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Choctaw Nation – News


Choctaw Nation Opens New Construction of Kulli Road

Photo by Charles Clark / Choctaw Nation
Kulli Road is officially opened with a ribbon cutting by District 1 Councilman Thomas Williston, along with Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., tribal members and construction representatives Aug. 2 in McCurtain County.


IDABEL, Okla. – A ribbon cutting on Thursday, Aug. 2 officially dedicated a renovated stretch of road south of Idabel that has a lot of meaning for local residents. Kulli Road, a hilly, dirt-and-gravel two-lane with several sharp curves is now a smooth and well-marked asphalt connection for 6.9 of the nearly 11 miles between Highway 259 and the town of Haworth.

“Choctaws settled this area when they first arrived. This Kulli community is 188 years old,” said Councilman Thomas Williston, of Choctaw Nation District 1. He recalled people who walked the road and how they would give each other rides when he was growing up. “I remember all these families that lived around here. There were the Jesses, the Jameses, and others. This is the old highway. Now, their great-grandchildren are using this road… I’m proud of the Choctaw Nation and that we are able to do this. We’ve spent $11 million in this district alone. We are working hard to make life easier for you.”

Chief Gary Batton thanked everyone for attending the ceremony, and said, “It means a lot to have everybody come out and see what the tribe is doing for you.” Speaking of Councilman Williston, he added, “Thomas has great ideas, and he truly has a great heart for the people of this area and for all of the Choctaw people.”

Also included in the ceremony were Choctaw singers from the Idabel area. One of the hymns they performed in their native language was Hymn No. 112. “It was a song that they say our ancestors sang on the Trail of Tears,” Williston said. The moving performance touched everyone present.

The east-west roadway, completed near the end of May, is safer and busier already. Emergency vehicles had to block the road briefly to allow for the ribbon to be cut.

Since 2015, the Choctaw Nation has completed projects on 18 roads in southeastern Oklahoma. The total expense of $31,555,690.28 has included resurfacing, widening, leveling, ditching, redesign of utility lines, fencing, signage and more to 36.7 miles of roadway. Currently, Transportation has 32 projects in various stages of planning and design.

“We got lucky on Kulli Road,” said Choctaw Nation Director of Transportation Bill Blankenship, “there was no utility work or tin horns that had to be put in. We were able to stay within the easements. Otherwise, this job could have run over five million dollars.”

At $2,804,275.93, the cost was closer to half that figure.

Still, in re-doing Kulli Road, first-rate specifications involved laying a new base and packing it down, then adding filler and leveling it one-inch to five-inches in places. Then another two-inch layer was added before the three-and-a-half-inch finishing layer of asphalt was put down. In all, the new road is 18 inches deep. Banking on curves required an additional foot-and-a-half build up for both safety and flood prevention during heavy rains. Also, along the road, almost a dozen new private driveway entries had to be built.

Steve Byrd, of Comprehensive Engineering Services, out of Antlers, pointed out the graveled shouldering on both sides for the entire length of the new road. This feature adds to the safety and helps prevent erosion, he said.

Kulli Road is also known as “Old 21,” for Highway 21, and County Road E2180 in McCurtain County. Blankenship noted that there was still plenty of Choctaw family housing along the road.

According to Executive Director of Land & Title Wayne Wylie, the Choctaw Nation Transportation Department already has another ribbon cutting scheduled Aug. 14 recognizing the completion of Nixon Road, west of Coalgate off Highway 31.


Choctaw Recycling Center Nearing 20 Million Pounds of Recycled Material

Photos By Kelsey Brown/ Choctaw Nation
Processed bales of recycled material at the Durant Recycling Center are ready to be shipped to manufacturers.

Choctaw Nation opened the doors of the Durant recycling center in December of 2010 making them the only recycling facilities in their region. They later added a facility in Poteau to help process all of the material being recycled.

Recycling has been an avenue for the Nation to preserve its tribal land and help reduce landfill waste.

In 2016 Choctaw recycling centers reached the goal of 10 million pounds of recycled material and are expecting to reach the 20 million mark by the end of 2018.

For most recyclables, the materials are sorted, baled, and shipped off to manufacture new goods.

One of the most common items recycled is aluminum cans. It only takes about 60 days for an aluminum can to end up back on the grocery shelf after being tossed in the recycling bin.

In June the Durant facility upgraded their equipment with a new conveyor sorting system and auto-tie baler, and the previous equipment was moved to the Poteau recycling center.

This advancement helps both recycling centers keep up with the material received daily making the process quicker and more efficient.

Together both centers service 150 recycling bins in southeastern Oklahoma and north Texas. The recycling roll-off bins are open to anyone that would like to help in the recycling effort.

To find the nearest recycling bin in your area visit www.choctawnation.com.

The Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation is the third largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and 10,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please go to www.choctawnation.com.