News Release


DATE: March 23, 2006

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



SAN DIEGO - Representatives from the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee have awarded nearly $5 million in grants from tribal money paid into the State Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund. The grants, sponsored by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Barona Band of Mission Indians, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, were made available to local government agencies to fund projects benefiting San Diego County.

“These grants will go a long way toward improving public safety, not only in communities impacted by gaming, but for the region as a whole,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob whose district includes the Barona, Sycuan and Viejas reservations. “I am especially pleased that the committee has placed a high priority on improving fire protection. East County, including its Indian tribes, will never forget the devastating Cedar Fire of 2003.”

The Committee assessed the eligibility of 18 applications for grants from local jurisdictions and selected 10 projects including road improvements, a Sheriff’sSubstation in Alpine, the acquisition of a new Paramedic Ambulance, a Traffic Unit Critical Incident Response Unit and a new interface fire engine.

“The people of Barona, Sycuan and Viejas are proud of what we have been able to accomplish through the Indian Gaming Benefit Committee,” said Thorpe Romero, councilmember for the Barona Band of Mission Indians. “Over the past three years, we have awarded more than $14 million dollars in grants. We really have helped make a significant difference in dozens of local communities and it is our hope that this fund will continue to bring even more money for us to distribute in San Diego County.”

After assessing the needs of local communities and the recommendations of the Indian Gaming Local Benefit Committee, the following projects were selected:

  • Alpine Sheriff Substation: $750,000
  • Wildcat Canyon Road: $3,210,000
  • District Attorney’s Tribal Liaison: $353,329
  • Intermountain Fire Station Water Well: $25,000
  • Gambling Counselor Training and Certification Process: $49,600
  • Fire-Rescue Department Portable Live Fire Training Unit: $175,000
  • Interface Fire Engine: $233,475
  • Fire Department Safety Gear Upgrade: $38,682
  • Paramedic Ambulance Acquisition: $100,000
  • Traffic Unit Critical Incident Response Unit: $45,000

TOTAL: $4,980,086

“Sycuan is proud once again to be able to contribute financially to the community through the special distribution fund,” state Sycuan Tribal Chairman Daniel Tucker. “We take our obligations as a responsible government seriously, and we hope that these grants will make a positive impact on the surrounding communities through improved services and programs.”

The members of the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee include San Diego County Board of Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Sheriff Bill Kolender, San Diego County Assessor Greg Smith, and El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis. Tribal representatives on the committee include Danny Tucker, chairman of the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Alan Barrett, councilmember of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Thorpe Romero, councilmember of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

“Our ancestors, growing up on the Reservation, would have never dreamed that one day our people would have the opportunity to make such a significant contribution to the local community,” said Alan Barrett, councilmember of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. “I am especially proud of the millions of dollars contributed to the County of San Diego; not only this year, but in years past. This has allowed for projects and services that the County wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford.”

The Special Distribution Fund was created after California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1A, an amendment to the California constitution which authorized the State to enter into compacts with Indian Tribes for limited forms of gaming, in March of 2000. The compacts require tribes, which were engaged in gaming in 1999, to pay into the Special Distribution Fund. During the compact negotiations, Barona, Sycuan and Viejas worked together to ensure that a portion of the money the three original gaming Tribes pay into the fund would be used to directly benefit San Diego County.