The new $2.5 million Choctaw Regional Maintenance Facility officially opened its doors Friday following a ribbon cutting by Tribal, state and federal officials.

 The 13,960 square foot comprehensive regional maintenance center is located on tribal lands in the Choctaw TechParc behind the Chahta Enterprises building.

The new facility will provide services for tribally-owned transit vehicles, along with vehicles which belong to other public transit operators in the East Mississippi region, and vehicles (including school buses and emergency vehicles) assigned to other tribal programs.

The entire project was $2.5 million with $2.4 million funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is administered through the FTA. MDOT provided the remaining funds. The construction of the new facility was imperative in maintaining efficient operations of Choctaw Transit's 40-vehicle fleet.

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured remarks by Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson; Craig Carter, Assistant to Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall; U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration Region IV Regional Administrator Dr. Yvette Taylor and Mississippi Department of Transportation's Director of Intermodal Charles Carr.

"This is a wonderful moment for us," Chief Anderson said. "With this new maintenance facility, we will provide increased services to our tribal vehicle fleet, and we will open our doors to work with area transit operators in East Central Mississippi.

"I thank everyone involved who partnered with us to make this much needed facility a reality."

"It is exciting to be here at the ribbon cutting just nine months after the groundbreaking," Anderson said. "This building is another benefit of the wonderful partnerships the Tribe has with MDOT and the FTA. I thank Commissioner Hall, Dr. Yvette Taylor and the funding/ administrative agencies for their support."

Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said his office has enjoyed working with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and transit providers throughout the area "to provide not only more efficient services, but to also provide greater connectivity to more destinations that citizens need to enhance their quality of life.

"Access to public transit services is an essential part of providing the safe, affordable and efficient transportation system that we strive to maintain."

FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan agreed.

"Access to affordable public transit is a lifeline for hard-working families, students and seniors in rural communities across the country," she said. "We are proud to invest in this new facility to improve mobility for members of the Choctaw tribe and other residents traveling to East Central and Meridian community colleges, and other destinations in East Mississippi."

Choctaw Transit currently serves a five-county area of Kemper, Neshoba, Leake, Newton and Winston counties, and is an active member of the East Central Transit Action Group (EZTAG) region which includes Clark, Jasper, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott and Smith counties.

Choctaw Transit provides a variety of services to tribal members but also services non-tribal members who live along the service route.