Democrat Photo by Matt Youngfrau
THERE WERE MANY congratulations at the official signing of the Sullivan County-St. Regis Mohawks casino accord in Monticello on Friday. Participating were, from the left, St. Regis Mohawks sub-chief Harry Benedict, sub-chief John Bigtree, Jr., Chief Alma Ransom, County Manager Dan Briggs, Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy, Chief Hilda Smoke and Chief Paul Thompson.
Officials Looking Forward
To a Future With Casinos
By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 21, 2001 On Friday, August 10, Sullivan County and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe reached an agreement in principle to bring a resort/casino to the county.
It was agreed that the county, the Town of Thompson, and other affected entities would receive a total of $15,000,000 a year. Once a deal is reached between the state and the tribe, the county would receive part of that money in addition to the $15,000,000 agreed upon.
It is considered one of the biggest deals in Indian gaming history.
Before the contract could be signed, both sides had to ratify the agreement. The Mohawks did that on Tuesday, August 14. The county had planned to pass the resolution on Thursday, August 16. They also planned to pass a resolution supporting the Mohawks application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior.
Before the resolutions passed, there was one dissenting opinion.
"I can't support this agreement," stated Legislator Chris Cunningham. "It would be a terrible mistake to bring a casino to this area. It is not in the best interest of the county."
The resolutions did pass, however, 8-1. And on Friday, August 17, a ceremony was held at the Government Center as the formal signing of the agreement took place. Cunningham (as well as Legislators Kathleen LaBuda and Rodney Gaebel) did not attend the ceremony.
"Today we are partners. Tomorrow we will be neighbors," Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy told the Tribal Council at the signing ceremony. "There is tremendous work to be done in Albany and in DC. It will be trying at times. It will also be fun."
"This agreement does adequately address the impacts," remarked Chief Hilda Smoke. "Thank you for your support. We will bring this project to fruition."
The agreement was then signed by Pomeroy and County Manager Dan Briggs. Representing the St. Regis Mohawks was their Tribal Council. Those who signed were Chief Paul Thompson, Chief Hilda Smoke, Chief Alma Ransom, Sub-Chief Harry Benedict, and Sub-Chief John Bigtree, Jr. Also present among the approximately 50 attendees were members of the Kutsher family, who own the hotel near which the casino will be built.
On Tuesday, August 21, The Town of Thompson has on their agenda a resolution for their own agreement with the Mohawks. A story on that agreement will appear in Friday's edition of the Sullivan County Democrat.