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Prairie Band Potawatomi council donates $54,000 to finish renovations of Haskell Stadium Arch

LAWRENCE, Kan. ? The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation has donated $54,000 to the Haskell Stadium Arch Committee, enough to assure completion of renovations to the historic arch.

The arch has fallen into disrepair since its dedication 75 years ago, and for the past two years a small group has worked hard to raise money to repair its crumbling masonry .

Mary and Eli Jackson spearheaded the effort to restore the arch to its original condition. They started out simply wanting to buy flags and banners for the campus focal point after seeing pictures of how it was draped at the 1926 dedication. But once they started looking at the arch, they realized a great deal more had to be done before it simply fell apart.

Although the arch is a part of the Haskell campus and is supposed to be maintained with the federal funds that come to the school, it always was at the end of the list of things that had to be renovated. Dormitories and classrooms came first.

Mary Jackson said she was thrilled with the donation. 'I am so pleased that so many people came to see us receive the check,' Jackson said looking out over the crowd in Stidham Student Union Nov. 8. 'I am so glad we received this donation and so surprised.'

The money is earmarked for arch repair and will provide help toward projects within the football stadium.

'We've gotten some estimates from a contractor,' Jackson said. 'He said he can repair the damages and get it back to looking good for about $51,000. And then we plan to use this money for other things like to replace the fence and the gate and we would like to see the concession stand under the stadium fixed up to standard ? get some heat under there and a grill for hamburgers and a deep fryer for french fries and just get it up to date so the kids can make more money from it.'

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Prairie Band Potawatomi council secretary Steve Ortiz said he was pleased with the reaction of the Arch Committee.

'We had received a request from them earlier in the year for a donation. The general council and the tribal council got together and decided how they were going to do their donations from their allocation fund and it came up with the committee.

'It was put up with other donations to the general membership and the tribal council and it was voted on to donate here and to make other donations.

'This is the first time the tribe has given out major donations,' Ortiz said. 'This is just the first of many donations to come in the next few months. We are new at this, we are just getting started. Hopefully we are doing the right thing.'

Earlier the tribe donated toward relief funds for the victims of the Hoisington, Kan., tornado and for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Council members who came to present the check didn't go away empty handed. Chairman Badger Wahwasuck accepted a limestone carving on behalf of the tribe and tribal council members received Haskell T-shirts.

The donation to Haskell had many wondering why other 'casino rich' tribes aren't donating money to Haskell. 'Maybe they will get the hint,' one Prairie Band Potawatomi said, laughing.