Cherokee officials break ground for new Belfonte Community Center

Cherokee Nation Councilman Daryl Legg said he could not be more excited about Cherokee Nation’s plan to launch $25 million in new construction projects for community buildings including the groundbreaking held Tuesday for the one in Belfonte Community.

Legg, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner, and other Cherokee Nation tribal officials took part in the groundbreaking which will replace the old community center built in 1976.

“We’re excited because the old one has its issues in the way of repairs. The new one will be much larger with more space adequate for social distancing and plenty of storage and freezer space. It can also serve as a shelter in the event of a tornado warning and will be located at the same location as the old one off of U.S. Highway 101,” Legg said.

“I appreciate all the efforts by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner for making this possible through the Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan. If we’re ever faced with another emergency, we will be more adequate to handle it with a new facility for the Belfonte Community. They will get plenty of good use out of this.”

Although not confirmed, Legg said there are talks the new building will be named after the late Sallie Byrd Sevenstar who served as a matriarch in the Belfonte Community, Legg said. Sevenstar died recently reportedly after complications from COVID-19, according to friends and family from the community.

“We started a vision of getting a new building a few years ago. It’s just exciting that vision will become a reality sooner than we planned with the help from the Cherokee Nation. We’re just very thankful to them and I believe this is just the beginning of many more great things to happen for the Belfonte Community,” Sammy Ea gle, president of the Rural Communities Initiatives Foundation (RCIF) of Belfonte, said.

Cherokee Nation tribal officials announced this week of groundbreaking scheduled in nine building projects in response to COVID-19. Projects range from PPE manufacturing, space for social distancing and food outreach to a new employee health care facility.

The 4,000 sq. ft. buildings and four remodels are part of the tribe’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan.

The estimated $25 million in construction will feature a new health center for Cherokee Nation employees in Tahlequah, a drive through public health outreach facility in Stilwell, PPE manufacturing sites in Hulbert and Stilwell, office space for social distancing in Catoosa and Muskogee, and storage and food outreach space in Vinita, Kansas, Belfonte and Jay.

“The Cherokee Nation is putting our CARES Act funding from the U.S. Treasury to great use in our Cherokee communities by investing in this $25 million project that will provide jobs and ongoing needed safety equipment,” Hoskin said.

“It will also ensure our elders do not struggle with food insecurity through this pandemic, add space for employee safety and provide a new health center for our Cherokee Nation employees that is close to our tribal complex and can treat for a range of illness as well as test for COVID-19.”

Groundbreakings in ad dition to Belfonte Tuesday included Tahlequah, Stilwell, Kansas, Jay Vinita, Catoosa, Muskogee and Hulbert. Groundbreakings at the remaining sites in Pryor, Stilwell and Vinita will be held at a later date, Cherokee tribal officials stated.

Sequoyah County Times

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