
The tribe regularly applies for and is granted money through Indian Community Development Block Grants as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This time around, Goggles said tribal leaders targeted $1.1 million from HUD and an additional $2.5 million loan for a total of $3.6 million to go toward the child care center project.
Goggles met with the Northern Arapaho Business Council on Tuesday to proceed with signing a resolution in support of the funding.
A timeline has been established related to securing a loan, releasing the bid, advertising for a general contractor, and determining a start date.
Goggles anticipates starting construction next year; he said architects have completed preliminary plans and specifications for the project.
During the general council meeting, Goggles provided a presentation and answered questions from local tribal members.
He said there were questions about the location of the center, with people wondering why the facility wouldn't be located in the building that is already in place across from the casino.
That building, which was constructed by the tribe to provide intake services for juveniles, isn't currently being used.
Goggles said the tribe has already completed the engineering work at the proposed child care center site, including the creation of a water and waste water design.
That work will allow the tribe to move ahead on those portions of the project, he said.
"We will meet with all the vendors and utility companies and indicate where things will be," he said.
Others asked if the project was really viable for the tribe. Goggles responded that the Arapaho housing department has done its due diligence with HUD. In the grant application, the tribe attached its business plan, which showed the enterprise to be profitable, Goggles added.
The tribe will benefit from the construction itself, he continued, as tribal members will have the opportunity to be employed for the project under the TERO ordinance.