PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a new chairman, the tribe announced today.

Jeff Grubbe, who had been vice chairman since 2007, was elected Tuesday to succeed Richard Milanovich, whose 28-year chairmanship ended with his death from cancer on March 11.

Grubbe has served on the Tribal Council since 2006, and was previously with the tribe's Child Development Committee, Election Board, Gaming Commission and Building Committee. He has been on the Agua Caliente Development Authority
since 2003.

He started as a tribal intern in 1999 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa.

"(I am) humbled and honored to be elected to serve as chairman for the Tribal Council, and will continue to follow tribal traditions of strong leadership, determination and compassion," Grubbe said.

Milanovich, who died in Rancho Mirage at age 69, was a prominent Coachella Valley figure and nationwide leader in Native American affairs. He oversaw the purchase of the Spa Hotel in 1992; the addition of the Spa Resort Casino in 1995; development and construction of the Agua Caliente Casino in 2001; and the opening of the $90 million Spa Resort Casino in 2003 and the Spa Hotel's Well Spirit Center Fitness Center in 2004.

He also oversaw construction of the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa's new hotel and expansion in 2008, followed by the completion of the tribe's entertainment venue, The Show, in February 2009.

Milanovich was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 5, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which governs gambling operations on Indian land.
In May, the Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously to name the Belardo Bridge in South Palm Springs as the Chairman Richard M. Milanovich Memorial Bridge.