(L to R) Front Row: Watts Town Clerk Brigitte Beavers, Watts Public Works Authority Superintendent Chris Baker, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, District 7 Tribal Council Member Frankie Hargis and Engineer Cason LeBlanc. Back Row: Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is helping the town of Watts repair its sewer system after a recent lightning storm struck two pumps, disrupting services for its 400 residents.
The tribe secured $36,400 in funding from Indian Health Service to assist the town with the $51,000 project. The Watts Public Works Authority will cover the remaining costs.
“The town of Watts is in a dire situation at no fault of their own, and the Cherokee Nation is more than pleased that we have the emergency funds available to help its residents,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It’s important to remember our local communities, both big and small. Investing in projects like this one in Watts means investing in the lives of not only Cherokees in the area, but schools, businesses and the entire community as well.”
The Cherokee Nation funds will cover material and labor costs for the replacement of two sewer lift station pumps and a bypass pump that will keep the wastewater from dumping into the Illinois River.
Prior to obtaining new pumps, the town of Watts was borrowing a pump from Stilwell to maintain sewer service.
The Cherokee Nation donated funds to the Watts Public Works Authority last year to help replace the aging pumps.
“I can’t thank the Cherokee Nation enough. We’ve asked for help twice now, and they’ve been there for us both times,” said Chris Baker, superintendent of the WPWA. “We’re a small community with about 75 percent tribal citizens and don’t have a lot in terms of income to fully support projects like this. Even in the dirtiest conditions, they’ve been right on it to help us, and I can’t show my gratitude enough.”
So far, the Cherokee Nation has completed 13 water and sewer projects with $338,000 from tribal funds and $424,000 from Indian Health Service and Environmental Protection Agency funds throughout the 14-county tribal jurisdiction in fiscal year 2014, which ends Oct. 1. For more information on the Cherokee Nation engineering and sanitation program, visit www.cherokee.org and find the link under the services and community tabs.
Cherokee Nation News Release
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