6 - October 7, 2011 | Hudson - Litchfield News
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by S. Aaron Shamshoyan Rockingham Park could undergo serious renovations if expanded gaming were to pass in New Hampshire allowing for video slot machines.
After a recent visit to The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in
Washington County, Pennsylvania by Selectmen Chairman Elizabeth Roth, Salem Chamber Executive Director Donna Morris, local business leaders Larry Belair and Michael Collins, and Rockingham Park’s Executive Director Ed Callahan, a forum was held at Rockingham Park to discuss the tracks future if a gaming bill were to pass.
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Millennium Gaming currently operates The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, and plans to buy Rockingham Park if slots are allowed. Moderator Scott Spradling, from Fix It Now, opened saying, “When you start looking at the basic layout of the numbers you find some remarkable similarities,” relating Rockingham Park to the Meadows. “Our stats, our opportunity, your location here, the rich history of Rockingham Park, and the great plan that’s been laid out for its future make for an even greater promise then the reality that they’ve seen at The Meadows.” Spradling continued, saying reports estimate the facility has generated $1 billion gross since 2006, with $600 million going to the state. Roth was the first to give input about the trip, saying she felt the area to be much like the greater Salem area, explaining they landed
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his courage to regain any movement possible. Matty Sera and Matt Degruttola, Rangers Drive friends were in Boston when they got the terrifying call that Christopher was badly hurt. They immediately set off for Lebanon. Degruttola said, “During that long drive we kept wishing we would wake up from a really bad dream, we couldn’t believe it, we were in shock all the way there.” Sera echoed Matt’s thoughts and added, “I’ve known him since we were five years old. Life has changed not only for Chris but for all of us, and it will continue to change as time goes on, but one thing that will not change is that I will be by his side always.” Several fundraising events have taken place, with the latest
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one on Saturday night, October 1. Over 300 of those remarkable friends gathered together and freely spent their money on raffles, auctions, CDs and fellowship, all for Christopher who could not be with them. As the day went on, baskets for raffles continued to appear, family and friends decorated White Birch Function Hall in an autumn flair. Bob and Kate Dufour, Christopher’s brother and sister-in-law worked silently preparing for the event. Bob and Christopher have been inseparable, best friends their whole life, along with Maura their sister. Friends, Kevin Radziwon and Ciara Groom were by their side along with Dan Garnett. Kevin was there, “because Chris would be here for me, it’s as simple as that.” Ciara said, “Whenever I feel down I think of Chris and he gives me faith, courage and hope every day whether he knows it or not.” Dan, who gave his newly released CD for donations at the event, said simply, “I love Chris, there is no other option than to be here, family pulls together, that just what friends do.” The wounds for this very close family are still raw, they are embarking on the next step into a new reality as Chris is scheduled to come home next week and his new life will begin knowing that “he’s got a friend.” Many in fact who will do anything for him. For more information or to make a donation contact Bob Dufour at email@example.com
or Terri Sera at 598-6319 who has been instrumental in all the fundraising activities and is a Rangers Drive mom.
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Puzzle 13 (Easy, difficulty rating 0.31) Generated by http://www.opensky.ca/
9 2 4 Rockingham Park Expanded Gaming Forum 5 7 3 7 1 3
6 Future Plans for Rockingham Park Presenters Larry Belair, Donna Morris, Scott Spradling, Beth Roth, and Mike Collins 8 2 4
at an airport about 45 minutes from the casino, and the drive felt like that of Boston to Salem. She also was able to see their business district on the way. “The difference between their strip and Route 28 was the vibrancy of the economy,” said Roth, mentioning beautiful stores, outlets, hotels, and much retail. For Morris, residential
development around the facility stood out to her. “People choose to live next to the city.” She also said there was an industrial park about eight miles from it, containing around 20 businesses. Belair took note of the rural landscape in the area. He also said the facility was 27 miles
from Pittsburgh and only 37 from another casino, allowing for competition between faculties. “If they can do it there, we can do it here.”
Speaking on jobs potential, Morris said the casino employed 1,300 people, and allowed for 2,600 more positions externally. She said the jobs paid around $40,000 a year and up with over 52 percent being eligible for tips in addition. Belair added, “This outfit voluntarily and continuously pays everybody not less then minimum wage.”
Morris was also intrigued to learn about a gift card point system that could be used throughout the community, not just inside the casino. Points could be earned through gambling in the casino. Because of this Morris said,” Over $3 million spent within 10 miles of The Meadows.” Belair added the points could be spent on almost anything including a carwash and a plumber. Bringing up the history of Rockingham Park, Roth spoke on jobs formerly provided by the track. “When we had thoroughbred racing at Rockingham Race Track, this racetrack was vibrant and it supported many local businesses.” She said since losing thoroughbred racing, over 1,000 jobs have been lost. Roth had also inquired about the increased staffing to the police department, to which she was told no increase was necessary, and that the casino had an internal security department. “Not one police officer was added to the police department,” she said. Roth also learned the casino works with the local fire and safety department, providing them with needed equipment to support the facility.
As to state and local income, Belair said the county received over $44 million since 2006, and was able to turn that money into $200 million. The town also received an annual income of $1.6 million, and that 15,000 people visited on weekends. With a Massachusetts gaming bill close to passing, Roth discussed competition to the casino, pointing out that The Meadows has competition only 37 miles away. “This is a private industry, as tax payers and as citizens of New Hampshire, we can leave the business up to them.” Callahan closed out the event speaking on behalf of Millennium Gaming. “They are ready to go when the legislature says yes.”
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