NEW TOWN The Three Affiliated Tribes can move ahead with building a new health-care facility on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
The $17 million for the construction of the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center is in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act which President Barack Obama signed last week.
"We're ecstatic," said Jim Foote, project manager for the Elbowoods Memorial Health Center. "Perseverance is the key. This council didn't give up. Chairman (Marcus) Levings and the council's main priority are health care. They worked together, submitted proposals to the congressional delegation...."
"It's just historic," Foote said.
Foote said there have been authorizations in the past for the funding, but the money was not appropriated.
On Monday, Foote was scheduled to give his regular update on the health center project to the tribal business council. He said it would be a "good news" day for the tribe.
Levings, in a news release, thanked North Dakota's congressional delegation Senators Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and Rep. Earl Pomeroy for their "determination, commitment and hard work" to ensure the funding was included in the act.
"My thoughts and those of the entire tribal council are with the many members of the tribe who are no longer with us and with our elders who fought for this facility over the past 60 years."
This past September the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $1.48 million contract to HDR Architecture of Denver to launch the design phase to build the new health-care center. Ninety percent of the design is scheduled for completion in late May.
The health-care center will be built on 120-acres that the tribe owns north of Fort Berthold Community College in New Town. The acreage allows for expansion, Foote said.
The new health-care facility replaces the existing Minne-Tohe Health Center west of New Town which was built in the 1960s as an outpatient clinic and is the main medical facility for the reservation. The facility is being named to commemorate the hospital that once operated in the community of Elbowoods.
This first phase of the health center project includes hiring additional staff members and Fort Berthold Community College will help with training, Foote said.
The bid opening and awarding the bid for construction of the new facility is scheduled for late June. The facility is scheduled for opening in early 2011.