TONALEA, Ariz. - The Tonalea Chapter, Tonalea School Board and Coconino County officials gathered at a luncheon to celebrate their newly-elected school board members. Tonalea Council Delegate Leslie Dele recognized school board members Linda Curley, president; Chester Claw, member; Delores Claw, secretary; and Linda Chee, vice-president. Chee did not attend. Also attending were Coconino County District 4 Supervisor Mandy Metzger; County Manager Steve Peru and Joann Keen.
"Strength in planning our future" was the theme, and was meant to find means through collaborative efforts to build a strong working community following the inauguration ceremony for Western Navajo Agency on Jan. 6.
Speaking on issues relating to the community, Supervisor Metzger said, "This is an age [in which] we want new partnerships. I am honored and I thank you for voting for me and I look forward to working with you."
"Supervisors Metzger, Ryan, Taylor and Fowler, I look forward to this partnership and our commitment to work with the people," said Peru.
Keen added that her work with Coconino County, and the Navajo Nation on the economic stimulus bill will assist with infrastructure, Head Start, agriculture, and security needs on Navajo.
Curley expressed her concerns of challenges that lie ahead for the school, including ways to rebuild the school so that parents could bring their students back. She encouraged parents to participate in school activities and board meetings.
"I want to thank you for your votes," she said. "I wanted to help make a positive change, [which is why] I decided to be on the board. My heart is here at Tonalea School. I attended the school. It would be nice to have our students fill our school again."
Curley added that she would like to see improvements in roads, programs and community oriented activities to strengthen bonds between generations.
Council Delegate Dele surprised officials with tokens of appreciation. Dele and his wife Lillie, who serves on the Economic and Community Development Committee in Tonalea, put together baskets to present to guests and officials.
Dele surprised Tonalea Chapter officials with custom-made jackets with names embroidered. Chapter president Chester Claw stated that he has met with Coconino County officials on partnerships at the grassroots level to develop Tonalea. "We want to empower and build [and] work together. We would like to see Tonalea become an LGA (Local Goverance Agency). We want to keep our taxes in Tonalea," he added.
Chapter vice-president Steve Arizana thanked the audience for their support as did Chapter secretary Franklin Tohannie, who told voters, "I learned a lot from being in this job, and I am more about the community from when I first started. Yes, we are still limited in a lot of ways by laws and restrictions, [and] we need your support."
An open microphone was available to community members, and several expressed similar comments on supporting their elected officials with their prayers and efforts to develop Tonalea.