Moencopi Governing Board gets down to business

UPPER MOENCOPI, Ariz. - On April 13, the Governing Board for the Upper Village of Moencopi held their monthly meeting. Among items on the agenda was the filling of a board seat on the Moencopi Utility Authority with Leroy Sakiestewa, a longtime expert in the field of water services on the Western Navajo Agency.

Sakiestewa's concerns with the water issues of Moencopi prompted him, after two years of consideration, to submit a letter of interest for the position. He currently serves on the Moencopi Development Corporation so he feels that this will enable him to serve the community better with his expertise in water management. He is passionate in making sure that water needs and issues are met with the expanding development of Moencopi and for the community housing proposals.

The governing board also approved Larry Tuchawena for a position on the Law and Order committee. He has had experience in the legal field for many years as an attorney, prosecutor, detention officer and policeman and is committed to making the community a safer place. He wants to help people understand that there are consequences for breaking laws and feels the community is in need of tougher enforcement strategies and prevention.

A comment was made that he should work for the prosecutor but says that he felt uncomfortable putting his relatives in jail, but with the current atmosphere in the community, he feels that it would be necessary.

Jeremy King also requested the bylaws of the Law and Order committee be amended to rescind the language pertaining to previous convictions disqualifying a person from serving on the board.

Approval was given to strike that requirement to allow potential candidates to serve on the committee. King was adamant that the community needs to become more involved to help combat the problem of drugs and alcohol on Hopi.

Another issue concerning residents in the Tuba City/Moencopi area is the open dump that the EPA has been trying to clean up for the last 13 years. Based on a presentation from Carl Warren EPA Project Manager from San Francisco, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After years of studies and red tape, the cleanup of the Tuba City open dump is soon to become a reality.

For years Tuba City and Moencopi residents have dumped their trash at this site until after the federal government determined there was underground water uranium contamination. It was subsequently shut down. Now, after years of wrangling, a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) assessment is near completion and in the next few months, public hearings will be conducted to get community input and approval for the cleanup.

Warren and John Krouse from the BIA area office confirmed that it may seem like a delayed process, but the complexities of the situation made this a long process. It is unknown if at one point uranium contaminated waste may have been dumped at the landfill from the Rare Metals mill. In addition, according to Mark E. Miller, senior hydrogeologist for Daniel B. Stephens and Associates, there are numerous other contaminants that need to be considered.

The first hearings to address these concerns are scheduled for June 9-10. The public is highly encouraged to attend these hearings.

Another issue that was addressed was the lack of funding for the Tuba City Unified School District, which is faced with major budget cuts and forced to implement staff reductions and program cuts. Currently coaches are not being paid and and the state may issue IOUs for funds that may become available later. However without any real capital, cuts have to be made.

Proposition 100 could ensure some funding if passed and could potentially save many jobs. Ray Daw from the Coconino County Elections office encourages everyone to register to vote for the Arizona Statewide Special Election on May 18.

Finally, the Moencopi Senior Center was approved for funding to attend a conference in Fort McDowell for the Arizona Council on Aging. This is an event that gives seniors the ability to learn new things and network with other senior organizations in Arizona. The seniors were grateful for the Board's assistance.

Current board members include William Charley, Governor; Mary Navanick, Lt. Governor; Danny Humetewa Sr.; Leroy Sumatzkuku; Everett Calnimptewa; Wayne Kuwanhyoima; Theresa Martza; Alton Honahni; Sam Shingoitewa Jr.; and Gerald Lomatewima.

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