HRDC roof collapse aerial view.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — Shoshone-Bannock Tribal departments housed in the Human Resources Development Center were relocated to the old casino after the roof collapsed in the center of the building early February 25.
Interim Fort Hall Fire Chief and Incident Commander Eric King said the roof collapsed at about 2:53 a.m. in the Elderly Nutrition dining room according to information obtained from security cameras. Fort Hall Police officers doing security checks discovered it. Fort Hall Fire and Tribal Facilities staff was contacted that resulted in power and water being shutoff to both the HRDC and Tribal Business Center (TBC) buildings. There was no work for tribal employees that day.
Work resumed for tribal employees located in the TBC side on February 26 however those who work in the HRDC weren’t allowed to return because of safety issues. The affected tribal departments include Elderly Nutrition, 477 programs including Consumer Services, TANF, Vocational Rehabilitation, Higher Education, Learning Lab and Library. The Sho-Ban News was also forced to move and didn’t publish February 28.
At left: Close view of the roof caved in at the HRDC building; right: view inside the dining room.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small said there was too much ice buildup on the top of the roof that may have caused the collapse. Recovery crews are moving everything out of the HRDC and either relocating it to the old casino or it is being placed in Conex containers.
He said the recovery crews are hoping to complete everything by March 8. Contractors are submitting bids but tribal officials don’t yet know if it will be a complete or partial demolition of the building. “We are wanting to keep everyone out of the area,” Small said because a fence has been put up around the building and police are patrolling it at night.
Fire Chief King said only those working on the recovery team are allowed to go in the HRDC. “We are still trying to evaluate the safety of the building.” “It’s not a public building anymore,” he said and the public needs to stay out of the area.
Joyce Hayes, Elderly Nutrition director, said her program was greatly impacted as they lost all of the tables and chairs in the dining room, freezers, refrigerators, a bingo flashboard, “Pretty much everything in the dining room is gone,” she said. In the kitchen they lost the stove, pots and pans, a cash register, a microwave, small ice machine, serving trays. The steam table is gone, along with the two big flat screen televisions and two computers near the dining room door.
Elderly Nutrition Director Joyce Hayes in front of the new dining room.
Hayes found out around 5:30 a.m. February 25 when the cook called to advise she wasn’t able to go to work. Joyce said she wasn’t sure what happened and it didn’t sink in right away until she saw the destruction. “I felt numb.”
They were able to retrieve their office furniture and supplies. They are now located in the former Buffalo Horn Grill for cooking and tribal elders are being served outside of it. The office is in the northwest corner of the old casino.
The program was able to serve tribal elders lunch March 1 with food brought in from Del Monte Meats and they’re also assisting with home delivery to homebound. Meals were served from the Pocatello Senior Center March 4, 5 and 6.
Hayes said next week they hope to be cooking their own meals after the former Buffalo Horn Grill was professionally cleaned and cooking equipment replaced. “The elders are happy we’re serving again,” she said and bingo may start soon after the equipment is obtained.
Ramona Medicinehorse, Vocational Rehabilitation director, said the program is now located in the northwest side of the old casino in the former Player’s Club area. There are still awaiting some of their files to be moved and for network connections to get functional. She said confidentiality is a concern in the area because of surveillance still in the building. They currently have 46 clients they assist with disabilities to regain, retain and obtain employment.
The program is preparing for their biggest event they host that is a Job Fair scheduled March 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Shoshone-Bannock Casino and Hotel. The purpose is to bring in employers for community members and VR clients to access they might not be able to otherwise. Last year over 400 people attended the event that had 55 vendors. Voc Rehab is in the fifth year of grant funding and intends to reapply for another five years.