Ray: Arrested For Sedona Sweat Lodge Deaths - Navajo's 'Big Bo' Equals Solar - SMSC Grant Aids Community College
Source: NY Times
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities have charged motivational speaker James Arthur Ray with three counts of manslaughter for deaths that happened after a sweat lodge ceremony he led in northern Arizona last year. Ray was arrested Wednesday afternoon at his attorney's office in Prescott on an indictment and was to be booked into the Yavapai County jail in Camp Verde, sheriff's officials said. His bond is set at $5 million.
The Oct. 8 sweat lodge ceremony was intended to be the highlight of Ray's five-day "Spiritual Warrior" event at a retreat he rented just outside Sedona. He told participants, who paid more than $9,000 each to attend, that it would be one of the most intense experiences of their lives. About halfway through the two-hour ceremony, some began feeling ill, vomiting and collapsing inside the 415-square-foot structure.
Despite that, Ray urged participants to push past their physical weaknesses and chided those who wanted to leave, authorities and participants have said. Two people -- Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee -- passed out inside the sweat lodge and died that night at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., slipped into a coma and died a week later. Eighteen others were hospitalized. Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/03/us/AP-US-SweatLodgeDeaths.html?_r=1&hp
Group Looks To Big Bo For Solar, Resource Development Projects
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Larry Foster and Bob Honts of Navajo Enterprises have joined forces with USA Green Energy Group and AECOM in hopes of developing a 50 to 100 megawatt solar project on the Navajo Nation's Big Boquillas Ranch. The parties presented their plans last week to the Resources Committee.
In addition to the solar project, they want to help Navajo develop all of its natural resources at Big Bo and are willing to shell out $300 million to $600 million to drill for water because all projects, including solar, are contingent on its availability, they said.
AECOM is a key partner on the team that manages and operates Nevada Test Site and National Nuclear Security Administration satellite facilities in Nevada, New Mexico, California and Washington. AECOM also has extensive experience in planning, designing and managing water resources.
Geoff Hirson, president of USA Green Energy Group, has been in the United States nearly 30 years and has built numerous businesses ranging from automotive development, to construction, mining, and now, renewable energy, he said. “My legal counsel is Vincent DeVito, the undersecretary of Energy to George Bush, so he has the knowledge for us to go ahead and get the permits and whatever we need for people to buy power from us as a company,” Hirson said.
Foster is partnering with Honts, a business partner of Texas billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs. Foster and Honts previously approached the Navajo Nation to do a wind project at Big Bo with former Navajo Housing Authority CEO Chester Carl, Foresight Wind Energy, and Edison Mission Group.
The initial 85-megawatt project was awarded to Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Foresight and Edison. Legislation for the project, passed recently by the Navajo Nation Council, was signed Friday by President Joe Shirley Jr.
“You have worked with Red McCombs and I now for two to three years, and we introduce these people without hesitation,” Honts said of Hirson and AECOM's Shawn Kelly. Honts said they decided that because of NTUA and Foresight/Edison, they should focus on solar and let them work on the wind side.
The project is “very exciting” for AECOM, Kelly said. “We've done a lot of research already as we were asked to by USA Green Energy and Bob Honts. We believe that this project itself is a very feasible project.”
Navajo has the greatest location in the country for solar, according to Honts. “Big Bo has 98,000 acres of flat land. If it was all put into solar energy, you'd be talking 20,000 to 30,000 megawatts,” he said. There also are transmission lines on-site.
Honts said they want to start small, with 50 to 100 megawatts in phase one, and the ability to duplicate it rapidly over a period of two to three years. They would be the management partner, with Navajo having 51 percent ownership.
“The feasibility and development of the Big Boquillas natural resources is a high priority for us as well, because solar, unlike wind, must have a large supply of water,” Honts said. “Your current return on that ranch is less than $1 an acre. We believe there are great opportunities if we can risk private money, find water and make those possible.”
The solar project location would be the far north and western edge of Big Bo, somewhat removed from environmental problems such as the black-footed ferret, he said.
“We do not plan to seek any federal assistance in phase one that would require NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) approval, because we believe that would slow the project down two to three years. We think there might be a way to get some tax credit help without NEPA approval. We certainly would seek that,” Honts said.
“We're committed to a timely project. If I had to say anything: It's time to act, not talk. If we can get your blessing and approval, we will start the feasibility, we will be back to you within 60 to 90 days, possibly shorter than that.”
A solar project would need at least a moderate amount of water, he said, “therefore we are asking for authority from this committee and whoever you refer to, to permit us to do a very quick review of where we might drill deep wells. We would raise the money to risk in deep-well drilling.”
However, the amount of water needed could depend on the technology used. Solar Millennium, a German company, proposed a solar plant in the Amargosa Valley of Nevada which would require 20 percent of the water available in the area. But a three-phase solar project now being built in California near the Nevada border, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, would use “dry cooling” to minimize water usage, and is not expected to exceed 100 are-feet per year for all three plants.
Honts said Big Bo has one well that produces 450 gallons a minute. “We need to drill additional wells and we need to know that we have found a substantial amount of water.
“One of our requests is that we enter into an agreement where we risk the money to try to produce operating wells with sustainable water production that will permit use for solar plants and other uses on Big Boquillas Ranch as a part of an overall partnership to develop full capability of Big Boquillas Ranch. We'll list those items later,” he said, but added that it could include the mining and quarrying of sandstone, gravel, and some real estate sales.
The group is asking for an expedited environmental review and wants to start construction as soon as they get final approval. Financing is the primary responsibility of USA Green Energy with assistance from Navajo Enterprises. “We're looking for as much tax investment credit as we can that doesn't trigger NEPA,” Honts said.
“We are painfully aware, as you are, that time passes and elected officials' terms have ends. It seems to us 2010 is a good year for us to reach full agreement for us to go ahead so that we can proceed through later changes that democracy might bring about in terms of the Navajo Nation, and we can bring money to bear that's there,” he said.
AECOM's Kelly, who has 30 years in the power business, said there's still a lot more investigation that has to be done. “The area that we're looking at has a very high radiation level, but we have to sample the radiation to see what we see from the USGS reports.”
Resources member Harry Williams told the group, “My grandfather used to tell me when a white man is talking too fast and starts promising you a lot of things, be careful.”
Hirson responded, “The promise that we're making is that we're going to put up the money to dig a well. If we find the water, that's the basis of the function. ... If we don't find water, of course, the project is going to die. If we find water, then we want to have an agreement with you so that the project goes forward.”
Phil Harrison made a directive that the groups work with the Navajo energy task force to move the proposal forward. It was approved 4-1 with Williams voting against.
Cankdeska Cikana Community College Receives $300,000 Shakopee Mdewakanton Grant
by Tessa Lehto
Prior Lake, MN – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has awarded a grant for $300,000 to Cankdeska Cikana Community College of Fort Totten, North Dakota. Cankdeska Cikana, which translates as “Little Hoop” began holding classes in the fall of 1970.
Described as “a small, rural tribal college” by its President Cynthia Lindquist Mala, Cankdeska emphasizes the teaching and learning of Dakota culture and language toward the perpetuation of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. The goal is student independence and self-sufficiency through academic achievement.
“The gift from our sister Dakota band is most inspiring and appreciated. We have been undergoing significant transformation over the past several years regarding financial stability, governance, and student outcomes. An important component to the transformation is infrastructure development for the doubling of student enrollment.
The SMSC recent contribution to our institution will support and enhance several services for students such as our ‘Angel Fund’ for family emergencies and expanded hours for our tutoring program. The gift will also permit us to purchase much needed equipment such as a new snow plow blade,” said President Lindquist, who is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe.
“The generosity of the SMSC really exemplifies the Dakota value of sharing, of helping those who need a hand. Thank you (pidamaya) seems so inadequate but we are most grateful for the kind hearts of the SMSC and particularly the Tribal Council members,” she said.
The Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe owns and operates the college. In the fall of 2009, 251 students were enrolled, and the 2009 graduating class had 42 students. Approximately 94% of the student body is American Indian.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton funds will be used for several different projects: -$100,000 for updated accounting and Human Resources software-$30,000 for recording and graphics equipment for the Multimedia Center-$56,000 for student services development to include furniture, school supplies, internships, scholarships, student activities, peer mediation, work study, expanded tutoring, and a mentoring program-$114,000 for facilities including a snow plow, intercom, tractor with loader, laboratory and shop equipment, a student services van, expansion of a greenhouse, the Natural Resources library, a security station, a campus emergency notification system, and miscellaneous equipment.
Academic Programs at Cankdeska include an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology, Computer Applications, Office Technology, Tribal Administration, and Art (Graphic Art) ; an Associate of Science in Agriculture, Pre-Nursing, and Natural Resources Management ; and Associate of Arts in Accounting, Business Administration, Early Childhood Education, Indian Studies, and Liberal Arts; and Certificates in Carpentry, Finish Carpentry, and Medical Assistant.
Cankdeska Cikana Community College is accredited through the North Central Association of College and Schools Commission on institutions of Higher Education and is a member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges.
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