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Thu., Sep. 3
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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To The Editor:

Last week, I was invited by Building Contractor Jon Maginn of Heritage Homes, the mid-sized Massena based construction contractor, to take a tour of the Akwesasne Diabetes Center for Excellence: A 13,000 square foot structure.

The project cost is $3.5 million. The contract went to the best bidder, Heritage Homes (HH) a non-native owned outfit. At any given time there are 14 workers on site building from a vision to create a helpful reality. That is $3.5 million injected into the local economy.

Still under construction I could see how well planned the facility is and how functional and fine tuned it is to its purpose - to help prevent, heal or to live with diabetes. Diabetes is a devastating epidemic not only among Natives but among communities all across our North country.

The building funds came in part from sources within the American’s Federal gov’t through our government-to-government relationship. Not surprisingly a good chunk of the funds were generated locally through private sources and thru some good ‘ol local fundraising events.

Treatment at the Center is not meant only for Mohawk people. People from around the North country will also be able to take advantage of the facility. This is a state-of-the-art facility that can be shared.

This project is an example how well our communities can work together in these hard times.

Of the 14 people working at the site, 7 are Mohawk. That is 50% and HH has plans to keep these men on their crew when the project is completed because, “…the Mohawk workers bring to the project great skills sets and a strong work ethic. And a great sense of humor.”

Maginn and other contractor buddies of mine from the area say that if it were not for the strong Mohawk economy and our constant expansion of businesses and services there would be very little work for North Country contractors.

We at Akwesasne possess strong sense of place. We understand what it means to be and to have good neighbors. I look forward to the day when Massena and Malone elect officials that understand that what is good for Akwesasne is also good for the North country. Maginn and Heritage Homes are people who “get it”. Our hearts are big, and our sense of friendship keen and our memory runs long.

Kudos to Heritage Homes for hiring a 50% Mohawk work force to help build this state-of-the-art facility.

Ray Cook

Akwesasne Mohawk

Residing on the Grass River lands

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