Colville’s new government center: Q&A with Michelle

Back in July 2013, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation lost their administrative headquarters to a fire. Through strong leadership and savvy use of tax credit financing, the Colville tribal government was able to close three separate New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) transactions in 2014 to fund construction of the new tribal headquarters.

Travois acted as NMTC consultant, and LISC, EcoTrust and Waveland contributed approximately $35 million in tax credit allocation. U.S. Bank provided $8.5 million in equity.

The building opened last year and was named to honor the legacy of Lucy F. Covington.

We spoke with Colville employee Michelle Smith about her experiences with the new building.

Q: Can you describe your experience in the old modular buildings?

A: I may be one of the happiest people to move into the new building. When I first came to work for the Fish and Wildlife Department, five years ago, we were in a remodeled garage from the old “post and pole days.” There was an old oil spill out there, and you could see the remnants of that seeping up the walls. There were many other issues with the water and pipes. Then they moved us to the old Department of Transportation building. This was also a garage. Here we go again; it had different issues, such as pack rats, mice and the never-ending water leaks.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the new building?

A: I route contracts for our department, and the new space makes it much easier because we’re all centralized. Plus, I get plenty of exercise!

Q: Do you eat in the lobby café often? What are your favorite items?

A: Yes, and my favorite is definitely the super nachos. The staff is great, and they make it a point to keep people happy.

Q: Is there anything about the building that you really love and that you’d like to tell other tribes to incorporate into their new building?

A: When the old A-frame administration building burnt down, we lost a lot of artwork, especially Native art work. I look forward to seeing our people’s artwork in the new building.

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your thoughts with us! Travois staff look forward each year to our site visit of Colville’s new administrative building.

Some highlights for us are definitely the spear-fishing statue and fountain out front, the wonderfully well-lit lobby and, of course, the loaded baked potatoes in the café.