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Storm shelter assistance program paused pending additional funding

Congress meeting in special session to consider the additional funding and other items

A newly established Osage Nation storm shelter assistance program is temporarily paused pending ON Congressional action to authorize additional funding after the initial funding was maxed out by interested applicants.

During the May 16 emergency special session, the Eighth ON Congress met to consider storm and emergency-focused legislation in wake of the May 6 tornado that struck Barnsdall and a temporary boil order due to E. coli discovered in the Hominy city water supply at the time. During the session, Congress passed two legislative bills creating a revolving fund for the storm shelter assistance and an initial appropriation of $250,000 to fund the program.

The Executive Branch then established policies and procedures for the assistance program available to all enrolled Osage citizens and announced the program launch via social media on July 1. Then before the two-day Independence Day holiday on July 3, the Nation announced: “Applications have closed. Current applications have reached the funding limit.”

Congressman Eli Potts sponsored the two storm shelter assistance-related bills, ONCA 22-77 and ONCA 22-78, creating the revolving fund and initial appropriation. According to ONCA 22-77, the bill cited historical weather data in Oklahoma involving tornadic weather events to describe the need for the storm shelter fund, as well as its program for Osages interested in applying for the assistance.

According to the bill, “expenditures out of the storm shelter assistance fund shall be limited up to $5,000 per adult member of the Osage Nation for the total purchase, rehabilitation of existing shelters and installation cost of a storm shelter or safe room.”

Also in the bill, guidelines for the storm shelter assistance include: The assistance is limited to Osage homeowners; Only one storm shelter benefit shall be awarded to each physical address unless the property ownership has changed and the new owner, as a member of the Osage Nation, can prove that the previous storm shelter or safe room has been removed from the property; Those who receive the storm shelter assistance shall be required to submit proof of the storm shelter or safe room installation. 

With Congress scheduled to meet starting July 8 for its final special session ahead of the July 13 Inauguration Day for the incoming Ninth ON Congress, Potts filed another appropriation bill (ONCA 24-64) requesting an additional $750,000 to replenish the fund.

The $750,000 additional funding bill filed for special session consideration is ONCA 24-64 (also sponsored by Potts). According to the filed bill, “the initial appropriation to the Storm Shelter Assistance Fund was only sufficient to cover 50 applicants; As of July 3rd of this year, three days after the announcement of the program, the Nation has received approximately 65 applicants … For these reasons, a supplemental appropriation is necessary to accommodate the current and expected incoming applications.”

For more Congressional information on sessions, committees and to view filed legislative bills/ resolutions, visit the Legislative Branch website at: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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