Mohegan Sun officals tout potential jobs, other benefits of proposed Palmer casino
By Pamela Metaxas
November 04, 2009, 11:28PM
CHICOPEE - Mohegan Sun officials and consultants Wednesday night hosted the second in a series of “community conversations,” this time in Chicopee, touting the many benefits of a Western Massachusetts casino including jobs, spin-offs to the local economy and enhancement of the entire region.
Peter J. Schultz, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority project coordinator, hosted the event at the Days Inn on Memorial Drive from 5 to 7 p.m.
Schultz, as well as Ashley H. Hause, account coordinator for consultants O’Neill and Associates of Boston, said the informal gatherings kicked off with the first one on Oct. 27 at the Springfield Sheraton. Future events are planned for Springfield, Agawam and Ludlow, although details are not final.
The series on the authority’s proposed casino off Thorndike Street in Palmer is an outreach to the public, business leaders and other community organizations to discuss the most significant economic opportunities for the region.
Legislators may consider bills for legalizing casino gambling in the state in January.
Brendan G. Doherty, a resident of Forest Park Manor in Springfield, attended the meeting and said he is in favor of a casino.
While enjoying refreshments, Doherty said, “It will bring jobs. When people complain about the types of jobs, I say, half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. I like the land in Palmer for a casino,” said Doherty.
Several members of the Pioneer Valley Jobs Coalition attended to lend their support for the casino, saying it will have multiple benefits, particularly for jobs, in the region.
George R. Monte, a coalition member, said, “It’s definitely about the jobs. I worked for a casino in Indiana for 3 1/2 years in security and I saw what it did for the town and community - all the jobs it created.”
Monte and his wife, Carol, moved to Lawrenceburg, Ind., when her job at Proctor and Gamble brought them to that state, but they kept their home in Monson.
Monte worked on a casino boat on the Ohio River which has since been replaced by an even larger casino boat, he said.
While he could not gamble because of his employment, Monte’s wife said they brought family and friends there frequently.
“It is such fun and a good time and its all about benefits to the towns. It turned this town around,” she said.
The Springfield meeting was attended by Palmer casino opponent EmmaLadd Shepherd, of Monson, co-president of Quaboag Valley Against Casinos. She counted predatory gambling, gambling addiction and traffic among the reasons she is opposed to the Palmer casino. Shepherd said the construction jobs may pay well, but she has heard the opposite about the casino jobs.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Is this the same Peter Schultz, who was the Vice Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, under Chairman Mark Brown? How are the Mohegans going to fund this project? At what interest rate? Are they going to pay 11% to 12% like they (the Mohegan Tribe) agreed to, for $200 Million ($200,000,000.00) just recently? What do you think?