Last Vicksburg Casino Re-OpensBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Jun 2011 04:19pm |
There is another big sign of recovery from the Mississippi River Flooding in Vicksburg. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the last river side casino has re-opened for business.
A slot machine at Diamond Jack's casino in Vicksburg fires up after the casino spent 36 days closed due to Mississippi River flooding.
Casino General Manager Felicia Gavin says the casino continued to pay their employees full wages during the month long closure.
"We employ 400 employees here. And during the time that we were closed they remained Diamond Jack's Casino employees. We did mandatory training during the closure and as you heard we also did community service during the time," Gavin said.
The full return of gaming is important to Vicksburg because the city gets roughly a quarter of its yearly budget from gambling....money the city will need for flood clean up and recovery.
Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield expects the flood will cost the city millions of dollars...but he also thinks much of that will be reimbursed by the federal government.
Winfield says the city will hire private contractors to gather the debris from flooded homes and sort it to meet federal disaster guidelines.
"A lot of local governments make the mistake of doing it in house. And they might not always have the best personnel to maneuver through those federal statues and make sure they don't get conflicted. That is why I think it is more useful to use contractors who chase storms, if you will, because they know the ins and outs and they know how to make sure you get your full reimbursement," Winfield said.
Having all the casinos open also serves as a sign to tourist that it is safe to return.
Nancy Bullard, the owner of Sassafras....a shop in downtown Vicksburg....says national perception of the flood brought a sharp decrease in tourism.
"I suppose that no one would actually make a federal disaster area their vacation destination. We saw about three weeks without really many tourist stop ins, but over the last week we have seen people traveling again," Bullard said.
The Mississippi River is still above flood stage at Vicksburg, but could finally drop below that mark as soon as this week.....nearly a month after the crest.
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