The Coquille Indian Tribe has reenergized efforts to counter recent criticisms and misconceptions about a proposed $26 million casino that its representatives say would boost the local economy.
"It's really a surprise to us that the city (of Medford) would be opposed to 233 new jobs," said Larry Campbell, a former speaker of the Oregon House who stepped out of retirement to work for the tribe.
The casino would be built at the Roxy Ann Lanes bowling alley, which is still operating, and at the former Kim's Restaurant on South Pacific Highway in south Medford. The tribe also has agreed to lease the nearby Bear Creek Golf Course.
The Coquille tribe has asked the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to place the 2.42-acre property, excluding the golf course, in a government trust. In addition, the Coquilles have asked the federal Office of Indian Gaming Management for an exception to a prohibition on gaming on lands acquired after October 1988.
The tribe acknowledged it was caught off guard by the negative reaction to the casino from Medford and Jackson County officials and didn't respond quick enough to criticisms and misinformation.
"We were just not prepared," said Judy Metcalf, project manager for the tribe.
The tribe has assembled a team of local consultants including John Watt and Lanphier Associates of Medford, who have both worked with local officials and agencies over the years.
Rick Moir of Lanphier said wages at the casino will be 18 percent higher than the average wage in Jackson County. The average wage and benefit package at The Cedars would be $41,416 a year compared to the average $35,148.
— Damian Mann