Much needed facility
The chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes says the Law Enforcement Center and Tribal Court building under construction in New Town is a significant project in providing protection for the Fort Berthold Reservation and its people.
“Historically, our law enforcement and judicial services have always been in need of a new facility, for the past 60 years,” said Mark Fox.
“With the advent of oil and gas production on Fort Berthold, the significant rise in crime and the need for further protection has become critical. The development of the new Law Enforcement Center and Courthouse will be a significant step in protecting our reservation communities and people,” Fox said.
“The project is rolling along nicely,” said Fox of the building construction. He said he began the actual planning and development for it about three years before he became chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, but it did not move forward until the tribal business council committed to the funding of the project after he became chairman. He said some minimal and conceptual planning took place about 10 years ago when he was the administrator of the Gerald “Tex” Fox Justice Center, not far from the new building.
The total cost of construction for the new building will be in the $16-17 million range when completed, Fox said.
“The operation and maintenance costs after completion will be a combination of federal and tribal funds, with hopes of securing alternative and supplemental resources as well,” Fox said.
Construction of the new Law Enforcement Center and Tribal Court building began several months ago and the building shell is nearly enclosed, said Randy Lindemann of the Nelson-Tremain Partnership, an architectural firm in Minneapolis, and who is originally from Minot.
Lindemann designed the new Law Enforcement Center and Tribal Courts project, which is phase two of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ Justice Center Complex on the east side of New Town. He also was the architect for the Gerald “Tex” Fox Justice Center project.
The contractor for the new building is Capital City Construction of Bismarck.
When the approximately 30,000-square-foot building is completed, law enforcement and Tribal Court will move from other facilities to the new building.
“It’s law enforcement on one side and courts on the other,” Lindemann said. “There are two large courtrooms, one of them is a jury courtroom and the other is a special proceedings courtroom.” There’s also a reconciliation courtroom justice in the round for working out disputes.
He said the law enforcement side includes a combat training room for physical combat training and a 9-1-1 center with six dispatch stations.
There will be holding cells in the Law Enforcement Center. “They have the ability to hold people temporarily without putting them in the jail,” he said. The jail Gerald “Tex” Fox Justice Center is located across the street from the new building.
“We put in a drive-through garage on this facility so if they have somebody in custody in a squad car, they can drive inside the building and put the detainee in a short-term holding cell,” Lindemann said. He said this type of feature is becoming very common for facilities like this.
On reservations, these type of cells are often used for non-Indians who have been arrested and are held until jurisdiction is determined as well as for status offenders.
A mural on the building’s exterior will depict a “protecting the herd” concept, Lindemann said. The artwork for the mural is being done by Dennis Fox, an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The casting is being done by a Billings, Mont., company.
The glass in the reconciliation courtroom will have murals of famous native American photographs and paintings.
Ceilings in both courtrooms will have a traditional star blanket, Lindemann said.
The project has extensive heavy structural timber. He said they tried to pick wood species like those used for building earthlodges. A company in Washington state is doing the fabrication.
The building will be completely geothermal. Sixty geothermal wells on the property will provide the heating and cooling.
Lindemann has been doing projects in Indian Country for 25 years and is currently working on similar projects for the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and the Santee Sioux Tribe in Nebraska.
The new Law Enforcement Center and Tribal Courts building on Fort Berthold is scheduled for completion in early 2017, Lindemann said.