Osage Nation OKs $50,000 for water system

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

The Osage Nation Congress has approved a $50,000 appropriation to assist the city of Wynona with a water-system improvement, and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has signed off on the legislation.

The measure passed during the third special session of the sixth Osage Congress.

Congresswoman Shannon Edwards was the principal sponsor of the bill to help Wynona, which originally called for a $75,000 appropriation. Edwards had to be away on the day when the bill was formally introduced and debated, so Congressman John Maker, a co-sponsor, handled the bill on the floor.

Maker said he had hoped the ON Congress would provide $75,000 and was disappointed when the amount was reduced.

“We try to do all we can for all the cities on the Osage Nation reservation,” Maker said. He has sponsored other water-related legislation. “So, I’m very interested in helping people.”

Principal Chief Standing Bear said he had signed the bill.

Officials in Wynona said the money will help with an attempt to raise money to replace the community’s water tank, which is more than a century old. The city has spent money on short-term repairs, but problems keep cropping up, municipal officials said.

“Every two years we’re putting in a lot of money,” Wynona Mayor Johnnie Jo Lott said. An engineer has looked at the tank and recommended that a complete replacement will be more cost-effective in the long term, she said.

Lott said replacing the water tank and ensuring the viability of the water-supply system will help Wynona when it comes to the construction of new housing.

“There are so many people that call us every day and ask if we have housing,” she said. “This is a little town and people like little towns for some reason.”

Vice Mayor Della Carter echoed Lott’s comments, observing that the water tank is very old and it’s deteriorating.

Jami Robinson, the municipal clerk, said Wynona had not yet settled on the size of new water tank it needs to try to install for its water-supply system. There are 239 meters on the system, a small number of which are outside corporate limits, she said. Robinson indicated additional research will be done before the city decides what size water tank it needs.