By Richie Richards, Native Sun News
Mayor Steve Allender, along with Rural America Initiatives – Executive Director, Bruce Long Fox, project developer Hagg Brothers, LLC, and RAI-selected board members for the development project Denice Murphy and Sharon No Heart met with members of local media to announce the new 28,000 square foot Head Start facility will include classrooms, support spaces, administrative offices, outdoor play space and indoor/outdoor play space for community use.
In a prepared statement, Bruce Long Fox announced, “Rural American Initiatives has been serving the most at-risk Native American children and their families in Rapid City since 1986. It is the mission of Rural America Initiatives that education, with pride through understanding of heritage, is the key to breaking the forward-continuing cycle of poverty.”
Continues Long Fox’s statement, “The many educational needs of families are met through a series of programs including Head Start, Early Head Start and Ateyapi, a mentoring program in Rapid City’s elementary, middle and high schools. Now that the site for the new facility has been identified, the goal of providing a more positive environment for the pre-K education and care of at-risk Native American children has taken a tremendous step forward.”
The press conference was attended by Kent and Rex Hagg of Hagg Brothers LLC, part-owners of Hagg Brothers, LLC along with Brian Hagg and John Gomez of Rapid City.
“We are proud to be part of helping Rural America Initiatives realize its goal of obtaining a new multi-service facility and also being part of an ongoing dedicated effort to create the best environment possible for the advancement of the goals of Rural America Initiatives. Discussions with members of the City Council, City department officials and the Mayor’s Office indicated strong support for the Native American Head Start Program and affordable housing community project,” said Kent Hagg in a prepared statement preceding Friday’s press conference.
“We have been working together many months to get where we are today,” said Kent Hagg at the press podium on Friday, “We are very happy for this collaboration.”
Bruce Long Fox expressed his appreciation for Hagg Brothers, LLC and for Mayor Allender and the City of Rapid City to Native Sun News for their support in the development. Long Fox says he hopes this will bring other Native American organizations and businesses to the future development, including Oglala Lakota College and Habitat for Humanity Houses.
These Native American groups will be able to purchase or lease land and office space in the campus-style setting of the area in located in North Rapid.
According to Rex Hagg, the idea for this collaborative effort began about 4-5 months ago. “These are exciting times in Rapid City for additional growth. There could be some opportunities for Native American organizations and the community,” he told NSN.
“The planned development which will include Rural America Initiatives’ new facility for the Native American Head Start and other vital programs, plus innovative affordable housing, and general commercial uses, offers a unique opportunity for public, private and charitable agencies to join forces in making a meaningful, positive impact on the need for affordable housing and early childhood education opportunities for the youth of Rapid City,” Mayor Allender said in the press release.
“The city of Rapid City supports this development,” Mayor Allender told reporters.
Denice Murphy and Sharon No Heart were asked to sit on a board selected by RAI to oversee this development and project. “It’s time the city and community recognize us. For a long time now, they’ve been making decisions for us. Now it’s coming full circle and we now have the money to build the building for our children,” said No Heart.
-Copyright permission Native Sun News