With a large grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs expects to expand fire and safety protection across the reservation.
Mark Simmons, of Salem, state director of the USDA, delivered a check for $475,000 to Fire Chief Danny Martinez last week -- the largest grant to an Oregon tribal entity this year.
"There's a need," said Simmons, noting the the USDA provides grants for other tribes as well under the Economic Impact Initiative. "It fits well within the guidelines of the program as delineated by Congress."
The tribes pledged another $55,000 from a fund put together last year. "In 2005, we established a challenge fund with money earmarked specifically for matching funds," said Ray Potter, chief financial officer.
"Almost all grants available have some degree of match," Potter explained, and without the matching fund, the tribes could not qualify for those grants. "This is the second one we've use it for."
With the $475,000 grant and $55,000 in tribal matching funds, the tribes will purchase a pumper/tender unit for structure protection in the Sidwalter area ($250,000), an ambulance ($130,000), a fire rescue unit ($100,000), and a jet boat ($65,000).
According to Martinez, the tribes intend to build a new substation for the Sidwalter area, a ranching community about 14 miles northwest of Warm Springs, which has about 39 residences with approximately 50 people in about 60 square miles.
Last year, the tribes purchased two ambulances to help cover the 2,900 calls for an ambulance in 2005. The new ambulance will allow the tribes to reduce its number of mutual aid calls to Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services. There were about 23 last year.
"We've got excellent partnerships with our neighbors," said Martinez. "We're meeting a unique plan to make sure we're providing that service to the community."
The new fire rescue unit will be used for structures in the 1,200 square miles of protection provided by the tribes, and the jet boat will be used for search and rescue missions along 250 miles of the Deschutes and Columbia rivers and other local waterways.
Rick Ribeiro, now social services manager for the tribes, applied for the grant.