Communities throughout county receive tribal grants
STANDISH TWP. — The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe gave away its 2-percent gaming revenue grants Nov. 20 at the Tribal Center in Standish Township, with the county, schools, cities and Standish Township itself being awarded the largest amounts.
Tribal Chief Dennis Kequom thanked the community for its support of the tribe and its casino, which in turns finances the 2-percent grants.
“We appreciate the gratitude that the community shows the tribe, and this is a small way of giving back,” Kequom said.
Tribe spokesman Frank Cloutier said the casino’s revenue has raised approximately $263,000 from the same time last year, which he believes is a sign that the economy is strengthening.
“We hope the numbers are a reflecting of a bright future,” Cloutier said.
Arenac County received $40,000 for a 911 system upgrade and $29,000 to help clean the Standish B drain, and an additional $2,679 for a “welcoming streetscape.” County Commissioner Joe Sancimino accepted the grants, and said that he believed a rising tide lifts all boats.
He added it was interesting that the grants were awarded the week of Thanksgiving, which he said was the first time Native Americans and the pilgrims got together to do something mutually beneficial for both groups.
The city of Au Gres, in conjunction with Au Gres Township, received a $30,000 grant to work on the boundary roads around the city limits, which would help residents of both communities get around.
Standish sought grant money to help with work along Industrial Drive in the city near the fire department, and received $20,000 to go toward the project. City Manager Curt Hillman said he expected work to get started on Nov. 26, and that the money would certainly help.
A long-sought playground equipment grant finally made its way to Omer, as the city received $19,780 to purchase new playground equipment. An emotional Mayor Alice Sproule said the tribe had helped the city purchase a fence for its park to keep kids out of the street, but the city only had a couple pieces of playground equipment.
“I’ve written this grant over and over for new playground equipment, and I got it this time,” Sproule said. “I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited.
“To the tribe, thank you so much for what you’ve done for our children.”
Pinconning got $7,800 to continue work on a new furnace system at city hall, and an additional $5,227 for police equipment, including weapons and bulletproof vests.
All townships received $1,500 in general allocation funds, while some received grants for specific projects.
Standish Township received grant money for two projects: $100,000 for the continued road work on Sagatoo Road, and an additional $20,000 jointly with Lincoln Township for work on the Budd Drain, which has not been cleaned since 1928 due to it running through Arenac and Bay counties — a situation that has previously lead to a lot of red tape.
Pinconning Township received the next largest amount from the tribe, with $50,000 earmarked for a watermain extension along M-13 to Worth Road. Supervisor Sharon Stalsberg said the township and the tribe were interested in linking property along the road with the water system in the township, as it would be good for development.
Lincoln Township got a $45,000 grant to put toward the ballfields being constructed in the township park by the Standish-Sterling Youth Sports Organization. The group intends on having six ball diamonds ultimately put in the park, but each costs approximately $23,000, according to Cloutier.
“It’s one small step for Standish-Sterling baseball,” Supervisor David Hertzberg said. “It will be a big deal for the community.”
Whitney Township had $18,182 to go toward the Whitney Township Park. Incoming Clerk Kim Anderson accepted the grant, thanking the tribe for its donation.
The Sterling Cemetery at Deep River Township received $16,800 for needed repair work on the road there and to secure the cemetery grounds. Deep River Trustee JoAnn Swartz gave a tearful address to the tribal council to thank them for their help with the township’s playground in the past and their assistance with local ancestors now, especially since, without a road millage, the township could not afford to do the work by itself.
“I’m so thankful for all the things that you’ve done,” Swartz said. “Every time I go by that playground I see kids on it.”
Turner Township received $15,000 for its continuing road graveling projects. Supervisor Herbert Keeley said all of the money the township has received from the tribe has been earmarked for road graveling and ditching, and so far it has been able to work on seven miles of roads within its borders — some of which have gone more than 30 years without work.
“It’s unfortunate that our county road commission does not have the budget to take care of the roads like it needs to,” Keeley said.
Mason Township’s park pavilion received $9,200 for work, while Arenac Township received grants for three fire department projects: $2,747 for a mini pumper payment, $3,480 for structural firefighting gear, and $2,083 for general firefighting gear.
Sims Township did not get any specific grants, only the general allocation.