The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Watersmeet celebrates new clinic opening

 

Tom Stankard / Daily Globe

LOCALS explore the lobby at the new Lac Vieux Desert Health Clinic in Watersmeet on Wednesday.

By TOM STANKARD

tstankard@yourdailyglobe.com

Watersmeet - The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians ceremoniously cut the ribbon Wednesday afternoon to open a $10 million "state-of-the-art" health center.

As rain lightly fell, tribal members, health center staff and the community came together to celebrate the center's opening.

To set the tone, tribal member Jim Williams, Sr. gave an opening prayer and said the health center is going to help "a lot of people."

"(The health center) will save people a lot of time because most have to travel far to get to the hospital. This is going to help a lot," he said.

Several tribal members performed an honor song as the tribe's flag, the state of Michigan flag and the American flag were raised.

Tribal elder Rose Martin and tribal youth Garret Williams together used large scissors cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the new health center.

With a tear in his eye, tribal chairman Jim Williams, Jr. thanked a number of people for making the "dream" become a reality.

He said the health center is meant to provide services to the tribal community as well as the general public.

Sitting on "cherished land" along U.S. 45, the new 33,000 square-foot facility is designed to house an array of health services under one roof, including: chiropractic, dental, optical, medical care and others, said Medical Director Gary Pusateri.

The tribe broke ground on the facility in September 2015. Prior to that, in July, 2014, Williams said the LVD tribal council appointed a construction committee that included the general contractor, Miron Construction.

He said the committee was responsible for deciding, on behalf of the Watersmeet community, what values the center should reflect. They agreed the new facility should be welcoming and have cultural influences.

Standing in the lobby, Pusateri said the building was designed to be "part of the natural surroundings."

"The accents throughout the building reflect what native culture is about," he said.

George Peterson, Watersmeet's representative for the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners, said the health center will benefit the region.

"The whole community is buzzing," he said. "Everybody is very excited and happy to have such a facility that we can use for our health needs."

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