Cherokee Nation donates to Craig County school, volunteer fire department



Carselowey Fire Department Photo Cutline (L-R): Carselowey firefighter Frank Shofler Sr., firefighter Jordan Shofler, Assistant Fire Chief Frank Shofler Jr., Fire Chief Justin Smith, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Speaker of the Tribal Council Victoria Vazquez, fire department board President Bob Chase, board member Deborah Collins, board Secretary Susan McGlasson, board member Joe Moss and firefighter Drew Chamberlain.

KETCHUM, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez visited Carselowey Fire Department and Ketchum Public Schools Tuesday to present donations.

Carselowey Fire Department received $3,000 to help build a new addition to the fire station that was founded in 1986. The volunteer fire department, which is southeast of Vinita and west of Ketchum, covers about 36 square miles and helps protect 350 Cherokee and non-Cherokee families.

“Rural fire departments always stand ready to protect life and property, so it is important that Cherokee Nation stand with them,” said Councilor Vazquez, of Welch. “Carselowey Fire Department is doing more and more, and these funds will help it expand."

Fire Chief Justin Smith said the addition may help the department achieve a better public protection classification. If that happens, homeowners in its jurisdiction will likely see their insurance premiums drop.

“We’re supported only through membership dues and donations, so we’re pretty excited about this donation. To have a new facility to protect our trucks is a big deal,” Smith said. “Right now, we have to shuffle our trucks around, sometimes leaving them at the home of a firefighter, and in the winter things begin to freeze up. A new building will give us three new bays and hopefully a larger training room and board room. The Cherokee Nation’s donation will help us solve many of our problems so that we’re always ready to go if needed.”

Administrators at Ketchum Public Schools were surprised when they received a $1,000 check Tuesday afternoon.  Councilor Vazquez will work with the school to identify the best use of the funds to meet end of year priorities.

“This is a difficult time for Oklahoma public schools. When I saw an opportunity to make a difference at Ketchum, a school that stretches every dollar, I was glad to work with Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s administration to do so,” Vazquez said.

Ketchum Superintendent Pete Hiseley, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said the $1,000 donation will help purchase welders and other technology needs for a new vocational-agriculture program. Hiseley said the vo-ago program is being started in July, thanks to the tribe’s recent $30,000 donation to the school from car tag sales.

“This latest donation was unexpected. We haven’t been given anything for quite a while except by the Cherokee Nation, and it’s overwhelming,” Hiseley said. “In a day and age where it feels like we’re being dismantled, it’s so welcoming to have the Cherokee Nation’s support for all of our students. It helps our days and helps our morale.”

Ketchum Public Schools serves around 600 students. The new vo-ag program is designed for students in grades 8-12, and enrollment is expected to reach between 100 and 150.

“Supporting our fire departments and schools allows these groups to make a positive, life-changing difference in their communities,” Hoskin said. “Every dollar helps their worthwhile efforts. I commend Deputy Speaker Vazquez for identifying and addressing these needs with our administration in order to help more residents and students.”

The tribe used its special projects fund for both Craig County donations. Projects funded through the special projects fund are selected by Tribal Council and Chief Baker’s office and allow the tribe to partner with communities and organizations on projects that benefit Cherokee Nation citizens and non-Cherokees alike.

Cherokee Nation News Release
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