July 12, 2014
Green balloons floated to the north on an Iowa breeze and there were more smiles than bubbles in the champagne served at the ground breaking ceremony for Wild Rose Jefferson Thursday afternoon.
About 200 persons were present, standing on rich Iowa soil that until Monday was planted in soybeans. Wild Rose Jefferson will be open by late next summer, according to Tom Timmons, president of Wild Rose Jefferson.
Timmons served as emcee for the short program, which was preceded and followed by music from the Town & Country Band. “Where but in Iowa can you come to a town like Jefferson and have a band playing?” Timmons asked.
Along with many elected officials and members of Grow Greene County Gaming Corp, Timmons introduced Dr Mike Richards and Gary Kirke, Wild Rose vice chairman and chairman/founder respectively. “Thank you for choosing us to be your operator. We won’t let you down,” Kirke said. “It’s going to be great for your community forever and ever… It’s a great day for you all and it’s a great day for us.”
Rep Chip Baltimore (R) of Boone, who serves Greene and Boone County in Iowa’s 47th House district, spoke about the courage it took to get the casino project underway. “It took courage for Mr Kirke and Dr Richards to decide that Jefferson and Greene County is where they’re going to invest their dollars, millions of dollars, to get this project done,” he said. “I look around and I hear the names of the other elected officials, the city officials and the county supervisors. It took a lot of courage to take a public stand and say ‘this is something we’re going to support.’ It took a lot of courage for the citizens of the community to come out in the gaming referendum and vote overwhelmingly, 75-25, in favor of this issue.”
Baltimore’s comments about the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission were interrupted by applause. “It took a great deal of courage for three of the five Racing and Gaming Commission members to vote in favor of this casino application.” He waited for applause to end before he continued. “I will point out that chairman Lamberti, commission member Arnold and commission member Mertz are all former legislators. They get it. They understand how hard it is to actually accomplish something of this size and this magnitude that means so much to this community.”
Praise for Jefferson: “I look around and what I see is a community that cares. I see a community that cares about its members, it cares about each other, about the businesses and the people who live here, and you want to see it succeed.”
Norm Fandel is president of Grow Greene County Gaming Corp (GGCGC), the qualified sponsoring organization that will oversee use of the charitable funds coming from Wild Rose. “Our hats off to Wild Rose. This project would not have happened without their leadership, their advice and support,” Fandel said. He called the casino “a gift that will keep giving for years to come. It’s truly, certainly, a ‘wow factor’ for our community.”
A casino in Greene County was first suggested by Kim Rueter, who sold the 40-acre parcel on which the casino will be located to Wild Rose Entertainment. He spoke briefly Thursday. “This company’s going to be good for the county, not just a business partner, but it’s going to be a friend to the county, and I wish them all the greatest success,” he said.
The ceremonial shovels: Several different groups had their turns to don hard hats and flip shovels of dirt. Site preparation is in progress already. The ceremonial turns of the shovels were moving soil from one side of a pile to another. Timmons offered a champagne toast as the first group composed of (pictured, from left) county board of supervisors chair John Muir, Baltimore, Kirke, Dr Richards, Fandel, Chuck Offenburger, Rueter and Jefferson mayor Craig Berry turned dirt. [WRGB 9]
The Racing and Gaming Commission approved the application for a gaming license June 12. Heavy equipment was at the site the next day, but the rainy June slowed site work some. Timmons said he is still confident the casino will be open late next summer.
Those at the ground breaking saw how definite the intention is to open on schedule. The ground breaking began at 1 pm, and by 1:45, the big machinery was back at work grading and leveling the ground.
Architectural, contractor engineers named: DLR Group is the architect for the project and Edge Companies of Grimes in the general contractor. Several subcontractors and professionals also have been selected for the early phases of the project: Snyder & Associates of Ankeny is providing civil engineering services; McAninch Corp of Des Moines is doing the site preparation and earthwork; Jensen Construction of Des Moines will build the foundation; and Mid-States Steel Corp of Boone will provide structural steel construction services.
The site work now under way will take five to six weeks, according to Edge project manager DJ Opdahl. When that is finished, work will start on the footings and foundation. The project will use approximately 60,000 square yards of paving, Odpahl said.
Grow Greene County Gaming Corp will in the next several months formulate grant policies and procedures as well as establish a process for grant applications. GGCGC will receive a 5 percent share of adjusted gaming revenues, estimated at $1.7 million annually, to distribute to charities, civic organizations and community projects. Up to 20 percent, or $340,000, will be distributed to projects and organizations in Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Callas, Guthrie and Webster counties. ~Victoria Riley, GreeneCountyNewsOnline