CARNEGIE — With $26 million in emergency assistance money due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kiowa Tribe is making progress with projects at the tribal complex.
Things have come a long way since the Dec. 21, 2020, groundbreaking ceremony for the new COVID-19/Senior Activity Center, according to Neely Tsoodle, tribe information officer. Located behind the complex and west of the dance and activity grounds, the vision is quickly becoming reality.
“Today, you can see a construction crew working through the elements, scaffolding towers a portion of the wall that has gone up,” she said. “It’s a 20,000-square foot single-story building that falls under the CARES Act guidelines.”
The structure’s main purpose is to be a center-controlled facility operating as an emergency center, Tsoodle said. The center its staff will be responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparations in the event of emergency conditions that can occur. It will also serve as a short-term fix for housing tribal members under emergency conditions, such as ice storms.
The center will be operated with critical components to carry out actions that are necessary and will be staffed with qualified persons accordingly and depending on situations as they occur, Tsoodle said.
During the times when emergency conditions are not in operation, senior citizens may use the building to gather once the virus has ended.
Construction is expected to be completed in approximately early October or the end of November.
Another structure is ready to roll, according to Tsoodle.
“One structure, we are proud to say is complete, is the new 80 x 40 storage unit located behind the current AOA building on the tribal complex grounds,” she said. “It’s a dry storage building where a large supply of long-shelf-life foods will be purchased and stored for use in the event of crisis or emergency.”
A new fitness center is also nearing completion. Located inside Red Buffalo Hall. It is fully equipped with the latest training gear, Tsoodle said. The need for a healthy community was always important, but more so when the pandemic hit.
“The coronavirus is known for attacking our upper respiratory system,” she said. “With more physical exercise we are less likely to have health problems or letting COVID-19 consume our bodies.”
Two Continuity of Operations (COOP) centers have been purchased in Lawton and Anadarko. These facilities will serve as annexes to the main office in Carnegie during emergency times, according to Tsoodle.
One of the busiest tribe programs is the Tax Commission, which has daily interactions with the public. Tsoodle said much-needed upgrades have been made to safeguard employees and clients. There is now a drive-through for social distancing.
The tribe also purchased a 10 x 12 foot LED marquee as one more tool to communicate with tribal members passing by, Tsoodle said.
Lastly, two automatic security gates have been placed at the entry and exit to safeguard the premises during the pandemic. Tsoodle said in normal times the gates will continue to serve the complex for security reasons.