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Episode Three: Updates with Kurtis 1
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Kurtis Barker, Chief Executive Officer, gives updates about the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

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Andy

Hello everyone, I am Andy Taylor. I’m the public information assistant for the public information department and today we have Kurtis back with us. Welcome, Kurtis.

Kurtis

Good morning.

Andy

So, Kurtis, we are here to discuss more of our updates for the Tribe. That is our goal is to continue to inform our tribal members what we are doing here. So, how are some projects coming along?

Kurtis

Well, good morning, and it’s good to see you again. This is our second podcast, so, it’s exciting to see this moving forward. Projects! So, we have an endless number of projects currently underway, and I think you’ve highlighted some here for me. But the first of those is right in downtown Siletz. You can… Every day I drive by the new pharmacy that we’re going to have and you can see the progress going up on that. The new pharmacy is going to be an exciting addition for downtown Siletz and the Community Health Center. We also have the Lincoln City satellite clinic, which is currently under construction and remodel. And if you’re not aware of where that is, the new Lincoln City clinic is going to be just before you get to the outlet malls on the left hand side as you’re traveling north, like if you’re heading to the casino.

Andy

Okay.

Kurtis

And both of those projects are progressing nicely. I believe they’re slated for completion in September or possibly early October.

Andy

That’s awesome. And that’s for members who live in the Lincoln City area or maybe a little farther north, that so they can have easier access to the health care that we provide just instead of coming all the way to Siletz?

Kurtis

Exactly. And there might be availability to serve non-tribal members with the Lincoln City clinic currently working on our staffing plan, and our forecasted budgets. But it’s also going to be available for employees of the casino resort.

Andy

Oh, oh that’s awesome. And at the Lincoln City clinic, do you guys know what services you’re projecting there? For instance, we have at our clinic here, we have mental health, we have dental, vision, regular you know, PCP care.

Kurtis

The services that we’re going to offer, first, and that’s going to be medical, dental and behavioral health.

Andy

Those are the priorities immediately and then grow and expand with time.

Kurtis

Hopefully. there’s only so much space in that building, but we’re really testing out what the demand is going to be in that area before we reevaluate to see if other services would be needed in that location.

Andy

And is there anything still moving forward with the Salem construction project?

Kurtis

There is actually. At this last Tribal Council meeting, the Tribal Council approved two contracts. We put the project out to bid. This is the Salem housing development. it’s going to have, I believe, 38 or 39 housing units, a community center that has offices and a maintenance shed. And we split that project up into two different, like two separate projects so that smaller companies would have an opportunity to bid on that project and they awarded the contract at the last council meeting. So, those contracts have been signed and the contractor is ready to start. You can expect to see more activity in the Salem area here in the next month.

Andy

I like that you guys did that. I don’t know whose idea that was, but I think that when smaller companies can do parts of the job, but they can’t take on a mega job and it supports local contractors and apprenticeships that need to be funded, they need to work.

Kurtis

The goal is to hopefully attract some native owned businesses as well, which tend not to be as large, that was the goal. I don’t believe we were able to secure a native owned business for this project, but they anticipate that project taking 12 months. So this time next year we should have a ribbon cutting for 39 more units in Salem.

Andy

And then what about the construction that’s happening up Government Hill with STAHS and the museum and anything else that they’re doing up there?

Kurtis

That project is also moving along, pretty nicely. We did hit a little bit of a roadblock. Had to extend our timeline on that contract for a little bit. I think they hit, like a water main or something like that. That had to be repaired. But, this is phase two of the museum construction project, which is realigning the road and adding a parking lot in front of the Veterans Memorial but that project is moving along. We just got an update from one of our contractors. A phase three is progressing, and that project for the actual construction of the museum should go out in June. And then they’ll go through a bidding process, bidding timeline and review and we hope to award the contract for that in August.

Andy

Will it be done by powwow? How’s the powwow going to work up there on Government Hill with all of the construction and the road work happening?

Kurtis

We’re still going to have to review what that looks like. I think we have time to figure out if there’s going to be a transition phase from the road construction phasing out to when the construction of the actual museum will start. I don’t think we’ll actually see construction of the museum probably until late fall into early winter, so there could be a time period this summer where the road construction ends, and then we start construction later on in the year.

Andy

Right. It’ll just be on pause until after powwow, probably.

Kurtis

Yeah. We have several events coming up this Memorial Day, that event. We have culture camp in July, Powwow in August, and there’s events usually up there several times throughout the month.

Andy

Just working around it then.

Kurtis

Yeah, we’re coordinating with the contractor to ensure that access to that facility and the Powwow grounds will be available.

Andy

Alright, so on the last podcast we discussed recruiting Human Resources staffing and creating stability in our management. How’s that coming along?

Kurtis

That’s coming along very well. The Human Resources department has been very busy the last month. Just some highlights from that: we just had our Portland area office supervisor start.

Andy

That’s correct, on Monday.

Kurtis

Monday this week. Priscilla Gomez, we’re really happy to have her on board. We’ve made an offer and we have a start date for the new Salem area office supervisor, that person will be starting on May 6th. We also have extended an offer for the Elders Council coordinator. That position has been vacant for quite some time. We also have the new self-governance and budget director starting next Wednesday.

Andy

And where is that going to be?

Kurtis

That’s going to be here in central administration. So yeah, we’re not releasing the name just yet until it’s announced publicly internally. But yeah, we have somebody internally that’s accepted that position. We’re really excited to have them on board. They’ll be housed here within the administration working closely with accounting and all of our programs. We also have updates on, we did hire an assistant health director, Forrest Pearson, who was the business office manager, is now, the assistant health director. It’s a much needed position at the health department. And then we also have a new HR director that will be starting, and a social and human services director starting on May 13th.

Andy

So, we are moving. We’re getting things- the ball rolling.

Kurtis

We are. We are onboarding a lot of positions.

Andy

Good.

Kurtis

Yeah that’s exciting.

Andy

That is exciting. Some much needed positions that services were just overwhelmed. The staff that was there.

Kurtis

Yeah. There’s a lot of staff doing double duty, a lot of people retiring, moving to other positions. We’ve got a lot of shifting around. So right now we’re just trying to onboard these key positions and hopefully stabilize some of our departments.

Andy

That’s a good goal, that’s a really good goal. We also have the General Council meeting coming up. It is in two weeks.

Kurtis

We do. So, we have our quarterly health housing meeting in the morning and then the General Council meeting in the afternoon. And this month’s program is 477 and home visiting, which we just had the self-sufficiency program director or manager retire yesterday. So I’ll be presenting that program since I’ve worked within that program and know it like the back of my hand.

Andy

As discussed in the last podcast that everyone should listen to.

Kurtis

Yes. I’m going to have a presentation up there regarding self-sufficiency. They have some exciting changes coming up, with their new program plan for the next three years. And that plan is going to be posted to the website starting on May 1st for tribal member and public comment. But we’re going to make some changes, proposed changes to that program.

Andy

All right. So if everybody attends that, whether it’s virtually or in person, they can know what those are and get, you know, ask questions and follow up.

Kurtis

Yeah. We’ll have information provided. And then, the plan will be posted on the website with track changes. You can see what the changes are and propose any amendments. Or, if you have questions, we can provide that information to the membership.

Andy

All right. And that is on May 4th at 1 p.m.

Kurtis

Yes.

Andy

Okay. And the volunteer opportunities we have coming up, I, I’m only aware immediately of the elder’s woodcut. What do you know of?

Kurtis

That’s probably the biggest one and the highest priority, is every, as we go into fall and winter, we have a huge spike in the need. The elders have a need for wood. Not just in Siletz, but in the Portland, Salem and Eugene areas. And so throughout spring and all through summer we host various elders wood cuts that do not draw the attention of volunteers. It’s been said many times, it’s the elders that show up cutting wood for the elders. And so we’re really trying to get the word out, and encourage our youth and those that are capable of showing up on May 18th, out by the USDA building, to assist in cutting wood. They’re providing snacks, pizza, drinks.

Andy

Oh, yeah. There’s a whole pop up tent of goodies there for you to help yourself to throughout the day.

Kurtis

So, yeah, that’s, that’s the huge priorities we need. We need volunteers to assist with those events.

Andy

Right. And for anyone curious, I’ve done the elders wood cut many times. It’s not as hard as I thought it was going to be the first time I showed up. There’s actually only a couple people that are authorized to actually use the wood splitter, and if you are capable of using an ax, then you are welcome to chop wood that way manually. But there are wood splitters. The main thing is just moving wood from the people who are using the wood splitter into a truck and loading it into the truck. It’s a back and forth motion, and you don’t have to carry more than you can carry. Bring gloves. That’s the main thing.

Kurtis

It sounds like it’s pretty intense, but really the natural resources department goes out the day or two before to really cut, cut the logs up so that they’re ready for the crews that show up to volunteer. So you’re not waiting for people to, to cut trees or, we’re not asking anybody to cut trees. That stuff is already prepped for everybody. The wood splitters are all hydraulically used, so, yeah, it’s really just loading trucks and helping deliver wood to the elders that have signed up for it.

Andy

People are just chopping it. And then you just basically stack it, I’ve spent many hours just back and forth between truck beds.

Kurtis

Yeah. And if there’s elders that are in need, then contact the elders department to get on a list. A delivery list. And then we try to make sure that everybody gets some.

Andy

At least served in some way, yes. And then events coming up, you’ve already talked about culture camp, but the next closest one is a month away, and that is run to the rogue.

Kurtis

Yes. the culture department is gearing up for run of the rogue. Just signed off on all of the permits this week, I believe, so no forecasted fires or extreme weather that we’re aware of. So we are on schedule to have our first run of the rogue since before Covid.

Andy

Yeah, because the fire shut it down. I don’t remember when the last..I think it was 2018?

Kurtis

I think we had two of them shut down for Covid and then two of them canceled for fires.

Andy

That’s right. All right, and then we have the original first mile as a group walk. What time does that start?

Kurtis

I believe that starts at 8:30 and run to the rogue is that Friday, which is..is that May 31st? Yes. signups start at eight. They do an orientation at the community center. We’re still gonna probably coordinate with the contractor to ensure that everybody can make it up on the hill with all the construction, and that the Head Start group can still do that first mile starting from the community center down to the administration. So we will provide some updates on that and clarification if that’s still a go. We might have to make an alteration to that if the conditions aren’t ideal. But, yeah, sign-ups for the rogue are the 31st at 8 a.m. and then they’ll do an orientation and it should start around 8:30.

Andy

So watch the ctsi.gov Facebook for announcements on that coming up.

Kurtis

Yeah. The Facebook page is a really good place for immediate updates and we should be posting updates on our website as well.

Andy

And the last thing I have on our agenda is highlights from maybe mayors’ meetings or the Tribal Council meetings that we, you would like to make sure that members know about.

Kurtis

So we had a council meeting on the 17th, our regular council meeting. Not too many significant highlights to cover. We did propose and have approved a new organizational chart for the organization that we are posting to the website as well, and it should be posted on the contact page. So if anybody’s interested in seeing how the organization is structured, the new org chart will be posted there. And we’ve had ongoing conversations regarding restructuring the natural resources department because our long time employee, Mike Kennedy, is going to be retiring this summer. He’s been here, I believe, for 37 or 38 years.

Andy

I think it’s been at least more than 35. I remember him getting an award for that. Yeah.

Kurtis

So, we are looking at restructuring that department because it’s a big job and it’s hard to recruit for positions when somebody has been in that position for so long. We tend to add programs and duties and responsibilities to existing positions. And then when that person leaves, we have difficulty in recruiting to fill those positions. So we have proposed and have some ideas for restructuring that department and had that conversation at the council meeting. I also mentioned we approved two contracts for the Salem Housing Development Project.

Andy

And what are those contracts?

Kurtis

Those are the actual construction contracts. So, those of you that are familiar with and have been by the Salem area have already seen the infrastructure development. So that’s putting in all the sewer lines and water lines, the roads, we’re doing fiber optic cable, I believe. So all of that stuff that goes under the ground is being done right now. And so, what we just approved was the construction contracts for the actual homes and community center. In addition, at the council meeting, the administration is applying for two separate broadband grants that we hope to be funded. but it will be some time before we hear word on those. We had some additional STAHS board appointments. So the STAHS board is expanding and I believe the council approved Sharon Edenfield, Tammy Richardson and Wiley Stokes to the STAHS board. We look forward to working with them on the administration side because they do a lot of fundraising still for the museum. And they do keep the STAHS committee or board involved in the latest developments of the museum construction project. And then the council also approved five amendments to five different ordinances that we have. Minor changes, mostly grammatical and formatting issues. But if the membership is interested, those changes will be posted to the website, probably before the end of April.

Andy

Okay. And that’s going to be on the Tribal Council, I presume. Section.

Kurtis

Yeah. It’s in, no, it’s in the public sections.

Andy

Oh, it’s going to be in the public. Okay.

Kurtis

So all of our ordinances are open and available to the public facing side of the website. And that’s pretty much the highlights of the council meeting. But again, the minutes should be posted pretty soon. And the resolutions that were passed are also available in the tribal member section of the website.

Andy

Awesome. And is there anything that you want to encourage our tribal members to do? Before we wrap it up?

Kurtis

I would just encourage the membership to review our Facebook pages, the official Facebook pages, for the latest updates on all of our events. That’s where it provides the most accurate information on what we’re doing. And then we also have separate Facebook pages for the health clinic, our youth programs, the administration, also the area offices have their own official Facebook pages specific to their areas. So if you’re really looking for the latest information on events, times, or just sort of what we’re doing, that’s the place to find it.

Andy

You can also find the CTSI calendar in the Siletz News dropdown. It has a calendar. There’s one for youth calendar, and then there’s one that just says CTSI calendar and that has meetings. Whether it’s housing enrollment, the health committee meetings, it has when the tribal council meetings are deadlines, for say, Siletz News and the local newsletters. It’s got a lot of good information on there.

Kurtis

Yes. Because we, we see posted a lot on, on non-official pages asking “is this event still happening?” or “what’s going on with that event?” so yeah, if you’re really looking for the most official and up to date information, the website and our Facebook pages are the best places to look.

Andy

Yeah, I use it. I actually use the website a lot.

Kurtis

Yeah, I do too.

Andy

And it’s helpful.

Kurtis

And I work here, so yeah.

Andy

All right. Well that concludes our show today and I hope that everyone has a great day. Thank you so much, Kurtis.

Kurtis

Thank you and have a good weekend.