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Council Meets In Day-Long Session

By Peter B. Gallagher

HOLLYWOOD - The Seminole Tribal Council met in full session, July 9 to hear department reports and make decisions on 48 resolutions, several tabled items and membership.

Council began the day-long session by grant-ing the authority to Chairman James E. Billie to negotiate the sale of the current Tribal jet airplane and the $31 million purchase of a replacement jet to head the fleet of air vehicles in the active Tribal Aviation Department.

Chief Financial officer Ted Boyd reported to the Council on current auditing activities in the Tribal Accounting Department, including the hiring of new key employees, adaptations to the new Tribal computer system, and progress of audits required by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). Boyd gave a positive report on Tribal cash flow and current budget management.

Boyd also reported that his heart surgery would take place "within six months."

Education Director Willie Johns opened a discussion about the need for a certified speech pathologist at Ahfachkee Indian School on the Big Cypress reservation. Two students have been identified as requiring such a service. According to Rhondele McMonagle, "It has been difficult to find speech pathologists to come all the way out to Big Cypress. There is such a need for them all over the country." Council tabled any decision on hiring a pathologist until further investigation is completed.

A resolution was passed authorizing David Blackard and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum to apply for a grant from the Florida Dept. of State Division of Historical resources to develop an exhibition about the Seminole Wars.

Realty Director George Johnson presented several resolutions to the Council, including several homesite leases, a license agreement between Hollywood Mobile Estates Ltd. and First Union National Bank to provide a banking facility for residents, and revocable permits to Jim Osceola to sell cigars and other items on the Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa reservations; Randalls Wax Works for 750 beehives on Big Cypress, the Seminole Tribe to sell rocks by the trailer load; Glenn E. Osceola to operate a small feed store/snack bar on Big Cypress; to Hartwell's Auto Detailer to operate on Brighton; and Frank Huff, Jr. to open a snack shop on Brighton.

Johnson also complained about a small advertising teaser on the front page of the Seminole Tribune referring to the rock music band Phish, which had expressed an interest in using Seminole lands as a concert site."We agreed not to discuss this matter publicly," said Johnson. Chairman Billie said that he had not authorized the mention.

Chairman Billie directed Administration Director Chris O'Donnell to plan a party at the Native Village for Tribal Employment and Training Director Maureen Vass.

A lengthy discussion ensued regarding Tribal plans for elderly care facilities with Housing Director Joel Frank and Health Director Connie Whidden answering Councilmen's questions. Frank explained that the first facility would probably be built in Brighton, "then Big Cypress and Hollywood. Landwise, we are just about locked in over in Hollywood."

Whidden reported that there are currently 10 Tribal members being cared for off reservation in nursing homes, including one person on a feeding tube in Lake Placid. "If you live to be 90 years old and don't know where you are at and are constantly in and out of the hospital, do you want those people in a nursing home 25 miles away?"

"We have people on the reservation who are not able to take care of themselves but are not nursing home qualifiers," added Whidden, who is a strong supporter of building the Tribal elderly care facilities.

Chairman Billie requested that the elderly care facility projects be considered a priority. "If Lois Smith gets there," joked the Chairman. "Put in some gopher holes and get a hog pen."

Ahfachkee principal Dr. Patrick Gaffney discussed the revised salary schedule for instructional personnel at the Big Cypress school, which handles elementary, junior high and high school students. "It makes us competitive with other school districts, since Ahfachkee is its own school district," said Dr. Gaffney, prior to Council passing the resolution.

Water Resources Director Craig Tepper brought several resolution before the Council, including an agreement with Blue Top Construction to construct wetlands reserve projects on the Jack Motlow and James Billie cattle pastures, a grant application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for $110,790 to support two positions in the Tribal water resources deptartment, a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Dept of Agriculture to provide assistance for resource management system planning in Big Cypress and Brighton (to clean up and remove from the Red Barn the old dripping vat chemicals), a service agreement with Environmental Consulting Services, Inc., a grant application to the EPA for for Brownfields Assessment work and a memorandum of agreement with the South Florida Water Management District to construct a managed wetland demonstration pro-ject on Big Cypress to look at low dose chemical injection runoff and lower nutrient discharge from Tribal agricultural lands.

In other actions, the Council passed an appellate oversight to the Tribal Worker's Compensation plan; put nine people on regular "benefit" employment status. and discussed saw palmetto harvesting proposals that have come to the desk of Acting Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Superintendent Joe Frank.

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