LEWISTON — Local convenience store owner Steve Roop said his confidence in a proposed Lewiston casino convinced him to join the effort.

“I’m just glad they approached me and gave me the opportunity,” Roop said Thursday. 

He and Stavros Mendros announced Roop’s affiliation with the casino investment group at a short news conference at Roop’s newest store, Roopers on Lisbon Street.

“My role is just to be supportive,” Roop said. “I really don’t bring much more to the table than Stavros, Peter and Ron. They have a good grip on what they do.”

Roop joins local anesthesiologist Ron Chicoine, Lewiston resident Peter Robinson and New Hampshire anesthesiologist Tim Poutre and his wife, Wendy Chicoine-Poutre, as a partner in  Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC. The group seeks to get a casino question on the November statewide ballot.

If voters say yes, the group hopes to turn the massive, saw-tooth-roofed Bates Mill No. 5 building along Main Street into a casino.

Mendros, manager of the effort, said the partners would not disclose their ownership shares.

“He’s now an investor and we’re very glad to have him,” Mendros said. “Steve and (wife) Elaine are exactly the kind of people, with the vision and commitment to the community, that we want to have associated with our effort.”

Roop owns three Roopers convenience stores in Lewiston — on Main, Sabattus and Lisbon streets — and a fourth on Minot Avenue in Auburn.

“My concern more than anything is for fellow businesses along the Lisbon Street corridor and restaurants and things like that,” Roop said. “I find that their vision for the casino is very positive. They are very supportive of the idea.”

The group has handed in the signatures it collected to get the matter on this November’s ballot. The petitions and signatures are being vetted by the Secretary of State’s Office. Mendros said he expects a bill to put the matter on the ballot to go before legislators by the end of March.

Voters in Lewiston approved an agreement in June, giving the casino group the option to purchase Bates Mill No. 5 for $150,000. 

The group made its first $10,000 payment to the city in June. A second $10,000 payment is due Feb. 28, and a $30,000 payment would be due July 31. A final $100,000 payment would be due Dec. 31, 2011, nearly two months after the matter goes before voters.

The group estimates it would return between $21 million and $30 million to state, regional and local governments and efforts each year.

That money would go to a wide array of groups, including local towns and would-be competitors. As much as $4.5 million could go to local governments — Lewiston, Auburn, Androscoggin County and surrounding towns.

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