FAIRFAX — Osage Nation officials marked a happy milestone a week ago, as they held an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new wellness center in Fairfax.
“We just want it to be something special for our people, Father,” Vann Bighorse said in an opening prayer for the groundbreaking.
Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn said the new approximately 4,600-square-foot wellness center, which is being built right behind the Osage Language Center in Fairfax, will be a much-needed improvement.
“We know that the facility we have provided is inadequate — very small, very crowded,” Red Corn said of the old Osage Nation wellness center in Fairfax. The new facility is projected to cost slightly more than $1 million, of which $800,000 is being provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the form of an Indian Community Development Block Grant, the Osage Nation said in a news release.
Another $250,000 is being provided by the Osage Nation, mostly from casino revenue, the ON said.
“It’s projects like these that are exactly why Osage Casinos exist,” Byron Bighorse, CEO of Osage Casinos, said in a news release.
Hank Powell, the ON official who will manage the new wellness center, said there is excitement among wellness center employees about the new development.
“The staff is pumped about the new opportunities we’ll be able to provide,” Powell said.
Scott Vrooman, principal architect for the wellness center project and owner of TriArch Architects, said the new building will be “washed with daylight, with windows everywhere.”
ON Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear had intended to attend the groundbreaking, but could not be on-hand due to a leg surgery the day before, officials said.
The groundbreaking in Fairfax is just one of several ON infrastructure events that have been on the calendar for late May. On May 24, the ON celebrated the opening of a new wellness center in Hominy. Construction on that project began last November.
Also, the ON was scheduled May 31 — Thursday — to hold a ribbon-cutting in Hominy for a new Dance Arbor and Community Building; however, the Pawhuska Journal-Capital received word Tuesday afternoon from the Osage Nation that the ribbon-cutting for the Dance Arbor and Community Building in Hominy had been postponed until further notice.