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2014-06-05 / Front Page

OST passes nursing home measures in time for construction season

PINE RIDGE – Wednesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council met in Pine Ridge to wrap up both the April and May regular sessions; after lengthy discussions, the council voted 11-1-4 to approve a loan of up to $13.5 million from Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community to build a 48,100 square foot, 60 bed nursing home south of Whiteclay, Neb.; voted 11-5 to approve the management contract; voted 11-4 approving an arbitration process and 11-5 amending assignment agencies.

The council voted 14-0 to appoint for 45 days associate judge Charles Montileaux as an interim replacement for chief judge Mary Wynne who has been suspended; voted 12-4 to require each of the district community development corporations to provide a comprehensive financial accounting to the tribal council and 16-0 to brecommend Alan Davis as the permanent CEO of the hospital in Pine Ridge,

An amendment was proposed to the ordinance that created the tribe’s legal department to allow the attorneys to better serve the tribal council – the attorneys focus on work for the council but are asked to do litigation on the side and program directors, executive board members and individuals approach the attorneys for legal advice creating an overload, an amendment giving council work the top priority passed 11-4-1 after ba long discussion and an executive session.

After tribal treasurer, Mason Big Crow, stated that the general fund budget could handle a $286,720 request from the tribe’s Historical Preservation Office, the council voted 16-1 to approve the THPO budget.

Tribal secretary, Rhonda Two Eagle reported that four individuals, Francis Pumpkin Seed, Kathy Janis, Annette Eagle Bull and Phyllis Hollow Horn had submitted letters of interest in the OST Election Commission; the council voted 11-3 to extend the application time period for an additional two weeks. The commission serves two years and will oversee the 2014 tribal election. Currently Francis Pumpkin Seed, Sandra Old Horse and Kathy Janis serve on the commission; Ila Lone Hill had been on the commission but resigned this past fall and was replaced by Janis.

With a 16-0 vote, the council changed the name of the joint venture Wanbli Air Ambulance to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Air Rescue(OSTAR) and approved the process of appointing a board of directors.

“The formation of a holding company is a planning stage, gives us time to plan,” said Stanley Little White Man, council representative from Medicine Root district.

Citing actions taken to disrupt the transition of LOWO to the new Child Services Agency, the council voted 14-1 to terminate the LOWO director Emily Iron Cloud Koenen and Roxanne Two Bulls and end the contract for legal services with attorney Eric Lochen and advocate Shane Thin Elk. Earlier this year, the council voted to rescind the charter of LOWO and established a 90 day transition period to combine services of LOWO and ONTRAC into one overall child services agency for the tribe. The council then voted 9-6 to put ONTRAC director Juanita Scherich into the overall director of the child services agency until the position is advertised and a permanent director is hired. Motion to approve an agreement between the OST and the state for child care monies passed 15-0.

Following a good deal of discussion about the move from Indian Health Service to a Title V Self Governance operation of the hospital in Pine Ridge, the council voted 12- 2-1 to extend the contract of Bill Pourier through November of 2014 to research and write all necessary paperwork for Title V. It’s hard for me to say health care and IHS in the same sentence, added Craig Dillon; we need someone who can do this full time, not someone who works fulltime for the casino as well, commented Larry Eagle Bull while Dani LeBeau stated strongly, our people need better health care, we started on this track to make serious changes and we can’t stop the process before we’re done, it’s too important.

A resolution by Ruth Brown to bring the final plan to a referendum vote failed six for and nine against.

A resolution to approve the low bid for construction of a tribal store in Wounded Knee made by J. Scull Construction Services was eventually tabled 9-4-2; concern was expressed that the tribe’s procurement procedures weren’t followed, in particular the requirement of advertising bids for 30 days and informing TERO of the request for bids. Scull’s bid was $1,118,241; RJ Shangreaux was the only other firm to submit a bid. A resolution to re-advertise for 30 days, give formal notice to TERO and have contractors present for bid opening passed 14-1.

At the last council meeting a two thirds resolution passed to put the issue of Dave Kelly, terminated director of the tribe’s transportation department, on the agenda – after a good deal of discussion, the council voted 7-5 with two abstentions to re-instate Kelly as transportation director with back pay. Lydia Bear Killer and James Cross cited a failed tribal grievance process, Kelly had been terminated in November, it was almost June and the process still wasn’t completed. Dr. Richard Zephier, OST executive director stated that the process had been slow, that both sides had cancelled hearings and the administrative law judge had been ill, had submitted a resignation then withdrew it, a number of extenuating circumstances had contributed to the length of the process. Stanley Little White Man’s resolution to hire an administrative law judge for the grievance process from outside the reservation passed 13-1.

The council voted 15-0 to prohibit the Lakota People’s Legal Project from representing the tribe in any way whether filing suit against the state, raising money to fight illegal child care practices by the state or lobby in the tribe’s name; voted 15-0 to extend the cooperative agreement with the Bureau’s Cobell settlement land but back program; 15-0 to approve the appointment of Arlyn Whirlwind Horse to represent Medicine Root district on the board of the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority; voted 14-1 to approve the tribe’s $85,640 proposal to the Intertribal Bison Council herd development grant program.

Directed by Medicine Root council representative Bernie Shot With Arrow, the council honored Betty Robertson, Billy Clifford, Donna Bull Bear Garnette, Vincent Black Feather, Wilbur Witte, Karen Red Star, Theresa Mendoza, Faye Loafer, Connie Whirlwind Horse, Guy Dull Knife, Adam White Eyes and Marvin Helper.

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