Pandemic Preparedness building on fast track

MISSION – Walls are expected to go up during the week of Dec. 9 on the 10,560 square foot “Pandemic Preparedness” building under construction in Coyote Business Park South on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Workers are hurrying to get the $2.5-million building up and finished by the end of the year because CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act requires the money be spent by Dec. 30.

Bill Tovey, Director of the Department of Economic and Community Development, is optimistic if not confident that the pre-engineered metal building will be completed on time.

The building will provide homes for three components:

A broadband “point of presence” where the new internet Wi-Fi will be centered. Eight to 10 cabinets will be available to rent to internet providers to house their servers. (See other story on Page 11A.)

A food pantry that will allow the Confederated Tribes to store groceries currently at the CAPECO building on Airport Hill. The Tribes’ Department of Children and Family Services will provide oversight of at least two employees. DCFS obtained nearly $600,000 in a CARES grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which supplies commodity foods to income-eligible individuals and families. The food distribution facility will include a walk-in freezer and refrigerator, with shelves of canned and dry goods for Tribal members to choose from. (See other story on Page 3A.)

A storage area for personal protection equipment (PPE) for Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center. That will mostly include COVID-19 required masks and cleaning supplies. At some point, PPE may be stored there for Wildhorse Resort & Casino and the CTUIR.

The building will be a shell with the interior layout to be created after the building is finished. But Tovey said the building will not be a “warehouse.” Rather, the interior of the 60-foot by 176-foot building will be finished, probably with sheet rock on the walls. The food pantry will include a “point of sales” (like a grocery store check-out line) plus furniture.

Concrete footings were poured in mid-November. but construction was stalled for a few days because of snow, rain and mud. It’s “back on track” with hopes that weather won’t be an issue again.

The pre-engineered metal building, brought to the Reservation on three semi-trucks, is stored in pieces at the Tribal Environmental Recovery Facility (TERF).

Tovey said the walls and roof should go up within two to three weeks. Landscaping and paving won’t happen until spring and will require more money from the Tribes.

Tovey said the building, which was approved by the CTUIR Board of Trustees in July, will meet all Tribal Land Development codes and design standards.

It is the first construction at the Coyote Business Park South’s industrial site since the Tribal Environmental Recovery Facility was built.

Don’t expect the building to stick with “pandemic preparedness” as its moniker.
“We’ll eventually give it a new name,” said Tovey.