The food desert in Choctaw Nation is starting to get smaller after a groundbreaking ceremony for the third Choctaw Country Market.
The groundbreaking was held Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in Coalgate, Oklahoma. Due to the weather, the ceremony was held at the Choctaw Community Center.
“This will be a great service to our community that will improve the lives of our tribal members,” Chief Gary Batton said.
“Our focus is on economic growth for the Choctaw Nation which is providing opportunities for growth and job development,” continued Batton.
The Choctaw Country Market will be 10,200 sq. ft. and will create 28 jobs. The Country Market will offer a deli, bakery, fresh produce, a butcher shop and five fuel dispensers.
The Country Market will be located at 1102 S. Broadway St. in Coalgate and plans to be open by the end of 2019.
“It takes a vision to create businesses and opportunities in order to keep expanding and we can’t do that without great leadership,” District 12 Councilperson James Frazier said.
“We are excited to open this new Country Market because at the end of the day we work for the Choctaw people,” Frazier stated.
Currently, there is only one grocery store in Coalgate.
When the store caught fire on July 7, 2016, it left Coalgate residents without a local place to shop for groceries.
In the year and a half, it took for the local store to rebuild residents had to drive to either Ada or Atoka.
For some residents, the 15-minute drive to either store was difficult due to a lack of transportation.
Local transit assisted the best they could to help local residents.
When the new Country Market opens it will give residents another option to shop for groceries.
Choctaw Nation has pinpointed food deserts in the 10½ counties and is working on bringing quality grocery stores to communities that have little or no options to shop for basic necessities like food.
The first Choctaw Country Market opened in Clayton in the summer of 2016. The second Country Market, located in Boswell, will be open soon.
During 2018 construction projects were completed and finished across the entire 10½ counties of the Choctaw Nation.
The year started with the groundbreaking ceremony for the Choctaw Nation Judicial building at the end of January. The judicial building will be completed by Spring 2019.
Thanks to the LEAP program 100 families became homeowners and moved into brand new homes.
The mission of the new lease purchase program is to build strong families and vibrant neighborhoods through quality affordable housing and strengthened financial stability for the tribal members served.
The goal of the program is to assist families with credit issues to become mortgage ready and lender qualified over time with credit counseling services.
The neighborhoods built through the Housing Authority consist of homes ranging from three to four bedroom, two bath homes that are 1,400 to 1,600 sq. ft.
The homes also come equipped with new appliances, including stoves, dishwashers and refrigerators.
The Choctaw Nation Housing Authority has been helping Choctaw tribal members since 1965.
Ribbon cuttings for LEAP homes were held in Cameron, Heavener, Coalgate, Antlers, Idabel, Broken Bow, Stigler, Wilburton, Hugo and Atoka.
Construction has started on the Choctaw Cultural Center. The cultural center is expected to be completed in February 2020, depending on the weather.
The new Choctaw Nation Headquarters was completed, consolidating over 30 Choctaw Nation services that had previously been spread throughout Durant under one roof.
Some departments in the Commerce division also moved into the new headquarters.
The headquarters is located on Chukka Hina, near the Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Clinic and the Durant Wellness Center.
The Durant campus also houses the Choctaw Nation Community Center, Food Distribution Center, and the Child Development Center.
A walking path winds around the campus for those who would rather exercise outside, or walk between the different buildings and ponds.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held for Independent Elder Housing in Broken Bow and Antlers, as well as the Poteau Wellness Center and the Broken Bow Community Center.
In June there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the Choctaw Ammunition Rimfire Factory in McAlester.
The 20,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility will hold some of the most sophisticated equipment in the ammunition industry.
The manufacturing capacity of the facility once it is completed is 700 million bullets annually, which averages out to over 20 bullets per second.
It is estimated Rimfire will bring 70-80 full-time jobs to the community, including management, sales, chemistry, engineering, ballistics, maintenance, precision metal forming, material handling, machine operation and support positions.
The facility will produce two calibers of Rimfire ammunition, .22 Long Rifle and .22 Winchester Magnum.
Currently, there are less than 10 manufacturers worldwide which produce .22 caliber Rimfire ammunition.
The .22 caliber ammunition is extremely popular among shooters, but at times is very difficult to find.
The Choctaw Nation will continue to grow as more construction projects are scheduled in the upcoming year.
Among them is the third expansion to the Durant Casino & Resort, which is scheduled to break ground in April.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Dec. 10, 2018, for the Choctaw Country Market in Coalgate. This will be Choctaw Nation’s third Country Market.
Kristy Gilpatrick and her family take in their new home during the LEAP ribbon cutting in Stigler. Gilpatrick was one of 100 families who became homeowners in 2018. The goal of the LEAP Program is to assist families with credit issues become mortgage ready and lender qualified over time with credit counseling services. Construction of LEAP homes will continue into 2019.
There will soon be a new addition to the Choctaw Country Markets. The newest market will be located in Coalgate, Oklahoma. The first Choctaw Country Market, located in Clayton, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. The Choctaw Country Market in Boswell, will be opening soon. The Boswell and Coalgate markets will carry products similar to those found in the Clayton store, including fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a deli. The Choctaw Country Market in Coalgate is expected to open toward the end of 2019.