Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lodge Grass Mayor Quincy Dabney fills out forms on his laptop in an effort to get a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help deal with the town’s cottonwood problem. Branches have been falling from the trees that dot the town, and Dabney is worried that a falling branch might hurt someone.

‘You got to clean’

Lodge Grass mayor stresses high standards and transparency for town government
Over the past month and a half, Lodge Grass Mayor Quincy Dabney has been reorienting himself to his new job – less construction work and coal mining, as he did in the past, and more Robert’s Rules of Order.
According to Dabney, he intends to help bring in community improvement projects and grants, but to do so, he wants to first clean up the town – burned-down buildings and broken tree branches have been a persistent problem.
“Before you build, before you bring in beauty, you got to clean,” he said in late January. “The trees here are wreaking havoc. We had five branches in the past month just dropping out of nowhere.”
Lodge Grass – which also includes four aldermen – currently has a committee figuring out ways to mitigate the town’s issue with cottonwood trees, more of which may fall in the future. Dabney is looking into acquiring a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help mitigate the problem.
Though the town’s government may have its flaws in the opening stages, Dabney said, he intends to run Lodge Grass at “a high standard” and with “transparency.”
“When people see something that has transparency, they can back that up,” he said. “They can say, ‘I can get behind that. I can be a part of that.’”
Newton Old Crow Sr., now on his second term as alderman, agreed with Dabney’s emphasis on town cleanup. He doesn’t consider himself a politician, Old Crow said, but he joined the town government with the intention of stopping Lodge Grass from “going downhill.” According to Old Crow, he keeps his “own corner” of the town clean and encourages others to do the same.
 “I want to help improve the town financially, [along with] the morale,” Old Crow said. “If I see something wrong, I will not hide it and I will not condone it.”
One of his larger projects as a member of town government, Old Crow said, was to work with the town council toward revamping the Lodge Grass lagoon system, which was constructed in 1944 and at maximum capacity. Currently, the lagoon has a new water tank and sewer system, and proposed improvements for the wastewater treatment facility were put up for rebid on Jan. 7.
Also present for the beginning of the lagoon system revamp back in 2013 was Alderman Lanile Lion Shows, who mentioned that what happens in town can have a good or negative effect on all of its residents.
She works part time at the only grocery store in Lodge Grass, Little Horn IGA, and wants more business people “to come in and get things done.”
“There used to be a lot, way back then,” she said of previous decades, stressing the importance of strong infrastructure. “Our school is falling apart. We need a new school or something.”
Alderman BethYana Pease, a community organizer who like Dabney was newly-elected, said integrating with Old Crow and Lion Shows will be important when attempting to start programs she and others have planned for the town. After her first town council meeting on Jan. 9, Pease and Old Crow will be working together on Lodge Grass’ new Economic Development Committee.
One idea, which she calls Lodge Grass Cub Scouts, is set to be implemented in cooperation with the Crow Tribal Road Department.
“We’re going to bring in a bunch of new scout leaders, males from our community like my husband and a couple older people I know,” Pease said. “This year will be good, because now we can bring in girls. It’s not just going to be boys-based.”
She also wants to bring areas outside Lodge Grass – who buy the town’s water – “in on everything we do.”
“My future is, hopefully, they can get a vote in our elections,” she said. “They’re just as much a part of this town as anybody.”
Dabney believes the town can bring back places it used to have – a coffee shop, movie theater, recreation area and more.
“Man, when you’re on the bottom,” he said, “the sky’s the limit.”
Though she was unable to be present for the interview, Alderman Dana Barlett communicated through Pease that Lodge Grass was “blessed of the Lord.”
To help move forward, Lion Shows said, more people should show up to the town’s monthly meetings, which are held every second Tuesday of the month. Even when she wasn’t an alderman, she said, she showed up to learn what was going on around town.
“They’re open to the public and hardly anyone shows up,” she said. “They need to be here.”
The next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on March 13 at Lodge Grass City Hall.