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Referendum Passes to Allow Guests at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia to Gamble;
Greenbrier Management Remains Silent on Any Plans for a Future Casino
By Davin White, The Charleston Gazette, W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 6, 2008 - A small majority of Greenbrier County voters approved a referendum to allow guests at The Greenbrier resort to play video lottery and table games.

With all 30 precincts reporting, voters favored the referendum by a count of 6,683 votes for and 6,317 against.

"It is an economic development issue," County Commissioner Brad Tuckwiller said before all the votes were counted. He favors the referendum.

He's talked to county commissioners in Kanawha and Ohio counties, "and they're hiring people" with table games, he said.

"I sure would like to be in that position," he said.

Unions favor the referendum, and fear the economic anxiety brought by a struggling economy. They hope to spur more revenue at The Greenbrier amid a long-running labor dispute with management.

The Greenbrier management has remained quiet on the issue, and no one even knows if they would create a casino.

Some area ministers, such as the Rev. Mark Flynn of Lewisburg, oppose gambling and say it leads to crime, bankruptcy and divorce.

"It looks as if it's going to pass, which I think is a sad thing," Flynn said before the final results. "Since the 1980s I've fought every effort to expand gambling. We've won some and we've lost some. ... I'm afraid there are other people who have lost who just don't know they have lost.

"I do think the neighborhood video slot parlors are worse than casinos," he said. Flynn said he's told some local and state politicians that neighborhood parlors need to go. The politicians tell Flynn that if casinos open, they'd close the neighborhood parlors.

"I plan to remind them what they said," Flynn said.

Flynn has admitted that casino opponents weren't very organized. They were caught by surprise when county commissioners held an emergency meeting in September and voted to place a referendum on the ballot.

Commissioners did so at the request of the Council of Labor Unions, whose members hope high rollers would boost year-round business.

The referendum needs a simple majority of voters to pass it.

Pending an official canvass, Greenbrier voters also barely favor a $37.7 million school bond issue that would heavily renovate Greenbrier West High School and replace the 85-year-old Rainelle Elementary and Lewisburg Elementary, built in the late 1800s.

With all precincts in, 6,518 voters favored the bond issue while a close 6,430 opposed it.

The bond also includes $1.3 million to build a new gymnasium at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School.

The school system has secured $10.6 million in state School Building Authority money, which is contingent on the bond's passage.

The bond needed a simple majority of voters to pass it, Tuckwiller said.

In other contested races, Republican James W. "Jim" Childers defeated Democrat Bruce Hosey in the race for Greenbrier sheriff, with 6,677 votes to 6,397 votes. Neither is an incumbent.

In a race for one spot on the county commission, Democrat Karen Lobban defeated Republican incumbent Lowell C. Rose, 8,073 to 4,868.

Patrick I. Via, a Republican, defeated Democrat Martha J. Fleshman 7,285 to 5,536 in the prosecuting attorney's race. Via and Fleshman are vying to replace prosecutor Kevin Hanson.

Several candidates ran unopposed, including: Brenda J. Smith, Brenda L. Campbell and Charles D. Beard for magistrate; Steven Keadle for assessor; abd David M. Sanders for family court judge.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Charleston Gazette, W.Va.

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