The Seventh Osage Nation Congress voted to fund several infrastructure improvement projects for the three Osage villages and one municipal water project with its American Rescue Plan Act funding during the 10th Special Session.
After discussion, debate, and amendments on several bills in the special session, the bills received unanimous Congressional votes. The bill approvals come after Congress and Executive Branch officials discussed the bills and prioritized which ones would be funded from the initial $108.3 million in ARPA funding distributed to the Nation.
Infrastructure-related bills seeking ARPA funding approved by Congress include:
ONCA 21-53 (sponsored by Congressman Scott BigHorse) is a $3 million appropriation bill seeking ARPA funding for water and sewer infrastructure repairs, improvements, or upgrades for the Pawhuska Village and community. Before the vote, Bighorse said “everyone knows the shape of our villages,” referring to the utility infrastructures in need of updates.
ONCA 21-56 (Congresswoman Brandy Lemon) is a $3 million appropriation bill for repairs and improvements to the Grayhorse Rural Water District. Lemon said improvements at the Grayhorse Village are needed because the area needs more fire hydrants and current water lines are outdated and need replacing with larger piping during a Congressional Culture Committee discussion.
ONCA 21-59 (Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt) is a $5 million appropriation bill for water and sewer infrastructure repairs and improvements to the Hominy Indian Village and the Hominy Community.
Also, Congress passed bill ONCA 21-77 (Congressman RJ Walker) to appropriate $3 million to the City of Barnsdall for water and sewer infrastructure repairs and improvements. The ARPA-related bill comes after two recent leaks reported in the Lake Waxhoma dam where the city receives its drinking water.
“I’m happy we’re in a position to help our communities,” Walker said, adding he sponsored the bill after visiting with Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley who updated him on the city infrastructure issues. Kelley told the Government Operations Committee the city is also looking at other grants to fund the infrastructure repairs and the city is ready to work on a new lift station project and to replace a water line from the dam to the city water plant.
Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the infrastructure-related bills to take effect after the 12-member Congress unanimously passed 15 ARPA-related bills on Aug. 2 in the special session.