Despite the gambling issue in North Carolina being set aside in this year’s state budget, Halifax County commissioners are holding a special meeting Monday in which the casino and gaming question is the sole agenda item.
That meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the boardroom of the Historic Courthouse on KIng Street in Halifax. The county today sent out a special meeting notice.
The board will be asked to support a resolution similar to the one shot down on a 3-2 vote this past Monday.
Board Chair Vernon Bryant said Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott is expected to present information on the economic impact and financial benefits of having a casino in the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District. “Additional information will be shared as it relates to the casino and the impact that it will have on Halifax County, Roanoke Rapids, surrounding municipalities and counties.”
Bryant said that while casino legislation isn’t included in this year’s state budget, “We know the casino is still in the mix. Halifax County management and myself and state representatives know that while it didn’t exist in the current budget, it’s not completely off the table for future consideration. I’m certainly optimistic (it will be discussed) in the near future including the short session of the North Carolina General Assembly.”
With that in mind, Bryant said, “We want to be in a good position if and when the casino bill comes back up before the general assembly.”
Included in the online agenda packet is a resolution, similar to one Roanoke Rapids City Council passed last week and one shot down by commissioners Carolyn Johnson, John Smith and Sammy Webb.
“I’m very hopeful and optimistic that the board of commissioners will approve this based on the new information they receive,” Bryant, who along with Linda Brewer voted for the resolution, said. “None of us probably had enough adequate information at that time. That’s probably why the vote went the way it did because some of us felt we didn’t have adequate information.”
Bryant said he believes should Carolina Crossroads be ultimately approved for a casino it will be a game-changer. “We’re a Tier 1 county and we have faced many challenges including losing the textile mills, coupled with a decline in our population over the years, which has led to us to move the needle when it comes to economic development and giving our citizens opportunities in terms of jobs and quality of life.”
The board chair said it’s just not a casino under consideration. “We’re talking about an entertainment district that will be family-oriented. If in fact we’re able to receive a casino in Halifax County, we will move from a Tier 1 to Tier 2 county.”
While some concerns were registered about security, Bryant said casinos are well-secured and staff will work in cooperation with local enforcement.
And while there will be some low-paying jobs, Bryant said information he has received shows there will be high-paying jobs at or above the average salary in the county.
“I think if we’re able to receive the casino and enhance the entertainment district to make it family-friendly it’s going to move the needle with industries coming to Halifax County and help education. I just think it will be a win-win.”