Wahzhazhe Connect, the Osage Nation’s broadband department, has wrapped up its first construction project to add internet availability to the Senior Housing Complex in Pawhuska.
In a news release, Wahzhazhe Connect announced on May 11 the Pawhuska Senior Housing Complex is in the final stages of completion as construction partner, Gulf Shores, adds final equipment to the housing units. The contracted engineering design firm, ACRS, and Wahzhazhe Connect conducted final inspections, working with ON Construction Manager, Brandon Wallace, to make sure the neighborhood is clear of remaining rock, dirt, and debris from areas where boring and trenching were required.
“The residents in Pawhuska Senior Housing have been wonderful to work with,” Dr. James Trumbly, director of Wahzhazhe Connect, said in a statement. “We are grateful for their hospitality and patience as we broke ground on this major construction project in their neighborhood. As this was our first of many projects, we learned a great deal from the feedback from the residents that will benefit the project and the residents in our future projects.”
Wahzhazhe Connect and Nation officials celebrated the broadband expansion project launch in February. It’s the first for the entity’s multi-year broadband expansion funded by grants totaling $54.5 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program and ReConnect3 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Preparation for the next construction project is underway in Fairfax Senior Housing, Wahzhazhe Connect also announced. Its staff and contractors are working in consultation with Fairfax city officials to identify and mark utility and other telecommunication lines buried throughout the neighborhood to help avoid hitting unseen lines underground, which could interrupt service to the neighborhood.
The Nation constructed 10 duplexes for a total of 20 senior housing residential units, which opened on Fairfax’s south side in August 2022.
“In any construction project, there is always a risk of hitting underground lines,” Drew Tiger, a Wahzhazhe Connect project manager said in a statement. “Sometimes underground lines are not recorded by previous construction projects, or not accurately identified, or the records are outdated. But we will take every precaution to avoid hitting underground lines and will repair any damage immediately.”
In preparation for construction, Wahzhazhe Connect staff offered presentations for residents on April 18 at Fairfax’s Elder Nutrition (Title VI) building. Joined by ACRS Resident Engineer Kyle Giblet, staff members shared expectations about how construction will impact the neighborhood, timeline for completing the project, and ways residents can communicate with the project with any comments, questions, or concerns during construction, the release stated.
At the May 1 Fairfax City Council meeting, Dr. Trumbly formally requested permission to proceed with construction in the neighborhood. Town officials granted permission for construction, with Wahzhazhe Connect committing to working with Mr. Hobie Robertson and the public works department during construction.
Construction resumed in the neighborhood the week of May 15 with field technician trainees returning to the field along with construction contractors, the release stated. Field Technician Trainees have completed the first round of classroom and field training, which will be followed by additional classroom and field training later this summer focused on aerial construction.
After construction in Fairfax Senior Housing is completed in the next few weeks, construction is scheduled to begin in both Pawhuska and Grayhorse Villages.
For more information, contact Wahzhazhe Connect at (918) 287-5532 or go online to: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/wahzhazhe-connect
Follow Wahzhazhe Connect on Facebook @WahzhazheConnect
Also, for more information on the Nation’s Housing Department, Senior Housing availability and other services, visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/housing