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Cascade Locks casino would spur needed tourism development

By ROGER FREEBORN

Special to the News

Congratulations to the Governor, No Casino Group and all others opposing a casino in the Gorge or Cascade Locks. It appears you are very close to achieving your goal of locating a six-story monster on Tribal trust land east of Hood River located in the National Senic Area.

I can't began to put into print how much your efforts frustrate and just outright make me mad. We have expended much time and money developing a plan that would be a win win situation locating a tribal casino in Cascade Locks. This casino would be the "anchor tenant" in our industrial park that we need to attract other smaller businesses and augment our existing businesses.

I believe that we in Cascade Locks are starting to realize that our industrial park will probably never be an industrial mecca (nor will any other park in the Gorge) so, we are seriously exploring the possibility of a tourism based economy.

All one has to do to realize the tourism possibilities is stop in Cascade Locks get out of your car and look around, mountains with trails for hiking and biking and hidden waterfalls and a river for boating, sailing (boards and boats), fishing and much more, historical sites abound. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that Cascade Locks should be a tourist mecca. We understand this, the Warm Springs Tribe understands this, but the "vocal minority" are bound and determined to keep these 800-plus jobs out of our town, which is an Urban Growth Area.

Would you rather see an aluminum plant or steel mill? Come on, we have the joy of living in one of the worst counties in the country for employment and at the same time a business is offering to invest a quarter of a billion dollars and 800 jobs.

The governor's economic recovery plan specifically mentions tourism as one of two industries to get Oregon back on track (unfortunately there is only about $50,000 in matching grant funds available statewide to promote tourism; this might put in a drinking fountain). Like it or not, gaming is Oregon's number-one tourist attraction, Warm Springs has the right to engage in this business and we in Cascade Locks have the right to welcome them to our town. So, we attract tourist with gaming and then show them the rest of our State.

I must assume that those of you that oppose our plan have not taken the time to review it and are just shooting from the hip in your opposition. I welcome anyone to contact Cascade Locks City Hall, make an appointment and we would be very happy to present our plan to you and your group. The individuals who have taken the time to review our plan are personally and privately endorsing it but for some reason have a difficult time convincing their memberships to publically endorse the plan. To those organizations I say be bold come out of the closet and publicly endorse our plan. It is a win-win plan.

Roger Freeborn is the mayor of Cascade Locks

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