Florala pushes forward with bingo plans

Mayor Robert Williamson
Mayor Robert Williamson

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

FLORALA, AL (WSFA) - Robert Williamson is a mayor with a plan, ready to open the doors for an electronic bingo complex.

"It will include an entertainment complex, sandwich shop, restaurant, retail outlet and more," he explained at a Monday press conference.

In order to bring gaming to town, developers needed to partner with a non-profit organization.

That's where the Florala Historical Society comes in, sealing a deal Williamson says will bring 1,500 jobs and millions of dollars each year.

"It is very simplistic in that it's about economics and about people who are out of jobs in the Florala area," he explained.

There are a few obstacles facing this plan. Aside from criticism, developers have to get a permit from Covington County Sheriff Dennis Meeks.

Meeks has publicly refused.

"We're going to act on the law, based on the law, of what our local act says at this time," he said.

City attorneys say they'll take the case to court if necessary.

"It's hard to say," Wes Laird commented.

"If the permit is issued, they plan to open in 45 days."

What about the Governor's task force on illegal gambling?  Mayor Williamson says he's watching the headlines--but worrying takes a back seat.

"There's pros and cons to everything, so you just hope the positives outweigh the negatives,' he said.

Meanwhile, residents say they'll welcome any positive relief.

"Anything that can bring jobs to this community we absolutely need.  Anything within the law, we absolutely need," said one woman.

"Us poor people--we might could get jobs up there.  And Lord knows we need jobs," said Susan Miller of Florala.

Neither Williamson or the Florala Historical Society have released the name of the gaming company involved.  An announcement is expected in about a week.

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