President Biden Advisor Susan Rice tours GRIC
April 21, 2023
On Tuesday, April 4, President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor and former Ambassador Susan E. Rice visited the Community. During the visit, Ambassador Rice toured the Community beginning at the Huhugam Heritage Center, where Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Lt. Gov. Monica Antone, and members of the GRIC Community Council greeted her upon arrival.
The visit allowed Ambassador Rice to view some of the innovative water and education improvements in the Community. The tour included the new Casa Blanca Community School (CBCS), the site of the new Gila River Police Dept., Managed Aquifer Recharge Site #5 (MAR-5), and the location of the Community’s proposed solar-covered canal project.
“Thank you to everyone for welcoming me. It’s a real honor to be here today. On behalf of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and all of us back in Washington, ,D.C., it was very important for us to have the opportunity to show our appreciation and respect for this extraordinary Community,” said Ambassador Rice.
Gov. Lewis presented Ambassador Rice with a necklace made from a cactus rib at the Huhugam Heritage Center before departing on the Community tour.
On the first stop at CBCS, Principal Franklin provided a tour of the new school, highlighting many of the enhanced features of the campus. She shared that many technological upgrades to the school became vital during the pandemic, including the remote learning system the teachers and students used.
CBCS is one of two schools constructed using the 105(l) lease agreement. GRIC developed this innovative lease and has paved the way for new projects to break ground, including a new Gila River Police Station in Sacaton.
Later in the day, Ambassador Rice toured MAR-5 and learned of its significance for conserving water and bringing back wildlife and plant life to the Community. Henrietta Lopez provided the tour, detailing the benefits of the plants at MAR-5 and their use for basket makers.
The tour concluded with the future site of the Community’s solar-covered canal project. Ambassador Rice learned that this project would be the first in the Western Hemisphere and could generate sufficient energy to offset the Gila River Irrigation Drainage District (GRIIDD power demand). And the project would make GRIIDD the first and only completely green irrigation district. Among the many benefits, the solar-covered canal project will also conserve water from evaporation while generating energy.