Leaders celebrate USDA backing of new Red Lake, Minn., projects
RED LAKE, Minn. -- When Roman "Ducker" Stately became Red Lake's first fire chief in 1972, he ran the fire department from a small garage. "It was so dark in there you could hardly see," Stately said. "The truck barely fit in the garage," he adde...
RED LAKE, Minn. - When Roman "Ducker" Stately became Red Lake's first fire chief in 1972, he ran the fire department from a small garage.
"It was so dark in there you could hardly see," Stately said. "The truck barely fit in the garage," he added.
Now, 43 years after Stately moved the department into what was, in 1973, a state-of-the-art facility, he will watch Red Lake's firefighters move once again, thanks to a direct loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will provide funding for four Red Lake projects, including a new fire hall.
"We don't have room for all of our equipment in the old fire hall, and the population has more than doubled since they built that facility," Stately said.
Stately, along with prominent members of the Red Lake community, representatives from both Sen. Amy Klobuchar's and Sen. Al Franken's offices and USDA employees, gathered Thursday to celebrate the projects and funding.
The USDA announced in September that Red Lake would receive nearly $13 million of funding for the four projects: a new chemical dependency treatment center, new fire halls for Red Lake and Ponemah and an expansion of the reservation's existing dialysis center.
Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seiki thanked the USDA and tribal council, first in Ojibwe, then in English. Seiki said he is glad that people living in Red Lake will be able to get treatment locally.
"Drug addiction is everywhere, not just Red Lake," Seiki said. "I want our people to get well."
Seiki also requested that Red Lake residents be hired to complete the projects, allowing money to circulate within the reservation.
The drug treatment center, the most expensive of the four projects, will cost almost $5 million. According to a USDA news release, the center will have 16 beds, group meeting rooms and visitation areas. Expanding the dialysis center from five to 12 units will cost $3 million, and the two fire halls will cost more than $2 million each.
The fire hall to be constructed in Ponemah will include a decontamination space, a training room and space for the fire department's entire fleet of trucks. The new Red Lake facility will also serve as a back-up for the Ponemah hall.
The USDA's Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer thanked Red Lake's leaders for their work in securing the direct loans, calling the day "a celebration." About 6,000 people live on the reservation.
"None of it happens without leadership," Landkamer said. "You all are the ones that make the difference."