Strong spring Hi-Line winds could do little to snuff the excitement on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation Tuesday afternoon.
Tribal, federal, county and local leaders gathered to cut the ribbon on the new Rocky Boy Justice Center, about halfway between Stone Child College and Box Elder.
The $10.5 million complex, a few years in the making, received congratulations from many of the dozens of ribbon-cutting attendees.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., thanked everyone who helped get the center built and said the center “shows a commitment to public safety” that will work well with the SAVE Native Women Act he recently helped pass.
Tester also spoke to the vital part that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act played in getting the center built.
“For those who say the Recovery Act doesn’t work, just take a look at this facility right here,” Tester said.
State Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, and CEO of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corporation that built the facility, lingered toward the back of the grand opening’s crowd, where he explained how the ARRA funds contributed $2 million to the local economy, through workers’ wages alone.
Bonnie Keller, a representative of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.,, read a statement from the senator lauding the new center and those who helped build it for supporting community safety, not only through law enforcement but by creating jobs and placing special emphasis on drug and addiction treatment for inmates.
Darren Cruzan, Bureau of Indian Affairs Chief Law Enforcement Officer, has been working with the tribal government for the past few years on a special project that is now helping staff the new facility.
Cruzan told the crowd that “having the resources we need, we can have a strong impact on crime in native communities.”
At the conclusion of a two-year program to reduce, among other offenses, violent crimes by 5 percent on four reservations, that rate had fallen by 35 percent.
Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock also congratulated the group on the building and what it will mean for the community.
“I think we all share the same ideas and goals that are embodied by this new facility,” Bullock said. “We all want our children to to grow up in communities with safety, education and well-paying jobs.”
He also congratulated the tribal government on its accomplishments in the face of recent natural disasters.
“Despite two devastating floods, things are still getting done,” Bullock said. “The Chippewa Cree tribe does not rest in taking care of its people and pursuing economic development.”
The new facility is replacing its much smaller predecessor a few miles to the east, which Belcourt explained was an old fire station that was converted into the police station about 20 years ago.