Chamber plans ‘escape to the beach’ during Rivergate 2014
The Tunica Rivergate Festival, now in its 22nd year, continues its focus on family fun during its two-day run later this month.
Added for 2014 especially to appeal to kids are pony rides and a petting zoo on both days of the festival, Friday and Saturday, April 25-26. These join an already full line-up of child-oriented activities, including inflatables, the 5th Annual Children’s Bicycle Race, and the Skin & Bones Circus, returning from last year’s popular debut.
Harrah’s Tunica announces June 2 closure
Tunica’s only true resort property, Harrah’s, announced March 26 that it will close June 2, throwing about 1,300 employees out of work. Three-quarters of those employees are Mississippians, with “something less than 400” living in Tunica, according to Chamber of Commerce CEO Lyn Arnold.
The announcement is another blow to a county that recorded the state’s highest rate of unemployment in February, 17.3 percent.
Company officials cited increased competition in the market, where 48 states now have some form of gaming.
Development continues despite budget cuts
Ongoing efforts and projects for economic development continue despite a 10 percent budget reduction across the financially-unstable county, officials said.
The Tunica County Board of Supervisors approved the cuts in early February, District 4 Supervisor Henry Nickson, Jr. confirmed. The board is currently seeking even more ways to reduce spending and increase revenue but careful to sustain economic development, he added.
“To be efficient and to be fair, 10 percent was cut all across the board. We’re still not in the safe zone. We’re going to have to go back and pull our pants tight, and we’re going to have to cut more,” he said “But economic development is vital. We wouldn’t put that in jeopardy.”
Tunica County does not have an internal department for economic development. This function is handled by a “public-private organization,” according to Lyn Arnold, President and CEO of both Tunica Chamber of Commerce and Tunica County Economic Development Foundation.
Judge declares mistrial in hwy. murder case
After an hour delay on what would have been the third day of proceedings, officials announced that a mistrial had been declared in the State of Mississippi vs. James Willie. Willie was accused of the murder of Fitz Casino employee Lori Carswell in the early morning hours of May 11, 2012 along Highway 713 in Tunica County.
Sources say a series of outbursts by the defendant played a role in the decision to declare a mistrial. District Attorney Brenda Mitchell did confirm she would retry the case, but the venue may be changed to another county in the state. Willie was transported to Rankin County, where he awaits trial on murder charges in Panola County and additional charges in Tunica County.
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