At the Ray Elm Children and Elders Center, Kris Wilkins (Wolf Clan) works to ensure the building is safe, clean and inviting. He is the new Building Superintendent and is in charge of maintenance inside and outside of the center.
Kris started working at the Oneida Indian Nation back in 2013 in the old cigarette manufacturing facility on Territory Road and transitioned to the Nation Facilities Department as a laborer shortly thereafter. Toward the end of last year, now-retired Bill Kaulback (Turtle Clan), approached Kris about the Building Superintendent role and he jumped on the opportunity.
“I worked my way up, which has been very rewarding,” Kris said. “There’s no shortage of projects, but I look forward to taking them on.”
Those projects have included replacing HVAC filters, protecting the piping for the new fire suppression system, and removing snow from the copper roof. Snow build up on the roof can be dangerous and requires constant attention from the facilities department.
Facilities is planning a larger project that will allow for better drainage when the snow melts or rain falls. The changes will improve visitor and employee safety, and also beautify the exterior.
“We are going to be extending the sidewalks around the center with more green space underneath where the water falls from the roof,” he said. “Then visitors can avoid those areas all together.”
The excess water that falls from the roof will be much better utilized. Railings will also line the new green spaces to give people additional support when walking in and out of the center during the winter months.
From time to time, Kris also finds solutions to problems in the center’s woodshop. He built the boxes that now protect the fire suppression piping on both the Elders Center wing and Early Learning Center wing, and also built a stand for a new display in front of the Nation’s library. The display showcases the Nation’s newest language-learning books that tell the stories of popular Haudenosaunee legends.
Kris has handed down some of his woodworking abilities to his son, Logan Edwards (Wolf Clan), too. Logan is a senior at Oneida High School and was recently named to the high honor roll. Kris said Logan is looking at trade schools for botany or wood-working to get certification.
“He’s learning from me, but he also wants the certification,” Kris said. “He helped me build a crib for my youngest son, Lucian Sequin. I’m very proud of that piece and spent a lot of time on it.”
Kris’ meticulous attention to detail will serve him well in his new role. The center is in good hands.