http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher, center, gets training with his response team regarding the use of the tribe’s new Mobile Command Center earlier this year. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher, center, gets training with his response team regarding the use of the tribe’s new Mobile Command Center earlier this year. COURTESY

Emergency Management now a Type 3 FEMA response team

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/18/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe’s Emergency Management team is now equipped with the expertise and vehicles to respond to a Type 3-level Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster.

Only about 120 entities nationally have attained the Type 3 all-hazard incident management team status, and the CN is among the first tribe to attain it, Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher said.

As defined by FEMA, a Type 3 team can respond within hours to a natural disaster, a public health emergency, a large-scale crash or another crisis within tribal boundaries.

The status also allows the team to remain active and on scene for several days to help coordinate with other agencies to respond to disasters.

“We are one of the first tribal Type 3 All-Hazard Incident Management Teams in the nation,” Fisher said. “Because we have combined our resources from within the Cherokee Nation, we can coordinate on-scene operations after natural disasters like a tornado or flood, or during other emergencies. Our team includes trained personnel from different departments and agencies who have a variety of expertise.”

According to the release, Fisher came to work for the CN from the Oklahoma State Department of Health where he worked as an emergency preparedness and response planner in charge of pandemic outbreak planning, preparedness training and public health response. The tribe’s Emergency Management team also consists of public health, land surveillance, data officials and marshals.

“The Cherokee Nation is a tribe on the forefront of disaster response by having the leadership, training, manpower and equipment in place for emergencies,” Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “We can better serve and protect our Cherokee people during a crisis by having this response team on the ground with an area to operate out of if the need should arise.”

The Emergency Management department uses a new 36-foot mobile command center, which was purchased from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant in the past year.

It is equipped with satellite communications and Wi-Fi. It can be used for drone aerial surveillance, office space to run operations and space to coordinate logistics with other agencies such as Red Cross.

The Mobile Command Center was first used in March when an EF-1 tornado touched down in Greasy in Adair County and destroyed ball fields and a community activity center and did damage to some tribal citizens’ homes. It served as a hub for volunteers to help with clean up, meet with the Red Cross and survey the area.

The U.S. Fire Administration, which officials say currently tracks more than 120 teams total across the country, including the CN, manages FEMA’s Type 3 program. The federal program offers training assistance and a mentorship program for teams seeking Type 3 status.

For more information about Emergency Management or to download emergency preparedness tips, visit http://www.cherokee.org/Our-Government/Emergency-Management or call 918-453-5000.

Services

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/19/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Family Assistance will again give out school clothing vouchers to eligible children through its Clothing Assistance Program this summer beginning July 5. The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at: • Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” on July 5 in Tahlequah, • Carl Albert College’s Multi-Purpose Student Center on July 6 in Sallisaw, • Stilwell High School cafeteria on July 12, • Salina Middle School cafeteria on July 13, • Catoosa New Dome cafeteria on July 25, • CN Sam Hider Health Center on July 26 in Jay, and • Sequoyah High School’s “The Place Where They Play” on July 27. The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at: • Warner High School on July 11 in Warner, • CN Vinita Health Center on July 18, • Nowata Public Library on July 19, and • Washington County Fairground on July 20 in Dewey. Family Assistance Manager Angela King said voucher applications would be taken and distributed the same day. She said 6,850 children received $100 clothing vouchers in 2016, and the program has approximately the same amount of vouchers to distribute this year. “The intent of this program is so the children can have at least one nice outfit to begin the school year with,” King said. King said the vouchers must be spent at Stage stores. According to its website, there are approximately 10 Stage locations within the CN. She said the vouchers must be spent on school clothing and not on accessories such as backpacks or fragrances. She added that the vouchers have no expiration dates and can be utilized during the state’s tax-free weekend of shopping on Aug. 4-6. To receive vouchers, students and families must meet eligibility requirements and income guidelines. Eligibility requirements and required documents are: • Student must be a CN citizen, • Student and family must live within the CN jurisdiction, • Student must be in grades kindgertarten-12 for the upcoming school year, • Must bring proof of school enrollment for each child, • Kindergarten students must be age 5 before Sept. 1, • Must bring a utility bill, not older than 30 days, that shows physical address or service address, • Custodial parent or legal guardian must show identification and complete application, • Guardians must bring letters of guardianship issued by a district court, and • Must bring verification of income for everyone in the household. Also, state home schooled children are not eligible for the program. According to income guidelines, households cannot make more than $15,075 for one person, $20,300 for two people, $25,525 for three people, $30,750 for four people, $35,975 for five people, $41,200 for six people, $46,425 for seven people and $51,650 for eight people. For families/households with more than eight people, add $5,225 for each additional person. According to the CN website, the Clothing Voucher Program is funded through the Tribal Council and has been implemented through Human Services since 2006. The goal is to assist families with back to school expenses by providing financial assistance for school clothes for the children’s first day school. For more information, call 918-453-5266 or email <a href="mailto: angela-king@cherokee.org">angela-king@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/06/2017 10:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Career Services is teaming with the Pipeliners Local Union 798 to train CN citizens to be welders, journeymen or welder helpers. As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed April 21 in Tulsa, the CN will refer promising Cherokee workers to the Local Union 798 for training and for jobs across the United States as they arise. “The Cherokee Nation is working hard to connect our citizens to stable, high-paying jobs that provide great benefits, and we feel our partnership with the Local Union 798 is giving tribal citizens yet another pathway to employment for jobs that are in high demand,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said while touring the union facility in Tulsa. “While the physical and mental demands associated with this field of work aren’t for everyone, we have citizens in the Cherokee Nation who are going to thrive in this environment and several have already expressed an interest.” Through the agreement, training is free to CN citizens. Local Union 798 has about 6,500 members, many who are citizens of federally recognized tribes, and can connect qualified CN helpers and welders to projects in more than 40 states. Travel and overtime are often required for the jobs, which are in various climates and weather conditions. “This MOU is historic because it means tribes, especially Cherokee Nation, will be at the table early in the development process so that we can voice opinions about cultural resources and natural resources before pipeline routes are determined and finalized here in Oklahoma,” said Bobby Gonzalez, tribal liaison of the union. “The union and tribal government will have each other’s interest in mind.” Local Union 798’s training specializes in downhill welding, which accounts for the majority of work involved with the contract jobs. Most work for union members involves natural gas or oil pipelines. Entry-level helpers have the potential to earn more than $100,000 per year, while some experienced welders belonging to Local Union 798 earn well above that, not including their benefits. “This isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle and a career path that can change someone’s life,” Local 798 Business Manager Danny Hendrix said. “This agreement could provide job opportunities for Cherokee Nation citizens that include nice wages, per diems, pensions, health care, 401(k) and structure. We want to help build careers. That’s really what it’s all about, and it just makes sense for us to work with tribal nations.” Helpers connected to jobs through Local Union 798 are required to complete 5,000 hours of fieldwork before applying for the union’s welder training. The training courses are offered three times per year and last 14 weeks. “Our Career Services department already provides training in carpentry, welding, masonry, electrical work, heavy construction, culinary and other trades, which allows us to develop and encourage work habits and skills that promote employability and self-sufficiency,” Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said. “Our partnership with Local Union 798 will give Cherokee Nation citizens yet another avenue for training and good-paying jobs.” Career Services offers vocational and educational programs, employment programs, youth programs, skills assessments and certifications and other resources for individuals and businesses. For more information, call Career Services at 918-453-5555 or email <a href="mailto: career-services-dept@cherokee.org">career-services-dept@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School is again participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Program. It will run May 22 through July 6, Monday through Thursday, at the SHS cafeteria. The program provides nutritious meals at no charge to children during summer vacation. Children aged 18 and under, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, are eligible to receive meals through the program. Breakfast will be served 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to noon. The cafeteria will be closed Memorial Day, Independence Day, Fridays and weekends. A person 19 years of age and over who has a mental or physical disability (as determined by a state or local education agency) and who participates during the school year in a public or private, nonprofit school program (established for the mentally and physically disabled) is also eligible to receive meals. Adults may eat breakfast for $3 and lunch for $4. The SHS cafeteria is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call Food Service Supervisor Steve Jones at 918-453-5190.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2017 12:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s Small Business Assistance Center is partnering with speaker and trainer Bennie Gonzales and the U.S. Small Business Administration for a two-day, interactive small-business course for Cherokee entrepreneurs. The course will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 22-23 at the Indian Capital Technology Center in Muskogee and is designed to educate small-business owners on understanding and formatting request for proposals and government contracting. “Government contracting is a great step in which local businesses can grow their business, and we are excited to help them learn the skills needed to be successful with this process,” Stephen Highers, CN SBAC entrepreneur development manager, said. The course is part of the Small Business Administration’s 7(j) program and is provided in part through grant funding. The 7(j) program emphasizes entrepreneurial education, counseling and training resources to help small-business owners who are socially and economically underprivileged succeed. “The training provides a roadmap for small businesses new to responding to Request for Proposals and businesses who want to improve their proposal development capabilities,” Gonzales said. Gonzales brings more than 35 years of procurement experience to the workshop and trains U.S. Department of Defense and civilian agency contracting officers at every level. Gonzales also works with the Contracting Officer’s Representative certification program. “We are excited to have someone of Mr. Gonzales’ skill and knowledge come to the Cherokee Nation to teach our small businesses how to understand the RFP process and how they can do business with the government procurement agencies,” Highers said. The CN is providing the training at no cost, but registration is limited to 30 attendees. Sponsors ICTC and Carrier Medical Lunch will provide lunch both days. To register for this course or to learn more, visit <a href="http://proposaldevelopment.weebly.com" target="_blank">http://proposaldevelopment.weebly.com</a> or email training coordinator Lynn Wilson at <a href="mailto: lynn@redfernbusiness.com">lynn@redfernbusiness.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/03/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare added a four-legged, furry member to its team on May 2. Unali, a golden retriever puppy, flew by airplane from Ohio and will serve as a certified animal-assisted therapy dog, officials said. The dog’s job is to help bring comfort to Cherokee children who are placed in the tribe’s custody, attend court proceedings or move into new foster homes, officials said. “Often when children are placed into custody, they are leaving their home and belongings and going with complete strangers, and to have a dog there to greet and love on them eases their anxiety and lowers stress levels,” ICW Executive Director Nikki Baker Limore said. Unali, the word for friend in Cherokee, was donated by PuppySpot and will spend the next 22 weeks training. “Before we fully introduce Unali, she will have a series of internships where we take her around to various Head Start facilities and nursing homes so that she can get used to new environments. It’s really important for her because she will be around children every day,” said ICW specialist Connie Webb, who is also the dog’s handler. The tribe introduced the puppy, valued at more than $2,400, on May 2 to several children at the ICW office, which serves approximately 1,500 children monthly. Unali is ICW’s first therapy dog, but other departments, such as Behavioral Health have worked with therapy animals, officials said. Behavioral Health has a therapy dog named Cotton, a golden doodle, who often sits in group therapy sessions to calm participants. “Because of the narratives that I can apply to patient lives through the dog, I see way more ‘aha’ moments,” James Bywater, Behavioral Health clinical services supervisor and Cotton’s handler, said. “The connections that I can make with my patients through Cotton are really unbelievable.” Therapy animals receive hours of training and multiple certifications before being released into their work environments. Cotton is a certified American Kennel Club Good Dog Citizen and Unali will soon begin therapy and emotional support training. Additional CN departments, including the Jack Brown Center, are also exploring animal partnership programs.