AKWESASNE—If you’ve driven along Route 37 in Akwesasne during the past month, you couldn’t help but notice several construction projects that are underway or nearly completed. One of those is located adjacent to the former-IGA Building and entails construction of a new and expanded Family Advocate Building and a Tribal Court Building.

Utilizing the Akwesasne-based general contractor Akwesasne Earth Movers (AEM), the two new facilities represent the latest efforts by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to use CARES Act funds to provide a safe and healthy workplace for workers and clients. Previously situated in smaller facilities, the two tribal operations could not accomplish necessary social distancing.

The Tribal Court previously occupied a shared space with the Tribal Police Department at the Tribal Justice Building, while the Office of the Family Advocate was situated in a renovated trailer. Inadequate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; limited work and common space (waiting areas, meeting rooms; and shared spaces); and other deficiencies increased the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“The safety of our colleagues and community members is our top priority,” said SRMT Executive Director Tsiorasa Barreiro. Barreiro added, “The new buildings help the Court’s and Family Advocate’s staff, as well as the Tribal Police Department who gain new space vacated by the Court. Akwesasne Earth Movers have done a great job and many local Mohawk members have been put to work through this initiative. People need the work right now and I’m glad the Tribe is able to help in this area, yet again.”

Working 60 hours a week to complete the two buildings before Dec. 30, AEM, with the assistance of Mohawk Networks, is constructing facilities that were designed through the collaboration of the Tribe’s Planning and Infrastructure (P&I) Division and Tisdell Associates. P&I Division Director Colleen Thomas personally developed the Tribal Court’s floor plan based on its need for a 3,552-square-foot facility to accommodate nine (9) offices, an 864-square-foot courtroom, lobby and reception area, and handicap accessibility.

“The Planning and Infrastructure Division has been very busy working in collaboration with local companies to complete these important tribal projects before December 30th,” shared P&I Division Director Colleen Thomas. Thomas noted, “These are much needed improvements that help meet each program’s workspace requirements in response to the pandemic.”

AEM and Mohawk Networks are also working together to finish construction of a new Family Advocate Building that will provide more space to help families experiencing a hardship or crisis. The 1,334-square-foot facility will be handicap accessible and provide four offices for the Family Advocate, Victim Advocate, and Junior Advocate, as well as a large meeting space for families to safely come together and adhere to social distancing requirements

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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