Del Norte graces LA Times' front page

May 20, 2003 12:00 am

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

When Jeannie Rowden-McGinnis plucked her Los Angeles Times from her driveway Sunday, she wasn't sure if she was still at her Orange County home or back in her cherished hometown of Crescent City.

As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, McGinnis was surprised to see a front page article about Crescent City on the national newspaper's front page.

"I just opened it up, and looking down, I saw a picture of the bowling alley and the words ‘Crescent City.' I thought, ‘This is my home town.' And I said to my husband, ‘I have to let everyone up there know,'" McGinnis said.

With the headline, "Tribe Spreads Wealth in Troubled Town," the article describes the efforts of Elk Valley Rancheria and its leader, Dale Miller, to infuse money and jobs into a limping Crescent City economy.

McGinnis, who went to Del Norte High School with Miller, graduating in 1964, moved to Orange County about 1970 and stopped getting Crescent City's paper mailed to her because it seemed like too much bad news all of the time.

So she said she was particularly happy to read Sunday that her hometown may well be back on the rise.

"I've been showing it to everyone that I work with. Isn't it pretty neat that our little town got recognition like that," she said.

The lengthy article spans three pages throughout the newspaper's top section and outlines all of the projects Elk Valley Rancheria has completed and begun the last two years.

Starting in 1999 with the purchase of Harborside Internet, the Rancheria has turned around local businesses such as Tsunami Lanes bowling alley and Del Norte Golf Course, while installing others such as the new sports bar and restaurant in the bowling alley with local sports memorabilia as decor.

It gives particularly good reviews to the rancheria's current project to build a four-story hotel, performing arts center and Arnold-Palmer-design golf course.

Amidst a handful of on-the-street interviews of local citizens and their glowing opinions of the tribe's investments in the community, the article points out the rare and precedent- setting relationship between Del Norte County and the sovereign nation.

"Elk Valley's partnership with local leaders is emerging as a rare ideal in community-tribal relations. It is blooming at a time when other tribes are being picketed and excoriated for plowing ahead with projects that their neighbors say provide little benefit," said the Los Angeles Times article written by Lee Romney.

Miller said he is very pleased with the article and received a call this morning about it from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.

"They were very pleased, and especially that it's good for California Indian gaming," Miller said.

Both Miller and the tribe's chief executive officer, Tim Goodman, said the Los Angeles reporter was here about four months ago, and they weren't sure if the story would ever go to print.

"We didn't know it was going to be a front-page story either. So we were very pleased with how it came out," Goodman said.

Elk Valley Rancheria is a tribe of 100 members, yet it employs more than 200 people currently and expects to employ another 250 when the new resort is built.