TEESTO, Ariz. – Approximately 60 community members were in attendance in the community of Teesto on Sunday, as President Russell Begaye signed into law a Council resolution approving $2.9 million in supplemental funding for the construction of a new chapter facility for the community.
Council Delegate Lee Jack, Sr. (Dilkon, Greasewood Springs, Indian Wells, Teesto, Whitecone), who sponsored the legislation, explained that the chapter is in great need of a new facility after their chapter house was burned last year in a case of arson.
“I thank President and my colleagues on the Council for unanimously supporting this legislation which will help our community and help the people,” said Delegate Jack.
The legislation was unanimously supported by the Council during the Fall Council Session last month. Council Delegate Seth Damon (Bááháálí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Tsé Lichíí’, Rock Springs, Tsayatoh) and Council Delegate Walter Phelps (Cameron, Coalmine Canyon, Leupp, Tolani Lake, Tsidi To ii) were in attendance for the signing ceremony and applauded Delegate Jack for his persistent efforts and advocacy that ultimately led to the approval of the bill.
“Delegate Lee Jack was adamant,” said Delegate Damon. “When he came before Council he was adamant that this legislation be passed to help all of you.”
Prior to the passage of the legislation, the funding was eliminated from a separate legislation when President Begaye used his line-item veto authority to strike out the funding because it was considered a “rider” to the original legislation. President Begaye has consistently stated that he will not approve any “riders” to legislations.
During several discussions, issues over insurance coverage also raised concerns which led to the legislation being tabled.
Teesto Chapter President Elmer Clark thanked the President, Speaker LoRenzo Bates, and the Council for supporting the funding to construct a new facility. The chapter has utilized the local veteran organization’s meeting facility since their chapter house was burned down.
Also in attendance were Vice President Jonathan Nez, Navajo County Supervisor Jesse Thompson, Teesto Chapter Vice President LeRoy Thomas, Legislative District Assistant Francis Lester, and Chapter Manager Tom Yazzie.
Chapter President Clark said chapter officials will meet with representatives from Navajo Design and Engineering Services next week to further develop construction plans and to establish a timeline for the construction of the new chapter facility.