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Klamath Tribes Community Center

Construction of a 7,400-square-foot Klamath Tribes Community Center is underway in Chiloquin. Housing manager Roberta Sexton expects the center to open in June.

CHILOQUIN — A Klamath Tribes Community Center expected to open in June will be the centerpiece of a new 56-acre housing development in Chiloquin.

The function of the center is to provide a meal site for elders and a rental space for events, Klamath Tribes housing manager Roberta Sexton said.

“It’s important now that we have a place of our own where tribal members can come and have ownership in it,” said roads manager Anna Bennett.

The 7,400-square-foot building will include a roundhouse community area and a commercial kitchen that will provide meals to tribal elders three days a week. The Chiloquin Community Services Department is currently providing the service next door to the Klamath Tribes administration building at the congregation kitchen, which is part of a 14-unit housing facility.

A much-needed office and craft space for elders will also be in the center.

“At the congregate, the elders always have to pack their stuff up and store it. Here, the area will be dedicated to them so they don’t have to take anything and move it,” Sexton said.

The other motivation for building the center is to provide a gathering place where tribe members can host meetings and events.

“The center should bring our community together and move us forward socially and economically,” Bennett said.

The community center is being built west of Highway 97, at the junction of Highway 62 and Highway 422, about two miles from the congregate kitchen. It will be added as a stop on the local bus service, said Bennett.

According to Sexton, the community center costs approximately $2.2 million. More than half — $1.3 million — was funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Indian Affairs, she said. Other funding came from an Indian Community Development Block Grant and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act.

The housing development project, which draws from separate funding, has been ongoing since 2005. Bennett said construction on the development’s roads began in 2007 and four homes were completed in July 2012. The plan is to build four homes per year until 24 are completed, said Sexton.

The Klamath Tribes administration also plans to open a childcare facility this spring.

ljarrell@heraldandnews.com; @LMJatHandN