Tuesday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 2
We had budget hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday in all-day sessions.
Thursday, December 3
Tribal Council was in session. Today, I presented a veto on the resolution for the study of recreational use of marijuana. I am proud to say that Tribal Council upheld my veto by an 11-1 margin! Most agree that a vote on the medical use of this drug could be beneficial to many people, but certainly not the recreational use.
Saturday, December 5
The Christmas Parade – Cyndi and I participated by walking in the parade and later attending the Legends and Lights event and were invited to do the lighting of the huge Christmas tree at the fairgrounds, a lot of fun!
Monday, December 7
We continued with the budget hearings and due to the ongoing sessions I was unable to attend the funeral for Lloyd Johnson from the Snowbird Community. Instead, Cyndi attended it on my behalf. Lloyd was killed in a tragic traffic accident. My prayers are with his family still.
Tuesday, December 8
Today, I attended the funeral of Nicey Rattler. I was saddened to hear of her passing; she was a kind woman who also had a bright smile for everyone. I will always be thankful for the lunch I shared with her at Tsali Care just two weeks before her passing. Unfortunately, another Cherokee language speaker of our Tribe has left us. My heart goes out to her family.
Later in the evening, Cyndi and I attended a Christmas dinner at the Cherokee County Community Club where we gave away some very nice Christmas gifts/door prizes as we have done for several years. We all had a good time and a good dinner. Thank you for kicking the Christmas season off in a good way.
Wednesday, December 9
Finally, after several weeks working on the budget with the Finance Department and attending several days of budget hearings, I am proud to say the budget was passed. Thank you Tribal Council for your attention and willingness to work with me to get that done for our people. We saved millions of dollars from the originally prepared budget for 2016, and we were also able to fully fund several new projects, including almost $4 million for new school facilities and increased teacher pay, funding for the drug treatment center, funding of a new employee recognition and appreciation program, retroactive merit and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) raises, adoption of the new Tribal organizational structure, reinstated a 5 percent 401k match for employees, creation and funding for a new legal services branch that will include indigent and low income representation in civil and criminal matters, and we also created a new Employee Rights office that will be available to assist employees with all personnel rights or grievances. The Tribal Finance staff did a great job during the redrafting of the budget and in the preparation and presentation to Tribal Council. Thank you to everyone involved; good work!
Saturday, December 12
State Championship game at Wake Forest. Although it did not turn out the way we hoped, the boys played a darn good game. It was great to watch, the weather was perfect and we were glad to show our support. Good job Black Knights!
Tuesday, December 15
Today, we attended a luncheon with our very own Cherokee Speakers. We were very glad to attend and took the opportunity to give out some Christmas gifts/door prizes. The food was good, the conversation was interesting and I always appreciate an invite to sit and listen to our speakers; it was a real treat, thank you!
Thursday, December 17
We attended a funeral on another loss for our Tribe with the passing of Louisa Grindstaff. She was a kind, gentle lady and a good friend to me and Cyndi. We won’t forget her! The Tribe has one less Cherokee Speaker, again. My heart goes out to her family. She will be missed.
Also, today on the 17th, Cyndi and Sage attended the Cherokee County and Snowbird Senior Centers to deliver some Christmas cookies to the residents there; something we have done for several years also.
And also on the 17th, later that evening, we attended Christmas dinner in the Big Cove Community and gave away Christmas gifts/door prizes. We had a really good time visiting with some special friends from Big Cove. Thank you for the invitation!
Saturday, December 19
This evening, we attended a Christmas Dinner in the Snowbird Community. Cyndi and I always enjoy visiting our good friends there and also giving away Christmas gifts/door prizes and being a part of the generosity shown to that community from the Asheville Church Ministry of Pastor Tom Camocha. These church members have taken care of Snowbird at Christmas time for over 10 years and we enjoy being a part of that, almost as long as they have. The food is always good. We are very happy to be able to join in the Christmas celebration with our friends and family from Snowbird.
Monday, December 21
This day, we attended a luncheon with the staff of Cherokee Central Schools. We had a great lunch catered by Granny’s Kitchen and we were happy to give out some Christmas gifts/door prizes there as well. The teachers and staff are all well deserving of it. They work very hard to teach our children and we certainly appreciate that. Education is the key to a brighter future of our children and thus… our Tribe. Also a thank you goes out to the school board for their hard work and dedication to our enrolled children as well; we believe in the work you all are doing!
Evening of 21st – We attended Christmas Dinner with our Veterans and gave them some Christmas gifts as well. It is always an honor to be in their presence; we are blessed to have several enrolled members who are real warriors and heroes that served our country in the past. We are grateful to each and every one of the past and current military members for their service. God bless you all.
Tuesday, December 22
Today, we went to Tsali Manor and had a wonderful lunch with the residents there and were able to give out some nice Christmas gifts and prizes, and also some cookies, so everyone left with something from me and Cyndi. We had a good time and enjoy their company and our visits to see them every time. Tommye Saunooke, Anita Lossiah and Richard French from Tribal Council attended with us. Thank you for a great afternoon!
Later that day, on the 22nd, I am very proud to report the surprise we were able to deliver to the Boy’s Club Children’s Home. I visited the Children’s home with the Vice Chief, a couple council members and my Chief of Staff to help present a new arcade game to the children. I tell you it was a nice surprise to them and the looks on their faces said it all. I was happy to donate that to them and appreciate all those in attendance and the staff of the home that helped us unveil the new game to them.
I was very glad to hear the positive reports on the amount of leave I was able to grant to our employees to spend time with their families through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays!
I am looking forward to the many positive changes and plans I have for our Tribe in 2016. I feel really good about the working relationship we have developed with Tribal Council and feel confident that we will find many areas of common ground and be able to make some serious advances for our Tribe and Cherokee Families.
Coming up later this month will mark the “First 100 Days” of my new administration and I am working on putting together a full report to show you all the accomplishments thus far. We still have so much more to do and every day I am giving it my all!
Happy New Year to everyone and may God Bless you, your family and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians! Thank you.