REGIONAL VIEW southwest virginia

Former classmates want to turn Bristol Mall into a casino resort by Vanessa Remmers

“We’re betting on Bristol!” Two former high school


classmates hope to transform the former Bristol Mall into a casino resort. Jim McGlothlin, CEO of The United Co., and Clyde Stacy, the president of Par Ventures LLC, see their $150 million privately financed venture as an economic boost for their home on the Tennes- see line. Bristol has been hit hard by the regional decline of the coal industry and, more recently, the loss of Bri stol Compressors, which announced in July it was clos- ing its local plant, eliminating 468 jobs.

McGlothlin believes

the casino is “a mix of great opportunity and fun,” but would still preserve a healthy, law-abiding atmosphere. McGlothlin and

Stacy’s bet may be risky. Long resistant to casino gambling, Virginia’s General


State Street in Bristol, Tenn., and Bristol, Va., was named one of 15 great places by the American Planning Associa- tion (APA). The organization’s Great Places program annually recognizes streets, neighbor- hoods and public spaces for demonstrating exceptional character, quality and planning, according to the statement announcing this year’s winners. “Bristol was nominated for State Street for the work both localities have been doing on the street itself. A good many projects have been community-driven and led by both the Virginia side and the Tennessee side,” APA President Earl Anderson said in September. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Photo by Earl Niekirk

he vacant shopping mall’s electronic sign blares a new message:

Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy believe the casino resort would give Bristol a much- needed economic boost.

Assembly must first legalize it. And McGlothlin wants that to happen in the 2019 session before Virginia’s neighboring states license casinos. McGlothlin’s team expects a casino bill to be introduced in the 2019 ses- sion and has been in conver- sations with legislators about sponsoring legislation. Virginia’s position on

gambling shifted this year. State lawmakers legalized historical horse racing, wagering in which players places bet on past races using devices similar to slot

BVU Authority power custom- ers can expect to pay a bit less for electricity in the months ahead. The Tennessee Valley Authority recently approved BVU absorbing TVA’s planned base rate price increase that went into effect Oct. 1. That means most BVU customers won’t be charged the additional amount, which amounts to a projected saving of $555,000. An addi- tional rate reduction is expected to be approved before the end of this year, President and CEO Don Bowman said. In August, the BVU board approved reducing the rates it charges power customers. A customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month is expected to save almost $5 per month or about $58 per year. If approved by TVA, that cut is expected to go

machines. “That was done to help

the equestrian groups. Surely you would want to help a struggling city,” McGlothlin says.

Republican state Sen.

Bill Carrico, whose district includes Bristol, opposed the horse-betting measure. “I’m not committed one way or another to the casino,” Carrico says. “Even if legislation goes through, Bristol people should have the final say through a public referendum.” Plans call for a

into effect Dec. 1 and save rate- payers an estimated $1.2 million. (Bristol Herald Courier)

Emory & Henry College has established a new certification course for athletic trainers to help in filling much-needed posi- tions in the region. Previously, students could obtain certifica- tion as an athletic trainer by either a four-year undergraduate course or two-year graduate course. Starting with this first course in May, the only path to certification as an athletic trainer is through the master’s program. (

Tazewell County is hoping to take advantage of a federal grant to improve internet service in the county. At its Oct. 2 meet- ing, the Board of Supervisors authorized the wireless service

100,000-square-foot casino, a hotel, restaurants, shops, conference center, go-kart track, water park and live entertainment venue. A McGlothlin-commissioned economic study expects the development to create 2,000 jobs and $567 million in local and regional eco- nomic impact. “If we can’t

attract high-tech

jobs, then we have to look at what is being proposed,” Vice Mayor Kevin Wingard says. “I believe this project will put Bristol and Southwest Virginia on the map and turn things around.” For critics, the casino is

seen as a bad bet that could lead to gambling addiction, crime and suicide. “You’re doing this on

the backs of people who will lose $30,000 and $40,000 they don’t have,” says the Rev. Dewey Williams of Belle Meadows Baptist Church in Bristol.

authority to apply for a $4 million grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Interim County Administrator Eric Young said the $4 million is what is avail- able statewide from the federal government. He said the depart- ment of housing and community development is administering the funds in Virginia and the grant requires a 20 percent match. That money could come from the county or a private investor. (


Roy Evans recently celebrated 30 years as commonwealth’s attorney for Smyth County. The Groseclose native took the job as the county’s prosecutor in 1988, when it was a part-time job, and his predecessor,

Danny Lowe, decided not to seek re-election. In August, Evans also was elected presi- dent of the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys. (

Noted Appalachian chef Travis Milton will no longer be involved with the Ses- sions Hotel in Bristol. Milton confirmed in October that he and Creative Boutique Hotels jointly agreed he will step away from the downtown project, which includes plans for two restaurants. First announced in 2013, the Sessions is now expected to open in August. “I’ve been working about 100 hours a week for, like, 18 years now, and it was really starting to take a toll on me,” Milton said. (Bristol Herald Courier)


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