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More than 470 sign petitions to put casino proposal on ballot



Published: Tue, April 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LORDSTOWN -- More than 470 people say Lordstown residents should have a chance to vote on the agreement between the village and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe.

They have signed petitions seeking to put the agreement on the ballot.

The Oklahoma-based tribe says it would create jobs and share a percentage of revenue from a proposed casino and resort. Village council on April 4 approved an emergency ordinance authorizing an intergovernmental agreement with the tribe.

A public vote is sought on that ordinance and the terms it contains; the petition makes no claim on whether casino gambling would be good or bad for the village.

A copy of the ordinance is attached to each petition.

No later than 75 days before the Nov. 8 general election, village Clerk Judith Hall must turn those signatures over to the Trumbull County Board of Election for verification.

The petitioners need 131 valid signatures of village electors, or 10 percent of those who voted in the last governor's race, said Kelly Pallante, elections director. The petition was circulated by Michele L. Krisher of 1405 Tait Road, Martin H. Jones of 2786 Hallock Young Road, and Frances A. Hall of 5184 Highland Ave. Hall declined to comment; Krisher and Jones could not be reached on Monday.

Gambling approval needed

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.

The village's agreement provides 2 percent of the casino's revenues to go to the village and county after seven years; it would be 1 percent for the first seven years as the operation gets financed and established.

Eventually, that 2 percent could mean up to about $4 million a year from the casino operation, officials have said.

The Eastern Shawnees propose a $125 million to $250 million gambling resort that could be built on 137 acres in Lordstown and North Jackson.

The agreement with the village says the operation would create between 2,500 and 3,500 jobs in three phases of the project: gaming facility and food service; hotel operation; and entertainment.

Council voted 4-2 to pass the agreement ordinance. Council members Richard Biggs and Karen Jones voted no -- saying they felt there were too many loopholes in the agreement. Biggs also stressed that many people attended council meetings to object to the ordinance.




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