Community , Health

Osage Nation breaks ground on new Fairfax Wellness Center

Photo Caption: Members of Osage Nation Congress, Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn and members of the TriArch and Builder's Unlimited Inc. take part in turning over the dirt at the Fairfax Wellness Center Groundbreaking ceremony on May 23. CHALENE TOEHAY-TARTSAH/Osage News

FAIRFAX, Okla. – Construction is underway on a new Osage Nation Wellness Center here on the north side of town and the facility will open next year.

ON officials and area constituents celebrated the planned 4,600 square-foot Wellness Center project with a groundbreaking ceremony on May 23. The Wellness Center will be built at 255 N. 1st St. next to the ON Language Center.

“This facility will be available to the public for exercise and we are going to emphasize cross-training as much as lifting weights,” Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said in a statement. “The facility will also have health counseling rooms for information and guidance to confront health problems people may have, including diabetes, heart disease, and other health-related issues.”

TriArch Architects is designing the center and Builders Unlimited, Inc. is the construction company, according to a news release. The cost of the project is projected to be $1,050,000. Funding was secured by an $800,000 grant awarded to the Osage Nation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Indian Community Development Block Grant Program.

Standing Bear could not attend the event, but Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn delivered congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Executive Branch. Red Corn thanked the Nation’s grant writers for their work on applying for the HUD grant and the ON Congress for approving the $250,000 matching appropriation in 2016 with tribal funding.

Red Corn said the new Fairfax Wellness Center will replace the current facility on Elm Street that has been described as “inadequate, very small, very crowded” and is difficult for use by people with limited mobility “and we hope to address all those issues with this facility.”

Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt said the project is the result of several entities working together and added “I’m really excited for the Fairfax and Grayhorse communities,” which is receiving the upgraded facility after the Nation celebrated the recent completion of a new Hominy Wellness Center.

ON Fitness Center Director Hank Powell said his staff is ready to serve the area with the new facility. “Our staff is ready to hit the ground running and to provide some of the things we haven’t been able to provide in the past. The center is going to give us new life, hopefully bring more people to the center and participate in everything we have going,” he said.

In a statement, Osage Casinos CEO Byron Bighorse said: “It's projects like these that are exactly why Osage Casinos exist. Our primary goal is to give back to the Nation to better the lives of our tribal members, and we believe the Fairfax Wellness Center is a perfect example of that work in action."

For more information on ON Fitness Center locations and hours, visit the Nation’s website at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/fitness-center