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Prairie Island breaks ground on assisted living center

Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal members, from left, Johnny Johnson, Lucy Taylor, Audrey Bennett, Shelley Buck and Rich Buck broke ground Thursday on the site of a new elder assisted living center in Welch. Samantha Bengs RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Bucky Flores, of the National Eagle Center, handled a bald eagle during Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Tribal Council president Shelley Buck said the assisted living center will be a place for tribal elders to call home. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The open fields near Highways 61 and 316 will soon be home to a new living community.

The Prairie Island Indian Community broke ground Thursday on a 38,000-square-foot elder assisted living center located on 18 acres of tribal land in Welch. The assisted living center will serve tribal members.

"The elders' assisted living facility will allow for those who have raised us, taught us and made us into what we are today, to continue living their lives comfortably and safely within our own community," said Shelley Buck, Tribal Council president.

The assisted living center will be a single story building with 24 one-bedroom assisted living apartments. Each apartment will have a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, in-unit laundry and private patio.

Ebenezer Management Services, which specializes in senior housing and care, will operate the center.

Buck said residents will have the benefit and independence of their own apartments and confidence that professional staff is there 24 hours a day.

"(This will be) a place where they will have benefits of friendships, activities and medical assistance, but most of all, a place they will enjoy calling home," Buck said.

The design and operation of the facility will focus on incorporating Dakota culture and community into the assisted living setting with a palette of natural colors and stone, Buck told the crowd gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Knutson Construction, which has been the designer-builder of choice for Treasure Island Resort & Casino, will lead the elder assisted living center project. RSP Architects has been named the designer.

"In Mdewakanton Dakota culture, our elders are revered," Buck said. "They have lived among these hills and valleys for generations. The land is a spiritual place for our people, and our spirit is alive all around us still today."