Council OKs pact with Indian tribe
Council voted 4-2 to pass the ordinance.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LORDSTOWN -- Village council on Monday approved entering into an agreement with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, which wants to build a Las Vegas-style gambling casino here.
But that doesn't mean a casino will be built anytime soon.
Mayor Michael A. Chaffee said during Monday's regular council meeting that the agreement would go into effect only if the state approves Class 3 gambling, which is currently illegal in Ohio. Class 3 allows a facility to have table games. Gov. Bob Taft has repeatedly said he opposes casino type gambling.
If the state doesn't approve that type of gambling, the agreement will be void, officials said.
"I think it is in the best interest of Lordstown to have an agreement in place in the event it does become legal," said Councilman William Dray.
Dray and other council members said the agreement provides 2 percent of the casino's revenues to go to the village and county. That could mean up to about $4 million a year from the casino operation.
"Without that agreement, we wouldn't get that 2 percent," said Councilman D. James London.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is proposing a $125 million to $250 million gambling resort that could be built on 137 acres in Lordstown and North Jackson.
Terry Casey, a consultant who represents the tribe, told council last month that the resort would bring between 2,500 and 3,500 jobs paying about $30,000 annually.
Council voted 4-2 to pass the agreement ordinance. Council members Richard Biggs and Karen Jones voted no.
Both Biggs and Jones said they felt there were too many loopholes in the agreement.
Biggs also stressed that numerous people have attended the past three council meetings to object to the ordinance.
"I think tonight we had 16 people [speak] against it and seven for it," Biggs said. "I don't think there is a rush to get this passed."
More than a hundred people packed inside city council's hearing room to listen to the discussion on the proposed gambling resort. While many said they were excited about the additional jobs to the area, others said they felt the casino could cause more harm than good.
Many said they felt the casino could cause more people in the area to go bankrupt, and others felt council didn't spend enough time researching the proposal.
"You are not listening to the people because the people are telling you to slow down, but instead you are moving like a train," said the Rev. John Temple of Warren's Northmar Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. "There has been no committee to study this, and it has not been fully discussed."
Some residents, however, said the casino would bring jobs and entertainment to the area.
"I have to inherit this area, and this will bring jobs here, we need jobs," said Drew Himes, 18, of Vienna. "I think this could benefit the whole area."