Cherokee Casino Ramona expansion adds 100 jobs
9/19/2012 4:08:54 PM
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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
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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
BY WILL CHAVEZ Senior Reporter 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.

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