Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks during a Sept. 17 dedication ceremony for the new Cherokee Casino Ramona in Ramona, Okla. Behind him is a 45-foot tall and 12-foot wide steel oil derrick with the Cherokee syllabary as part of the design. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Casino Ramona expansion adds 100 jobs

Cherokee Nation leaders and Ramona residents officially opened the new Cherokee Casino Ramona with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 17. The 31,000-square-foot casino, located south of Bartlesville, replaces a much smaller one and offers more amenities. COURTESY PHOTO Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks during a Sept. 17 dedication ceremony for the new Cherokee Casino Ramona in Ramona, Okla. The 31,000-square-foot casino replaces a smaller one and offers more amenities. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation leaders and Ramona residents officially opened the new Cherokee Casino Ramona with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 17. The 31,000-square-foot casino, located south of Bartlesville, replaces a much smaller one and offers more amenities. COURTESY PHOTO
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
09/19/2012 04:08 PM
RAMONA, Okla. – About half of the 200 jobs needed to operate the expanded Cherokee Casino Ramona will be new positions and filled by Cherokee Nation citizens, tribal officials said during the casino’s Sept. 17 dedication.

“We are thrilled to open this new casino because it allows us to add nearly 100 new jobs to the area, as well as economic development opportunities for Ramona, Ochelata and Bartlesville,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our casinos exist to provide jobs and opportunities for our citizens, so I’m proud to say that 100 percent of our new hires at this location are Cherokee citizens.”

Because of added space and amenities, nearly 200 employees are needed to work in the new $18 million casino. Ramona Mayor Cyle Miller said having 200 jobs in a small community such as Ramona means a lot and that the town appreciates the tribe’s contributions for local schools, fire departments, police departments and infrastructure.

Baker said the new casino could draw other businesses to its vicinity, which would create more jobs and opportunities for Cherokee people. He added that the casino’s profits would contribute funding for the tribe’s health care needs and allow Cherokee Nation Businesses to “grow its other businesses” for the future.

“When gaming goes away, the Cherokee Nation will be strong and grounded in other businesses, creating more jobs for our Cherokee people,” he said.

After opening two years ago, Cherokee Casino Ramona’s popularity was a welcome surprise for Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials. So much that CNE expanded the facility from 11,000 square feet to 31,000 square feet because it was too small for the large crowds that visited it.

The new casino features the Ramona Grill, a café-style restaurant; the Watering Hole bar; entertainment space; and 500 electronic games.

Cherokee Casino Ramona General Manager Rusty Stamps said 200 games have been added and include new titles such as “Wheel of Fortune,” as well as progressive games that were not available before.

He said progressive games are tied to other casinos throughout the United States and earn higher jackpot winnings. Stamps said games are switched out about every 90 days.

The Ramona Grill is a full-service restaurant that seats 100 guests compared to the previous restaurant that seated only 16.

Live entertainment will be at the Watering Hole stage area each weekend. Seating is available near the stage as well as a bar area where guests can order drinks while enjoying country and rock ’n’ roll bands Friday through Sunday. Stamps said retractable sound panels near the stage will keep the music confined to the bar area.

Near the casino’s main entrance sits a replica of an oil derrick, which commemorates the area’s link to Oklahoma’s petroleum industry. Cherokee National Treasure Bill Glass Jr., his son Demos and Cherokee artist Ken Foster created the 45-foot-tall, 12-foot-wide steel tower that includes the Cherokee syllabary.

The six lines of Cherokee syllabary are meant to describe a second derrick of the same size the men are working on that will be placed in front of the casino later. Reading from left to right and top to bottom, the translation reads “Cherokee. Rising from the ashes, Phoenix. By itself, flying. The fire is flaming up. I am talking. It’s here/Hello/Win.”

During the dedication ceremony, Baker honored the Shawnee family that leased the land on which the casinos sit and presented family members with a Pendleton blanket.

According to the Washington County Assessor’s Office, William Shawnee owns the land that CNE leased for the casino in 2010. According to CNB records, Cherokee Nation Entertainment paid Shawnee an advance of $600,000, as well as annual lease fees of $325,000.

CNB records also state that the annual lease fee will increase to an unspecified amount in 2013.

CNE’s lease runs through 2020 with additional renewal options of 10 years each, and upon expiration of the lease, all improvements revert to the landowners, CNB records state.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years.

Election

BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/29/2015 12:33 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission certified voting results from the June 27 general election during a special meeting on June 29. Winners for the eight races in which a victor was declared are: • Bill John Baker, principal chief, • S. Joe Crittenden, deputy chief, • Rex Jordan, Dist. 1, • David Walkingstick, Dist. 3, • Shawn Crittenden, Dist. 8, • Dick Lay, Dist. 12, • Buel Anglen, Dist. 13, and • William “Bill” Pearson, Dist. 14 There will be two run-off elections slated for July 25. In the Dist. 6 Tribal Council race, Natalie Fullbright will face Bryan Warner. In the At-Large Tribal Council race, Wanda Claphan Hatfield will face Betsy Swimmer. The EC will mail runoff absentee ballots July 13-14. Voters interested in early walk-in voting can do so from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 18 and July 21- 23 at the Election Services Office in Tahlequah. Election day voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at precincts inside the tribe’s jurisdiction. The EC election timeline states the recount request deadline was 5 p.m. on July 1. Recounts were scheduled for July 2-3 with Supreme Court justices in attendance. The election appeals deadline was July 6. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court was expected to hear any of those cases on July 7-9. Candidates elected to office during the general and runoff elections are to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. For more information on the upcoming runoff elections, call 918-458-5899. According to the EC, the June 27 election had 19,298 ballots cast out of 63,703 registered voters. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/6/9397_officialvotecount.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the official count document.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:26 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to the certified election results of the June 27 general election, William “Bill” Pearson beat Keith Austin by one vote to win the Tribal Council’s Dist. 14 seat. Results show that Pearson received 534 votes for 50.05 percent of the ballots, while Austin received 533 votes for 49.95 percent. The Cherokee Phoenix contacted both candidates, but neither was available for comment at the time of publication. The EC certified the results at on June 29. Candidates have until 5 p.m. on July 1 to request a recount. Recounts are scheduled for July 2-3 with Supreme Court justices in attendance. The election appeals deadline is July 6. Provided there are any appeals, the Supreme Court will hear those cases July 7-9. Candidates who are elected to office during the general and runoff elections are expected to be sworn in Aug. 14, according to the tribe’s election timeline. The runoff election is set for July 25.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:18 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified election results, former Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen will return to the Tribal Council to fill the Dist. 13 seat. Anglen, who previously served as Tribal Councilor from 2002-13, won the race with 63.67 percent of the votes at 517 votes. His opponent, Kenneth Holloway, had 36.33 percent or 295 votes. Election Commission officials returned to the Election Services Office on June 28 to count challenged ballots and included them in the final unofficial results. The EC certified the results on June 29. Anglen said, to be safe, he would wait until the challenged ballots were counted before commenting. He could not be reached at the time of publication. Holloway, who conceded the race around 9 a.m. on June 28, congratulated Anglen and offered his support and prayers as Anglen moves into office. He also thanked his supporters. “I want to thank God first and foremost, then my wife who is my biggest supporter and kept me going, my family and everyone who believed in me on this journey to become Dist. 13’s Tribal Councilor,” he said. Dist. 13 covers most of the northeast Tulsa County and part of western Rogers County. Inauguration day for elected officials is set for Aug. 14, according to the Cherokee Nation’s election timeline.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
06/29/2015 01:13 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Dist. 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay has retained his seat during the 2015 general election, according to certified election results from the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission. Results show Lay, of Ochelata, received 61.18 percent of the votes with 446 ballots, while his opponent, Dora Smith Patzkowski, received 38.82 percent of the votes with 283 ballots. Lay is expected to begin serving his second term on Aug. 14, the day when tribal elected officials are inaugurated. “Feeling very humble, grateful and thankful today,” Lay said. “Thanks to my wife and family they have allowed me the time to have the privilege to serve the Cherokee people. Thanks to all of our family, friends, and supporters who made it happen. Old friends and new worked hard to get it done. God bless you all and God bless the Cherokee Nation.” Patzkowski, of Bartlesville, could not be reached for comment before publication but said in an earlier statement her top legislative priority for the Dist. 12 was to improve health care and housing for CN citizens. Dist. 12 includes Washington County and part of Tulsa, Rogers and Nowata counties. The EC certified the general election results on June 29.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
06/29/2015 01:03 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to certified results, Natalie Fullbright and Bryan Warner will face each other in the July 25 runoff election for the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 6 Tribal Council seat. According to certified results of the June 27 general election, Fullbright received 44.11 percent of the votes with 618, while Warner garnered 35.76 percent with 501 votes. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to contact Fullbright but was unsuccessful. Warner said he is “proud and humbled” to be in a runoff race for Dist. 6. He added that it has been hard work to get to where he’s at and he will continue to work hard for the seat. “We plan on continuing to work hard, I think it’s important as a potential council member to work hard,” he said. “Then if you’re left to be elected, that’s when the real work starts.” He also extended his appreciation to all of the CN citizens who cast their votes for him. “One thing like I’ve always told all of them is it’s a group effort, and I feel like I want them to be part of this process because if I’m elected I’ll continue to inform and have the citizens be aware of everything, use their ideas with mine to do the best job possible,” he said. Dist. 6 covers the eastern part of Sequoyah County. Brian Keith McCoy came in third with 11.85 percent or 166 votes, and Ron Goff came in fourth with 8.28 percent or 116 votes. Runoff absentee ballots will be mailed out on July 13-14. The EC met on June 29 to certify the results from the general election. Candidates who are successful in their races are set to be sworn into office on Aug. 14.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Phoenix Intern
06/29/2015 01:01 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Incumbent David Walkingstick defeated four challengers for the Cherokee Nation’s Dist. 3 Tribal Council seat in the June 27 general election. Walkingstick garnered 686 votes for 54.1 percent of the total ballots cast, according to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission's certified results. Those results also listed Kathy Poor Kilpatrick as Walkingstick’s closest competitor at 25.16 percent with 319 votes, while Larry Pritchett finished third at 12.22 percent with 155 votes. Brian Berry followed at 7.33 percent with 93 votes, and Brandon Girty rounded out the candidates at 1.18 percent with 15 votes. “It feels really humbling that people have confidence in my leadership, but I also have a lot of respect for the other candidates,” Walkingstick said. “It’s exciting to see qualified candidates come out and want to be a part of these exciting times for the Cherokee Nation.” Walkingstick indicated the campaign was hard won, but beneficial in terms of moving forward. “I met a lot of good people along the way and I got to see my constituents in their environments and their lifestyles,” he said. “I worked harder this time than what I did last time, and I think it was because of the potential I see that the Cherokee Nation has to help people. I care so much for the Cherokee people and I know I’m the guy that’s going to deliver.” Walkingstick said he’s already looking to get back to work, indicating a desire to continue finalizing the $60 million dollar Indian Health Service Joint Venture Construction Program project announced in January. He also said he wants to increase scholarship amounts for students, as well as seek out grants to build storm shelters and install storm sirens in rural communities. “We have so many unfinished projects that are going to not only benefit our generation, but generations to come,” he said. “I’m lucky to be elected four more years to finish out those projects. God has blessed the Cherokee Nation, and I’m honored to be a part of that.” Dist. 3 covers the southern portion of Cherokee County. The EC met on June 29 to certify the general election results. Walkingstick will be sworn into office on Aug. 14, the tribe’s inauguration day.