Speak Your Piece: Red-State Roulette

[imgbelt img=casino_aeriel.jpg]Facing a nearly half-billion-dollar budget shortfall, North Carolina is fast forming a dependence upon Indian gaming to help pay the state’s bills.

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The last big state highway project here in Cherokee County was the 1986-2008 U.S. 64 relocation of 4.9 miles by N.C. Dept. of Transportation from the center of Murphy to east of N.C. 141. This culminated after clearances by Tennessee Valley Authority, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife (whose biologists in diving gear netted 84 native freshwater mussels and moved them upstream in the Hiwassee River), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State Historic Preservation Officer.  From saving mussels to the budget, this environment comes through.

Specialized and trained employees tend to move among Harrah’s locations, so how many new jobs will the Cherokee tribe’s Harrah’s Valley River Casino and Hotel actually bring to the state’s only county named for it?   How will traffic increase in a county seat with a population of 1,601, not a few like me, behind the wheels of well-worn pickup trucks?  We residents soon will have some answers to these questions as the pace of life quickens here.

Tom Bennett is a retired Atlanta newsman.

A message from the Rural Assembly

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