Ground broken for hotel/casino

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate April 29, 2013 05:35 pm

Left to right: Tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke and council members David Gensaw Sr. and Jack Mattz break ground.
Left to right: Tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke and council members David Gensaw Sr. and Jack Mattz break ground. Del Norte Triplicate / Adam Spencer
The Yurok Tribe held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for a hotel and casino expected to be completed next spring on its reservation in Klamath that officials say will bring dozens of short- and long-term jobs to the community.

The 60-room hotel and 125-machine casino will be designed in the same redwood-plank style as the tribal headquarters facility, reflecting traditional Yurok structures.

The hotel/casino is one of the first of many large projects that the tribe is undertaking “to build a base economy for our people, to generate funds and to create something not only for our people and for our community, but for people at large from around the world to come here to visit and that we may share our culture, our traditions and our ways with the outside world,” said tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke at the ceremony.

The tribe’s current projects include:

• An already constructed $1 million fish processing plant in Requa. The tribe is in the final stages of finishing equipment installations and building a smokehouse for commercial fishermen.

• A Yurok Tribal Justice Center that will include a courtroom with full facilities and other justice services.

•  Yurok cultural knowledge park, which includes a 125-seat amphitheater.

• The Yurok Visitor’s Center.

• The Klamath Boulevard Improvement project to revitalize that commercial area.

Mandy Mager, project manager of the hotel/ casino, said that at least 50 percent of the work will go to local sub-contractors and that about 200 people expressed interest in positions at a Yurok job fair held Wednesday.

“We’re trying to make sure we get as much tribal and local workers on the job as possible,” Mager said.

Peggy O’Neill, planning director for the Yurok Tribe, said that these projects will provide a different type of jobs.

“The tribe provides a lot of jobs already in the county and many of those require college degrees. These jobs don’t necessarily have to have college degrees so they are good jobs for tribal members going to college because they can go to college during the day and work in the evenings,” O’Neill said.

“It’s a great opportunity for economic development, not just for the tribe and their economic sustainability, but for the community as a whole,” said county Supervisor David Finigan, whose district includes Klamath. “And it’s not just a casino we’re talking about; we’re talking about a destination hotel, a justice center, and a visitor center. So you’re really talking about redefining the Klamath area and allowing it to grow once again. I’m excited for them; I’m excited for Klamath, and I’m excited for the county.” 

Yurok Tribe officials said they expect to bring heavy equipment to the site across from the Yurok Tribe headquarters Monday and start stripping the site and grading.

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