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tombarnes

Natchez

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First Baptist Renovation- Sale of Stained Glass Windows Stirs Controversy

The developer who is converting the former First Baptist Church into condominiums has removed the stained glass windows and has been offering them for sale at prices starting at $400. Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation denies that she gave her approval for the windows to be sold. The windows were removed in the renovation process, but with the undcerstanding that their removal was only temporary. The windows now sit in a downtown antique shop. The removal of the windows compromises the integrity of the building. It appears as though the developer intends to seel the roof as well. Somehow, this does not look good for the building. I had hoped that this would be a good project for Natchez, but I'm getting the strong impression that this will not be handled appropriately.

The Natchez Democrat

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Lane Company Reveals Part of Their Design

At last, the Lane Company has revealed part of their design for the casino they intend to build at Roth Hill on the Mississippi River. This doesn't tell us much about the rest of the project. As for looks, I have seen much worse, but this looks more like an Oklahoma State Park Lodge than something appropriate for Natchez. I suppose we should be grateful that there are no fake columns and shutters. Why Natchez needs three casinos is beyond me. Thoughts anyone?

The Natchez Democrat

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Lane Company Selects American Gaming to Manage Casino

The Lance Company has selected the American Gaming Co. to manage their planned casino for Roth Hill in Natchez. While the company has some experience in managing smaller casino properties, the company does not have the high profile and experience I might have hoped for in this crucial project. I am ever more worried that this casino will not turn out to be an asset to Natchez. I am hopeful that the coming elections will bring a change of leadership in the city which might bring about more sensitivity to the nature of the historic district. The damage has been done, however, with reference to this project. If it's a bad design, it won't be going away any time soon.

The Natchez Democrat

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Here is a rendering that I located, and subsequently posted on SSP. It is hard to see any details, but in my opinion, appears to be fairly spartan in design, I was expecting better for Natchez.

Grand Soleil

Julie_5_t725.jpg

The $80 million project includes renovations to the former Ramada Inn on top of the hill. When the new hotel is complete it will include 124 rooms, three large meeting facilities, a bar, a restaurant, a sweets shop, an outdoor bar and a pool.

Below, the casino boat will be 375 feet long and 66 feet wide. The height up to the smokestacks will be 70 feet.

The land-based portion of the casino will include a two-story building with a buffet to seat 300 people and a gift shop.

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/business/15341651.html

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What's really odd about the rendering is that the area on top of the hill (to the left) is where the Ramada was and is where the new hotel is being built. The picture does not show us the hotel. The building on the right is the Briars, an existing historic house which will be incorporated into the project. It's very strange that the hotel, arguably one of the most prominent architectural features of the project, is not pictured. I'm also not wild about having the parking spaces for the casino directly on the river bank.

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I assume that much of that figure includes the hotel which isn't shown in the rendering. The fixtures of the boat will account for some of the total, but I agree that the picture does not suggest $80m. It is very curious indeed that the rendering is incomplete.

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Natchez community members should be aware of the effect that the Grand Soleil investment is having on the Lac du Flambeau Tribe in northern Wisconsin.

Lac Du Flambeau consider mortgage to address financial woes

Wausau Daily Herald

There has been approximately 20% of the Tribal employees laid off, and massive cuts to be coming in the next few weeks due to a $50 million dollar bond issue that supplied money into this Natchez Casino. There was federal grant fraud, securities fraud, and other related crimes involved. Sooner or later the truth behind the investors of this project will be coming out, and I do not think that Natchez will be thrilled with the stories they hear.

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Thanks for the information. I'm not convinced that Natchez needs this project. It would appear that there may be more stones in the road for this than may meet the eye. It's horrible to think that the money has been carelessly spent. I hope that a resolution may be found for this unfortunate situation.

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State Supreme Court Sides With City on Condo Issue

While the last has yet to be heard on this issue, a major decision by the state supreme court today says that the city has the authority to sell the land where the Natchez Pecan Shelling Factory once stood- for whatever price it chooses. this is a major setback to opponents of the project. While I am not pleased with the prospect of another cluster of large buildings on the bluff, I have yet to see a proper rendering of what this will look like. The design has been changed several times. On principle, however, I think it's rather stupid for the city to clutter one of its strongest assets with commercial development. the prospect of several casinos in addition to this project presents a serious erosion of the historic district. I'm well aware of the need for living units downtown. I'm merely opposed to building them at this location. the present leadership of Natchez appears to have little grasp of the nature of their city and why it is a tourist attraction. Growth is necessary, but Natchez must learn to plan for smart growth. I don't think this is a good idea at all.

The Natchez Democrat

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More on the Lac du Flambeau and the Grand Soleil

The Lac du Flambeau tribe has invested heavily in the new casino project slowly rising on the riverfront in Natchez. Unfortunately, it seems as though the other casino backers may not have been forthright in their estimation of the tribe's actual financial commitment to the casino. Their required participation has escalated from $30m to over $50m. While they operate a small casino in Wisconsin, this financial commitment is straining the tribal finances and has split the tribe into factions. It also appears as though the problem may get worse before it sees any improvement. Supposedly, the casino and its hotel are proceeding according to schedule, but at what price? I don't know the intricacies here, but perhaps Mr. Poupart will return here with more information. He has been generous in sharing his story with us. I hope that a solution may be found to this deepening quandary.

The Natchez Democrat

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We basically are in a civil war up here. Our side has started a sacred fire that is burning until we get a change in government. A large tent has been set up over the fire and people are watching over it day and night.

There have been crimes committed, grant fraud, co-mingling of federal and state grant fraud, SEC fraud, and who knows what else. Our tribal chairwoman has hired a "goon squad" of felons and drug dealers to intimidate and keep people from speaking up at council meetings. If things continue on the course that they are, there will be violence.

There have been approximately 100 jobs that have been lost due to the loss of the cash flow that used to go to the tribes general fund from the casino that now goes to pay for the loan payments that go for Natchez. The Council supposedly fired the CFO that got us into the bond that is causing all these problems, and now he is reported to be the new CFO in the Grand Soleil. There is another venture that the tribe has got into that we feel is basically a scam, and this was brought to us via people involved in the Natchez venture.

Charles Cato was in court this past week with his lawsuit, and it did not get thrown out like Bayba and crew thought it would. As far as information that we have to date, they still need between $30 - 40 million to complete the project. Assuming that they manage to get money based on equity in Natchez, how in the world would they ever be able to expect to pay any money back to the Tribe?

I can only hope that the State of Mississippi puts their foot down on these people involved, and seriously look IN DETAIL at all that has gone on in the past, the fact that our tribal government has a proven track record of lies and underhandedness, and that it has gotten to the point where a group of grandmas are willing to put theirselves in danger to bring attention to the problems.

IF anyone wants more information, feel free to contact me, and I will provide whatever I can to you. If I cannot answer your questions I can point you to someone that can.

The following is a message I just sent to the Mississippi Gaming Commission this morning:

The media is now turning towards Natchez, and it is only going to get worse for the tribe and Bayba.

Natchez casino lawsuit heads to Florida court

http://lakelandtimes.com/main.asp?SectionI...;ArticleID=7715

Project tears at Wis. Indian tribe

http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/news/2008/a...s-indian-tribe/

Ginew Grandmothers oppose bill to sell tribal lands

http://www.rhinelanderdailynews.com/articl...64160278010.txt

Commission looking into use of casino funds

http://www.rhinelanderdailynews.com/articl...15341427980.txt

Tribal members concerned about casino revenue allocations

http://www.rhinelanderdailynews.com/articl...b5692231787.txt

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More on the Lac du Flambeau and the Grand Soleil

The Lac du Flambeau tribe has invested heavily in the new casino project slowly rising on the riverfront in Natchez. Unfortunately, it seems as though the other casino backers may not have been forthright in their estimation of the tribe's actual financial commitment to the casino. Their required participation has escalated from $30m to over $50m. While they operate a small casino in Wisconsin, this financial commitment is straining the tribal finances and has split the tribe into factions. It also appears as though the problem may get worse before it sees any improvement. Supposedly, the casino and its hotel are proceeding according to schedule, but at what price? I don't know the intricacies here, but perhaps Mr. Poupart will return here with more information. He has been generous in sharing his story with us. I hope that a solution may be found to this deepening quandary.

The Natchez Democrat

There are approx. 3500 tribal members total. We have a constitution that is supposed to be our guiding light. There are around 1700 members that are of voting age. According to the constitution and bylaws, anything expenditure over $10,000 is to go to referendum vote. Not one dime going into this project was ever put up for the people to decide, and the majority of decisions were made by Carl Edwards.

His most recent decision was to give our voting rights to this project to Bill Bayba. We have no say so in where our money goes or is spent. See why Bayba says the things he does? If the ND deletes my comment because they think it is not factual, they need to check this fact with the Mississippi gaming commission.

Would your city government get away with something like this? Would you citizens not rise up in protest? I hope that your voices join with ours over these wrongs. Because if you don't and these people continue in the same way they are doing things in Wisconsin, our problems are soon to be your problems. If they aren't already. Were you aware that most of the construction people were brought in from out of town? How is that for being friendly to your new neighbors.........

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A Very Bad Idea.....An RV Park on Canal Street?

Building an RV park on Canal Street is possibly the worst idea for Natchez that I've ever heard. An RV park? Not only would this be ugly, it would not attract the sort of tourist Natchez should be going after. I hope the new administration will act more intelligently than the last. Let's hope this travesty is stopped before it begins.

The Natchez Democrat

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2901869379_4a2f333d41.jpg

A fleeting glance at the Grand Soleil Hotel under reconstruction. I looked for the riverboat itself, but didn't see it. This hotel is supposed to be finished this month?

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2901869379_4a2f333d41.jpg

A fleeting glance at the Grand Soleil Hotel under reconstruction. I looked for the riverboat itself, but didn't see it. This hotel is supposed to be finished this month?

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2901869379_4a2f333d41.jpg

A fleeting glance at the Grand Soleil Hotel under reconstruction. I looked for the riverboat itself, but didn't see it. This hotel is supposed to be finished this month?

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More Trouble for Grand Soleil....

It appears as though the project's troubles are beginning to be seen by more people than ourselves. I wish that Natchez could see a path for itself beyond recruiting prisons, industry and casinos.

The Clarion-Ledger

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Two Hotels for Sale....

I had seen the listing for the Eola Hotel on Loopnet at $5.9m. Another hotel is now also for sale, the (barely a year old) Hampton Inn near the riverfront has been placed on the market. I would think that the Eola could be purchased and repositioned with a strong affiliation of some sort. As for the rest of the hotels, there are too many new rooms in Natchez for the market to absorb. The market could stand to shrink a bit with the disappearance of marginal properties.

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The short article here does not mention who has acquired the Eola, Prentiss Club and the Guest House, but they have apparently ben sold. Bob Dean no longer owns them, so this might bee a good thing. More tomorrow, I hope.....

Natchez Democrat

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