RUMFORD – Undaunted by last week’s casino siting in Oxford pending the whim of November referendum voters, this mill town will host a debate on the issue next week

Conducted by the River Valley Growth Council from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, in the Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School, CasinosNo! spokesman Dennis Bailey will square off against Vote Yes casino spokeswoman Pat LaMarche.

Debate format

Bailey and LaMarche will be given five minutes for opening remarks, then moderator John Hopperstad, a WGME-13 daybreak news co-anchor, will ask each to respond to about 25 questions prepared in advance by the council, according to council President Rich Allen.

Afterward, LaMarche and Bailey will take questions from the audience. The debate, which will be filmed by the local access channel, is expected to last two hours.

“This is the first time we’ve held something like this,” growth council President Rich Allen said Tuesday afternoon. “I think it will make for an interesting debate.”

In June, the council hosted a public forum in Rumford with LaMarche, then working for Rumford lawyer Seth Carey’s Oxford County casino initiative campaign.

The purpose of that forum was to hear opinions before statewide voters cast ballots at the Nov. 4 polls.

Equal time sought

Prior to the council’s Oct. 1 board meeting, the board was approached by Bailey, who sought equal time, both Allen and council executive secretary Beverly Crosby said.

“We’ve never taken a position either way on the casino, but I thought Seth has done a lot of work on this and I’d like to congratulate him on his effort,” Allen said.

Casino impact

Last month, Las Vegas-based casino proponent Olympia Gaming bought 75 percent of Evergreen Mountain Enterprises, Carey’s company that got the referendum question on the ballot.

While Olympia Gaming chose Oxford over Rumford for its resort casino, Allen said it would still impact Rumford and the area economically.

That’s why they decided to host next week’s debate.

“If the debate is as lively as we think it will be, we hope to get a good crowd,” Allen added.

For more information, contact the council at 369-0396.


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