SANFORD (AP) – The leader of the Penobscot Nation offered assurances to the Citizens Casino Advisory Task Force that two tribes remain focused on Sanford as the site for a $650 million resort and casino.

Wary that other towns might be considered, the task force’s vice chairman, Bradford Littlefield, asked for some sort of commitment, “perhaps a formal vote by the tribal council, that’s what we’re looking for.”

“You see us sitting here tonight. Right now, we’re focusing on Sanford,” Penobscot Chief Barry Dana answered.

Despite verbal assurances, there has been no contract worked out between the town and the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. Town Administrator Tom Ursia has said negotiations have not yet begun.

Dana said other towns have placed calls to his office wanting to talk about a proposed resort casino. “We’re here in Sanford, were looking at Sanford, and I think we can make Sanford work,” he said.

Dana and Passamaquoddy Gov. Robert Newell said they felt optimistic about the outcome of the Nov. 4 election. State voters must approve a casino before the tribes can move forward with the project.

Following the session, Newell said once the proposed main casino is operating, plans remain for a satellite in eastern Maine.

Newell noted that mills in both Penobscot and Washington counties, where the tribes’ reservations are located, are shutting down, idling not only millworkers but woods workers and truck drivers.

“We’re trying to create an economy on the reservations and the surrounding towns,” Newell said.

AP-ES-09-05-03 1430EDT

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