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Forest County Potawatomi Community investing in housing and healthcare with major infrastructure projects

Renderings for the future of the Forest County Potawatomi Health and Wellness Center.
Forest County Potawatomi Community
Renderings for the future of the Forest County Potawatomi Health and Wellness Center.

More than $8 million is being invested in the Forest County Potawatomi Community.

The tribe received two grants from state programs funded with federal coronavirus aid.

The money will go two major projects the tribe has been planning for over a year now.

Carter Housing Solutions

Right now, there are nearly two dozen applicants on a waiting list for tribal housing within the Forest County Potawatomi Community.

This includes people who currently live in the area and those looking to move to Forest County.

The tribe is hoping a major investment into housing will help.

It recently received $4.2 million from Wisconsin’s Neighborhood Investment Program which is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“This is going to allow us to get 16 new housing lots in Carter to give our current residents more options for housing and help bring new residents to Forest County which will add to the workforce and to the local economy,” said Tribal Treasurer Manny Johnson.

The grant funding will also be used to build a new Roundhouse, or spiritual gathering place, with hiking and walking trails that connect work and social sites in Carter.

The goal is to build up a community where people can bike or walk to work, have easy access to healthy food options, participate in cultural activities, and support the local economy.

Construction of the housing development infrastructure will be complete this fall.

The bike and walking paths are schedule for next summer.

While this project has been in the works since last year, Johnson says this grant funding speeds up the process.

“There’s no doubt about that, COVID has had a dramatic effect on our revenue obviously. This will definitely help support us in that endeavor and it speeds up the process dramatically,” said Johnson.

It’s not just this project that the grant money has helped move along quicker.

Closing the healthcare gap

The Forest County Potawatomi Community has a quite the to-do list when it comes to improvements at its Health and Wellness Center in Crandon.

Forest County Potawatomi Community

It wants to expand its pharmacy to include for Medicaid, Medicare, and the general public, as well as add a drive-thru service for the pharmacy.

There are also plans to construct a new registration area, add a new medical exam room, and triage room among other major renovations.

Johnson says it’s the pharmacy expansion the tribe is most looking forward to.

“There are very few options in Forest County,” he said. “When we’re done, quite frankly we could serve the entire county,” he said.

Forest County is regularly ranked among the least healthy counties in the state by UW Population Health Institute.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community is hoping these improvements will help improve healthcare in the county and close the gap in health disparities.

That goes for not just tribal members, but the county as a whole.

“In that clinic there’s going to be some more renovations. It’s going to help us include services like MRI’s, also CT scan services. Which, right now, most residents need to go 25 to 50 miles and we can do that right here at home,” said Johnson.

The tribe got a $4.7 million grant from the from the state’s Healthcare Infrastructure grant program to help with the costs of the wellness center renovations.

Construction is expected to start this summer and be finished in the Fall of 2023.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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