Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed a contract between the Navajo Nation and Arviso Construction Company on Feb. 7 to build the Dennehotso Convenience Center.
Published February 8, 2018
DENNEHOTSO, ARIZONA – President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed a contract yesterday to begin construction on the Dennehotso Convenience Center. Located in a rural area along U.S. Highway 160, the Dennehotso community is miles away from a place to purchase everyday items such as gas and produce.
“When this is finished, you won’t have to go all the way to Kayenta for a jug of milk!” President Begaye said to applause during the signing ceremony at the Dennehotso Chapter House. “This took a lot of work, a lot of hands. Not just one person or two people—it took a whole community working together to make this happen.”
Vice President Nez said, “It’s great to see the community members of Dennehotso take on self-governance and self-sufficiency by drafting up the plans and bringing them to the table.”
President Begaye and Vice President Nez thanked the community and local leadership, past and present, and the Division of Economic Development for their efforts to plan, compromise and collaborate on the store.
According to former Dennehotso Chapter President Frank Yazzie, the initial main push for the store was made by a local land use planning committee in 2002.
“This is a beautiful day for Dennehotso,” Yazzie said to the crowd at the signing ceremony. “As your former chapter president, I’ve always said, ‘We’re not the ones that make the decisions for you. You’re the ones who made this. All these community developments were initiated and completed because of you. I want to say Ahéhee’ to you.’”
“Today is the fruition of what we talked about, where we’ve been,” he added.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown, who represents the communities of Dennehotso, Chilchinbeto and Kayenta, was also in attendance and expressed his appreciation for all those involved.
“The last time we had a trading post was decades ago,” Delegate Brown said. “It’s been a while and ever since then, our community has been traveling to Kayenta and Mexican Water stores. Even the buses here for the Dennehotso School has been going to Kayenta for fuel.”
Delegate Brown said the school buses travel over 50 miles round-trip to purchase diesel fuel from the gas station.
When complete, the 6,700 square-foot convenience center will house a gas station, laundromat, deli and convenience store. Arviso Construction Company, who won the bid to build, is set to begin work shortly and is expected to complete the project by the end of this year.
“The convenience store will encourage locals and tourists to buy Navajo and open possibilities for future community projects, such as providing local produce,” Vice President Nez said.
Funding for the project came from the $150 million Permanent Trust Fund Income Five-Year Expenditure Plan, which is drawn from the interest of the Permanent Trust Fund, not the principal.
“This project is an example of why we need to protect and continue investing in our trust fund accounts,” President Begaye said. “Our leaders of the past had the foresight and the discipline to save. That’s why we have the money to build today.”