NORTH FORK — The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California in coordination with Madera County plans to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May 4, for a new 4,156 square foot emergency services building. The new facility will include fire station living quarters, a sheriff substation, and an EMS substation.
The project is being funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) awarded to the Tribe, with in-kind services, furnishings, and equipment to be provided by Madera County and the agencies utilizing the facility. Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue stated “We have more deputies on patrol in the mountain communities of Madera County than ever before. These facility improvements, which include a satellite office for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, will complement these staffing enhancements and enable Sheriff’s Office to more effectively and efficiently serve the great residents in the North Fork area with shorter response times. The Tribe’s commitment to improving public safety in the area will be felt for generations to come. We value our partnership with the Tribe and the opportunity to work together to improve public safety.”
The project seeks to capitalize upon prior investment to improve the response times of emergency services to the community, including fire, sheriff, and ambulance. The project is a continuation of past efforts that allowed for the construction of the existing North Fork Volunteer Fire Station (Madera County Fire Station #11) that was completed in 2013. This was made possible through a three-party agreement between the North Fork Rancheria, Madera County, and North Fork Community Development Council. The North Fork Community Development Council provided a land contribution to the Tribe, and the Tribe was able to leverage federal grant funds to help construct the station. Madera County shared in the cost of the station with additional contributions provided by the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary.
Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler stated “I grew up North Fork and my family and friends live there so I take issues of public safety in the area very seriously. These improvements to Station 11 will enable better fire protection for an area that has been plagued by fires over the past several years. More than anything, I am just so thankful for all the amazing projects being put forth by the North Fork Rancheria that are helping to make improvements for the hardworking people of North Fork.”
The North Fork Rancheria began taking steps to pursue this effort in 2019 by updating a Memorandum of Understanding with Madera County to extend ownership of the volunteer fire station with the goal of seeking additional grant funding for the facility. “The existing volunteer fire station was a significant accomplishment for the community but lacks a living quarters necessary for the station to be fully staffed. While the tribally provided grant sources do not provide for staffing, it will enable Madera County Fire and Sheriff as well as Sierra Ambulance to plan and budget for future staffing with the goal of improving services and response times for the community,” said Tribal Chairman Fred Beihn.
The HUD ICDBG grant program is a competitive grant program for use in developing viable Indian and Alaska Native Communities, including decent housing, a suitable living environment, and economic opportunities, primarily for low- and moderate-income persons. Eligible categories of assistance include housing, community facilities, and economic development. “HUD is committed to helping Native Americans thrive and the funding announced today will have a positive impact on building sustainable communities,” said R. Hunter Kurtz, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing at the time this HUD ICDBG award was announced.
“The North Fork Rancheria’s dedication to Public Safety within Madera County is outstanding. This new addition of living quarters to the current Madera County Fire Station 11 is bringing the community of North Fork much closer to having full-time fire protection for the area” said Madera County Fire Chief Matthew Watson. The Tribe’s success over the years with various federal grant programs has helped to provide vital community facilities and infrastructure to support and sustain the small Sierra community of North Fork, CA.
According to Paul Irwin, the Tribe’s executive housing director who prepared the grant application and will oversee the construction project, “The new facility reflects a coordinated, assessed, and community-based effort to address facility needs that are critical to emergency response and public safety. Development of the proposed facility is consistent with strategic plans and policy goals for the Tribal Community and County and has support from a wide range of entities.”
Aaron Sundstorm, General Manager for Sierra Ambulance, stated “Sierra Ambulance has served the area of Eastern Madera County, including North Fork, for over 50 years. Some of our own clinicians live in this part of the community. Having a dedicated station in the area of North Fork will help bring EMS services to this area quicker. Bringing EMS, fire and law enforcement agencies under one roof will also help with inter-agency responses and bring a more cohesive service to this community. We are extremely grateful to the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and their support of local emergency services. We look forward to the enhanced services this will bring to this great community.”
Architecture and engineering for the project was carried by PBK of Fresno. “PBK is proud to serve the North Fork Rancheria and coordinate with Madera County in further developing a cost-effective approach to meet agency needs and enhance services for the community,” said architect Bryan Sassano.
The groundbreaking will be held at 33400 Douglas Ranger Station Road, North Fork, CA 93643, on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at 1 p.m.
About the North Fork Rancheria
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe with over 2,300 tribal citizens and government offices in Madera County, California. Since the restoration of its federally recognized status in 1983, the Tribe has established modern tribal governing institutions to improve the lives of its tribal citizens, many of whom have limited access to basic housing, healthcare, business, employment, and educational services and opportunity. The Tribe leverages its limited federal grant funding to operate numerous tribal programs. More information is available at www.northforkrancheria.com.