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Tribe readies for Omak casino construction

Dirt at site scheduled to move within two weeks

— Construction is scheduled to start in less than two weeks on the Colville Confederated Tribes’ new casino just south of town.

The project will include a 500-machine casino and table games, two lounges, two restaurants and an 80-room hotel, said Randy Williams, Colville Tribal Federal Corp. chief operating officer for gaming.

It also marks the first time the corporation has been able to sign for the $68 million financing loan on its own, based on the strength of its operations, he said.

“It’s an important aspect in the growth of the corporation,” he said.

For previous projects the tribe has had to guarantee the loans.

The Colville Business Council gave the project its blessing Feb. 21. Financing will be through Key Bank.

Williams said the tribe plans to start moving dirt around April 14, with a 12-month construction schedule planned.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be planned once the land is cleared and leveled enough so vehicles can get in.

In late 2009, the tribe purchased land along U.S.

Highway 97 south of the Rodeo Trail Road overpass and north of the state Department of Transportation maintenance shop. Access to the casino site will be across the road from the Fairgrounds Access Road.

The tribe spent more than $2 million to purchase land and consolidate the land.

Williams said the $43 million casino and hotel will sit on about 40 acres of the 300-acre site, and will employ about 200 people.

Aside from gambling, the 56,000-square-foot facility will include a fine-dining restaurant and an upscale Asian cuisine restaurant, and a three- to four-star style hotel with pool, exercise room and other amenities.

“It will be a very sizeable casino, he said, noting it will be twice the size of the tribe’s Mill Bay Casino near Manson. “It will be the flagship casino for the tribe.

“For grandeur and look, it will compare with any in the state,” he said. “It will be a showcase facility.”

Williams said the tribe studied the area and the market and sized the facility “for the area.”

Taylor Woodstone of Bloomington, Minn., was picked to build the complex, CTFC CEO Joe Pakootas said.

The company has experience building tribal gaming projects and Las Vegas casinos.

Williams said he’s not sure how the company will incorporate local sub-contractors, but anticipates that companies meeting Taylor Woodstone’s price, quality and other standards would have an opportunity to work o n the project.

Utilities will come from the city of Omak.

Given the site’s size, there’s plenty of room for expansion. Future plans call for an RV park and entertainment venue.

Williams said the tribe has been working with the state Department of Transportation for access from the highway. He anticipates turn lanes similar to those at the Tribal Trails gas station less than a mile north of the casino site.

It’s not yet known what will happen to the current Okanogan Casino, at 41 Appleway in the south end of Okanogan, although last summer Pakootas said it would be closed when the new facility is finished. The Okanogan Casino has 432 games, but no table games, lounges or other amenities.

Williams said the gaming division will make a recommendation, but the CFTC board will decide on the Okanogan site’s fate.

The gaming division anticipates running more bus programs into Canada.

“That’s part of our overall growth and expansion” plans, he said, adding that other businesses in the area will benefit from the increased traffic.

Last summer, Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley said he’s excited about the project. He could not be reached this week for additional comment.

Another planned tribal project in the same area calls for development of an industrial park on Colville Indian Plywood and Veneer property south of the main mill and across Rodeo Trail Road from the back side of the Tribal Trails station, Pakootas said.

The tribe would provide infrastructure and act as a landlord. Tenants wouldn’t have to be tribally owned businesses, but would have to comply with the tribal-preference Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance, he said.

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