A busy intersection and a bridge in need of improvement were the subjects of discussion at the Northeastern Inter-Tribal Council's monthly meeting.

MIAMI – A busy intersection and a bridge in need of improvement were the subjects of discussion at the Northeastern Inter-Tribal Council's monthly meeting.

Modoc Chief Bill Follis asked about the status of the intersection at the Will Rogers Turnpike Gate and Steve Owens Boulevard in Miami and expressed his displeasure at the need for lengthy studies concerning an obvious problem.

“It'd take about 30 minutes to go over there and study it,” Follis said, which brought laughter from those in attendance.

The need for improvement to the intersection for better traffic control and safety has long been a topic of discussion for the Inter-Tribal Council, the City of Miami, and other stakeholders.

“I think it's time that we act,” Follis said.

Follis proposed the idea that the City of Miami could put a turning lane in which would allow for better traffic flow, especially with the heavy truck traffic traveling the roadways there.

Oklahoma State Representative and Miami City Attorney Ben Loring said the City of Miami is working with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority

“Ben, it doesn't need working on, it needs to be done,” Follis said.

“I understand Chief, it's a big ship that we're trying to turn around,” Loring replied.

Ottawa Chief Ethel Cook asked what the hold up is on the project.

“It's a combination of where this is in their priorities and unfortunately it's not as high in their priorities as it would be in our priorities,” Loring said. “There is some effort to move some bridge money away from where it is located to this project.”

Loring was referring to the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma's effort sot help fund the Highway 10 Bridge improvements in exchange for funding for the intersection improvements.

“That will help expedite the process,” he said.

“There's some potential horse trading trying to get it done,” Peoria Chief John Froman said.

“We all have concerns, but I just want to say I don't want to trade that horse for the Highway 10 bridge we're about to fall through on that,” Eastern Shawnee Tribe Chief Glenn Wallace said.

Froman and Loring reassured Wallace the plans were to request redistribution of the bridge funds only after Bureau of Indian Affairs funding could be procured to subsidize the project.

“So, there wouldn't be taking any money away, and you'd be actually trading some of our bridge money for the intersection in exchange,” Froman said.

Loring also announced the City of Miami had signed a contract for the operation of the Tourist Information and Welcome Center in the Will Rogers Turnpike on I-44.

''That's progressing nicely, and we hope to be working with ITC and everybody here to develop that,” Loring said.

Senator Micheal Bergstrom addressed the council telling them he has been busy on new legislation and offered to look into the situation with the intersection or any other issues he might be of help with.

“The budget outlook is much like it was last year, so we'll be discussing that I'm sure in the months to come,” Brian Hendricks said.

The new Tribal Affairs Liaison for the Department of Human Services Carmin S. Tecumseh-Williams told the council her department is working on tribal and state foster care payment agreements to ensure a more efficient process.

“This helps the state be in compliance because the state acts as a pass through for those federal funds,” she said. “It's been a long while since tribal/state agreements have been done.”

The NEO Native American Student in Higher Education Club was given a $2,021.84 donation from the ITC's activity fund to fund student attendance of the Oklahoma Native American Student in Higher Education Conference.

“This conference allows students to meet and network with other students from Oklahoma. I'd like to share some of my experiences there. I got to meet some astounding individuals, some of which work for the tribes, some of which work for the people statewide and tribal wide, successful business owners. Meeting successful people really pushes me to continue my education and higher education makes such success attainable. That's why I like to attend the ONASHE conference,” Whitney Iron, a NEO sophomore, said. “...I was lucky enough to say I get to be a part of the living legacy called ONASHE.”

NEO A& M College hosted the ONASHE conference in 2014.

In a unanimous vote for the election of officers for ITC for the new year, all current officers remained in place and no changes were made.

In comments, an announcement was made for the All Tribes Education Consortium Valentine's Dinner and Auction at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Ottawa-Peoria Building in Miami. Tickets are $10 per person, $17 per couple in advance and $15 a person and $22 a couple at the door. The menu consists of spaghetti red, spaghetti and meatballs, a vegetable medley, breadsticks and salad bar, a drink and dessert. All proceeds and donations got to the ATEC Scholarship Program. For information contact DeMaris Gaines at 918-541-0372.

The next meeting of the ITC is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 1.