Tribe distributes more than $680,000 to governments, schools
STANDISH TWP. — Representatives of many local governments, fire departments and school districts left the Saganing Tribal Center with checks in their hands after the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe’s 2-percent revenue distribution Nov. 22.
The tribe doled out $484,684 to units of government and fire departments in Arenac and northern Bay counties, and $202,811 to area school districts.
Arenac County as a unit of government received $245,269, including $78,000 for digital mapping and drain verification, $77,269 for bridge repairs on Sagatoo Road and $50,000 for a Saginaw Bay Imperiled Lake Plain Prairie Habitat Project. The county also received $20,000 for 23rd Circuit Court costs and $20,000 for food pantries and mobile food panties.
County Commissioner Jeff Trombley accepted the tribe’s allocation on behalf of the county, and requested that the Tribal Council continue to lend a hand to the county.
“I’d encourage you to help Arenac County anyway you can,” he said. “The last thing we need in Arenac County is another business with its doors closed.”
A request made by the Village of Twining for funds to build an addition to the Twining-Mason-Turner fire barn was approved, as the village received $49,900 for the building project. Village President Todd Forshee said the addition would allow the fire department to keep all of its equipment in the fire barn. It currently stores some in a different building owned by the village, Forshee said.
“This is going to be a very big improvement that we’re going to be able to provide for our fire department,” he said.
For cities in the county, Au Gres received the biggest allocation from the tribe, as the city was granted $30,000 to make improvements to boundary streets in the city.
The city of Omer was granted $15,697, which will be used for swings at the park, a payment on an Omer-Arenac Fire Department truck, turnout gear for firefighters and a new mower.
“Our tractor’s probably more than 20 years old,” said Omer Mayor Alice Sproule. “We buy belts and we buy tires and we buy blades and everything.”
Standish received $10,000 for improvements to the Standish Historical Depot and Welcome Center.
“One of the most frequently asked questions we get to our staff at our depot is ‘How do you get to the casino?’” said Standish Mayor Mark Winslow after receiving the grant.
Projects in townships that have been ongoing for several years received funding during the distribution. Turner Township, which has requested funding for gravel each grant cycle received $10,000 to continue buying gravel for the roads. Deep River Township was granted $6,000 to continue cemetery improvements. Lincoln Township was awarded $3,500 to purchase picnic tables and appliances at its baseball complex, and Au Gres Township received an $800 grant for a survey on property donated for the Linwood Cemetery.
Standish Township received a $9,500 grant for sediment sampling in township soils.
The tribe also awarded $1,108 base grants to Arenac, Au Gres, Deep River, Lincoln, Mason, Sims, Standish, Turner and Whitney townships.
In Bay County, an $89,723 grant was accepted by Pinconning Township on behalf of Bay County fire departments, as the funds will be used to buy automated external defibrillators. The city of Pinconning was granted $4,314 for bleachers at the city park.
As for school districts in Arenac County, Arenac Eastern received the largest grant. The tribe awarded $76,875 to AE, which is being set aside for multiple projects, including approximately $29,000 for computer lab and laptop upgrades, and $20,305 for security updates.
Standish-Sterling Community School was approved for $41,773. Like AE, the monies are earmarked for several projects. Some of the district’s appropriations include $15,933 for security and fire alarm upgrades, $5,768 for school bus cameras and $5,000 for Rachel’s Challenge support.
“Nothing that I’ve done in 17 years in education has changed the culture of our community or our building like Rachel’s Challenge,” said Standish-Sterling Middle School Principal Gary Roper.
Au Gres-Sims received a total of $41,148 in grant funds from the tribe. A large portion of the funds — $18,038 — was set aside for interactive smart boards.
Pinconning Area Schools received $43,014 in 2-percent funds, with nearly $20,000 earmarked for video cameras for its bus fleet.
Per a compact with the state government, the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe shares 2 percent of its class 3 gaming revenue with the communities it operates casinos in, as well as nearby communities. The tribe distributes the funds twice annually in May and November.