Jackson County Commissioners Presented with Casino Plans

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, April 23 2013 at 6:21 PM, Updated: Tue, April 23 2013 at 10:01 PM

It's a controversial proposal that's pitting one Native American tribe against another.

On Tuesday in a packed room, the Coquille Tribe outlined their plan to put a casino on South Pacific Highway in Medford.

Cal Mukumoto, CEO and Board Chair of the Coquille Economic Development Corporation showed commissioners slides of the project area.

"Our plan is to convert Roxy Ann Lanes into a Class II gaming facility," said Mukumoto.

One concern discussed at the meeting: a study commissioned by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians saying a casino in Medford would mean $22-million less going to Oregon schools, economic development and environmental projects.

"There's not a shred of data specific to our proposal they didn't even have the address of the location right," said Mukumoto.

"The studies that were put forward about the economic impacts to the Oregon lottery were responded to with the idea that it was a bad study. Of course they've provided no information so everybody is in the dark," said Wayne Shammel, General Counsel for the Cow Creek Tribe.

"Some of our concerns are traffic impacts," said Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick.

"That will be handled through the environmental impact statement process that the federal government will conduct," responded Mukumoto.

Next, Commissioner Skundrick said he wanted to talk about crime.

At the Coquille Tribe's North Bend casino, which is larger than the one proposed in Medford, calls for law enforcement...

"Comes out to an average of 87 calls a year, annually," said Brett Kenney, the Coquille Tribe's attorney.

He added none of the crimes were violent.

As for the "one casino-per-tribe" policy?

"It doesn't exist. I haven't seen it, have them produce the mythical document that says that exists," said Mukumoto.

But on the other side, Shammel said "We all shook the Governors' hands over the years and said it is all our understanding."

The federal government will be the ones making the final decision regarding a casino in Medford.

Right now the Coquille Tribe has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put the land they purchased in a government trust, which could lead to reservation status, then a casino.

The tribe claims it would bring money and about 233 jobs to the area.

At 6pm Tuesday night the Coquille Tribe presented their plan to the Medford City Council.      

It's expected on Thursday, the Cow Creek Tribe will present their side to the commissioners.     

Also on Thursday, the city council will allow public input on the casino at their 7pm meeting at City Hall.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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