River delays casino ground breaking

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 18, 2008

NATCHEZ — The Roth Hill Casino was scheduled to break ground April 23 but was forced to reschedule due to an unforeseen impediment — the Mississippi River.

Initially scheduled to break ground at the end of March, the date was pushed back to the end of April because the Corps of Engineers hadn’t issued a permit to Natchez Enterprises, the company building the casino.

Casino officials didn’t predict record-breaking waters that it would cover the base of Roth Hill Road for several weeks.

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Now, after the water has receded, President of Natchez Enterprises Ted Doody said they want to wait a little bit longer before breaking ground.

“We’re waiting to see what’s going to happen with the river,” Doody said. “As we understand it, the spring thaw still hasn’t come and there’s a pretty high possibility water might come back again.”

Doody said what is going to happen is that the river will be closely watched as throughout this month and into June and from that, the decision to break ground will be made.

“If I had to guess right now, from what I understand, it’ll be the middle to end of June when we get a read on what the river is going to do,” Doody said.

In the meantime, there are things being prepared for the ground breaking.

City Engineer David Gardner said he met with the casino’s electrical engineers on Thursday and also with the telephone company the casino the casino will be using.

“We’re coordinating with them on how the utilities will be set up,” Gardner said.

He said he has also been discussing plans with potential contractors and even landscape architects.

“Things are moving along,” Garder said. “Based on conversations I’ve had with people associated with the project, it’s a good indicator that things are moving along.”

He said while it’s not visibly making progress it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any.

“People are busy with the project,” Gardner said. “Even though you can’t see it, it’s a busy project.”

Gardner said he is ready for the ground breaking.

“We’re trying to be patient but we’re anxious for the casino to get started,” Gardner said. “I’m satisfied with the fact that good progress has been made.”

Doody said he is also anxious to break ground.

“I’d say that anxious is an understatement,” he said. “We’ve been working on this project now for over a year and we’re finally ready to break ground and all of a sudden mother nature comes up and forces a change of plans.”

Doody said there is a definite event on the calendar, though.

One June 12 there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony in conjunction with the Country Inn and Suites’ grand opening.

“It’s going to be a good event,” Doody said.