On July 15, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim jointly delivered the State of the Navajo Nation report to the Navajo Council during opening day of its summer session.
The joint report was delivered almost entirely in Navajo and was approved with a vote of 17-1 according to a Navajo press release.
Within the report there were several ongoing projects that were highlighted including the most recent information regarding FEMA reimbursements, the 4G broadband project, Navajo Transitional Energy Company and a job training initiative in which Public Service Company of New Mexico will proved Navajo students $1 million through the next five years.
“Working with PNM, our goal is to provide funding directly to Navajo students in fall 2013 at both Navajo Technical College and San Juan College. We need to invest in our people and I believe this is an important way to do that,” the President’s report stated.
According to the release, PNM plans to provide $200,000 a year to help pay for job training for Navajo students. PNM proposed the plan to President Shelly nearly a year ago after the U.S. EPA ruled that PNM owned San Juan Generating Station had to reduce emissions to reduce haze.
“Through this process, the Navajo Nation has been involved and worked actively with the U.S. EPA, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Environment Department, and PNM,” the report stated.
The report discussed the $30 million that was received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the 4G LTE broadband project which is nearly complete and will bring the latest broadband technology to the Navajo Nation.
Shelly’s report also discussed the formation of the NTEC and the potential of a Navajo owned coalmine. NTEC is the transitional company formed to buyout BHP-Billiton’s Navajo Mine.
As for the FEMA reimbursements, Shelly reported that $5.5 million had been received by the Nation – some of which had been almost a decade in waiting.
“We are thankful that the Department of Emergency Management was able to complete tasks that were left undone for nearly a decade. They are now putting forth new uniform practices that will ensure that in the future, reimbursement payments will be processed in a much more efficient manner. This could not have been done without the assistance from the Chapters and administrative staff,” the President’s report stated.
Jim updated the Council about the Na Nizhoozhi Center in Gallup that is scheduled to close and reopen under a new name. The Navajo Nation would then have 25 weeks to finalize a plan that would include the Nation managing the detox facility.