Photo by Charles Clark / Choctaw Nation
Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., and District 10 Tribal Councilman Anthony Dillard get plenty of assistance as the ribbon is cut opening 10 new homes in Atoka. The construction project is through the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation’s LEAP program.
Choctaw Housing Opens 10 New Homes in Atoka
ATOKA, Okla. – Choctaw Nation Housing Authority opened ten new homes Thursday, July 26 in Atoka as part of its lease-purchase (LEAP) program.
Tours were conducted and families proudly posed for photos in front of their new homes. As the dedication ceremony got underway, District 10 Choctaw Singers performed two traditional hymns in the Choctaw language and dignitaries were introduced, including Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. Atoka city officials, Choctaw Nation Tribal Council and members of the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation were in attendance.
Chief Gary Batton said, “This Council has appropriated the money to build 10 of these in each District for a total of 120 new homes across the Choctaw Nation,” which brought immediate applause from the audience. Speaking directly to the families moving into the new homes, he said, “I hope you are enjoying your homes… I love to hear your stories. I hear of people who have had to struggle and are now doing well. They are owning cars, owning homes. That’s empowerment. That is the Choctaw spirit.”
Among new homeowners was Misty Nicholson, a former steelworker who had to take medical retirement after an automobile accident. “I’m so glad to be in this house. Owning it and not paying rent. This is a wonderful place,” she said.
“This is a great day for our area,” said District 10 Councilman Anthony Dillard. “There are two more of these events scheduled already. They are building houses and we are super excited about it.”
Located on Lowry Lane, the addition features homes that are more than 1,400 square feet in size. All have two-car garages and sodded lawns. The all-electric residences come equipped with new appliances, central heat-and-air, and safety features. All 120 homes of the LEAP program are expected to be completed in 2018.
The stated mission of the new LEAP program is “to build strong families and vibrant neighborhoods through quality affordable housing and strengthened financial stability for those we serve.” Families with credit issues are assisted to become mortgage ready and lender qualified over time by receiving credit counseling services.
Director of the LEAP program is Mandi Young, firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about ‘LEAP,’ contact Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation in Hugo, 800-235-3087 or online www.choctawnation.com/leap-program.
Everyone Welcome at Choctaw Ag Expo
DURANT, Okla. – Growing things is a big part of what agriculture is all about. The Choctaw Nation Agriculture Outreach Program is doing that in a variety of ways. During the school-year classroom visits are made; demonstrations are provided at public functions; technical assistance is given to agricultural producers and grants are written and administered to expand community services. This summer the organization is helping the first Choctaw Nation Agriculture Expo to take root.
“There used to be several in and around Durant, but they have kind of dwindled away over the past 10 years,” said Nikki Schuth-Mitchell, Tribal Extension Agent for the Choctaw Nation. “We are hoping to get a big one started again with the Ag Expo.”
This is a trade show, not a livestock show, she explained about the one-day event. Close to 30 vendors have already been confirmed for booths at the Choctaw Nation Agriculture Expo on Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Choctaw Nation Event Center, 3702 Choctaw Road in Durant (the northeast corner of Choctaw Road and Highway 75). Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
The list includes a number of large vendors, such as farm equipment and trailers, which will have some of the bigger displays. Vendors have donated door prizes for drawings including “Three real nice chainsaws we’ll be giving away,” Schuth-Mitchell said.
The purpose of the expo is to bring together in one place the agricultural resources and professionals to help farmers and ranchers of the community. Multi-acre agri-businesses and backyard gardeners alike are expected to benefit from the show of agricultural services and farm and ranch equipment. Gardening techniques will be demonstrated and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be on hand to offer grants and policy information. KLBC FM radio 106.3 will be broadcasting live with updates throughout the day. The expo also will serve as the fundraiser for the FFA which will operate the concessions stand.
To find out more about the first Choctaw Nation Agriculture Expo, contact Macy Vansickle, (580) 924-8280, Ext. 4276 or email@example.com.