Me-Wuk plans moving ahead

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By LENORE

RUTHERFORD

The county will build a multi-million dollar bypass around Tuolumne, but the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk will foot the bill.

The Me-Wuk will also pay for county staff members to oversee construction of the new $60 million, three-story, 160,000-square-foot Black Oak Casino and family entertainment center.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors yesterday authorized the Community Development and Public Works departments to include both projects in the 2003-04 budget, along with the Me-Wuk's payment to the county for them.

The exact costs have yet to be determined.

"They agreed to pay whatever it costs," said County Counsel Gregory Oliver yesterday after hearing the tribe's presentation to county supervisors, "so it doesn't really matter what the numbers are."

County Planning Director Bev Shane estimated the costs to her department at $142,126 for the 2003-04 fiscal year, including two building inspectors and a fire inspector.

Public Works Director Peter Rei said his department's fees will be $65 an hour for regular time and $85 an hour for overtime. He said the extra workload will allow him to keep a part-time employee who had been scheduled to be laid off because of budget cuts.

Construction started last week on the new entertainment complex, which will rise in the parking lot of the Me-Wuk's existing casino at 19400 N. Tuolumne Road.

The new casino is scheduled to open in December 2004.

Its main floor will contain 940 slot machines, 24 table games, a non-smoking gaming area with a non-smoking bar, a 24-hour cafe with seating for 200, a players' club, gift shop, 250-seat live entertainment lounge with dance floor and gaming bar and full-service valet parking.

The downstairs "entertainment zone" will encompass more than 53,000 square feet. It will include a casual, "kid friendly" restaurant; a 24-lane Brunswick bowling center including a pro shop, party room and Cosmic bowling capability; a 3,200-square-foot arcade and a sports bar.

11508896
The Union Democrat
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