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HCG-WITTENBERG'S PROJECT FOWARD PROGRESS


We are now in our 23rd week of expansion construction and we will continue to inform the public, in regards to completion dates, to the status of construction. The structural steel for the new main entrance is being raised. The exterior wall has now being constructed. The foundation work for the Hotel has been started and it is a little over 25% complete. The concrete foundation work on the West side of the building for the expanded gaming floor is now over 75% complete. The relocation of the Energy Recovery Units (ERU’s) is completed. We would like to reiterate, please stay patient with us as we are doing the best to accommodate our guest’s experience during the expansion period. We are very humbled and appreciative that we have the support and the out pouring of positive comments from our loyal guests. Everyone here at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg would like to thank our guests and everyone involved who are making the Project Forward a reality.




HO-CHUNK NATION WITTENBERG EXPANSION FACTS


For over six months the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe has been publicly opposing the Ho-Chunk Nation’s casino remodeling and expansion project in the Village of Wittenberg Wisconsin. During this time the Stockbridge has released information that is inaccurate, misleading and incorrect. The Ho-Chunk Nation would like to take this opportunity to state what the facts are and to set the record straight.

First, Stockbridge, a few other tribes and some editorial boards have described the Wittenberg expansion as similar to the recent proposal to place a casino in Kenosha Wisconsin. This is comparing apples to oranges. The Kenosha proposal involved taking land into trust for a tribe whose reservation was over 300 miles away from the casino site. Under federal law, tribes can only conduct gaming on reservation or trust land that has been in trust before October 1988 with few exceptions. The Kenosha proposal would have fallen under one of those few exceptions which includes a lengthy and strenuous approval process. The Ho-Chunk land in Wittenberg has been in trust since 1963 and the Nation has been operating a casino at this location since 2008.

The expansion is focused on the construction of a hotel and restaurant and is only increasing the number of gambling machines by approximately 250, up from the current 500. This is very similar (albeit much smaller) to what Stockbridge did in 2008 when it constructed a $100 million expansion to its existing casino.

The Wittenberg area has been home to the Ho-Chunk Nation for many generations and thousands of years. There is no comparison between Wittenberg and Kenosha. Second, the Ho-Chunk Nation’s gaming facility in Wittenberg is designated by our Gaming Compact with the State of Wisconsin as an “Ancillary Facility”. An “Ancillary Facility” is defined in our Gaming Compact as: “…a facility where fifty percent or more of the lot coverage of the trust property upon which the facility is located, is used for a Primary Business Purpose other than gaming.” This simply means that the Nation cannot have just a casino located on a trust parcel designated as an Ancillary Facility, but must also have a non-gaming business located on the trust parcel and the gaming facility cannot not be larger than the non-gaming business. This is exactly what the Nation is doing. The new facility will have a hotel and restaurant as well as the existing convenience store in addition to the casino. The “lot coverage” of the non-gaming businesses at this site far exceeds the lot coverage of the casino. Gaming compacts between the State and other tribes have different definitions of “Ancillary Facility” and this may have caused some confusion for Stockbridge, but it is very clear that the Ho-Chunk Nation is following its Compact to the letter.

Few can argue that Indian gaming has not been beneficial to Wisconsin tribes, tribal members and the state as a whole. Gaming has reduced tribal unemployment, reduced the state’s social service program rolls and allowed tribes to better provide for the general welfare of their tribal members.

Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 primarily to spur economic development and investment into reservations. The intent was to give tribes the tools necessary to become self-sufficient. Under federal law tribes were to, and are, using gaming revenues to run tribal governments including providing for the health and welfare needs of tribal members through health department programs and medical facilities, educational opportunities, employment training, social services programs, housing programs, court systems etc. Under many circumstances tribes have been able to replace functions once provided by the state and federal governments.

However, gauging the level of benefit for each individual tribe depends on two factors, the input and output of revenue. A tribe can only be considered successful if the amount of revenue it brings in from gaming can cover the cost of all of the programs and services necessary to meet the needs of its tribal members. Therefore, the larger the population of the tribe, typically the more revenue is needed.

Stockbridge has been portraying the Wittenberg expansion dispute as David versus Goliath. However, the Ho-Chunk Nation has over six times as many tribal members as Stockbridge does. That equates to six times the need that the Ho-Chunk Tribal government must contend with. The Wittenberg expansion is one way that the Nation can increase its revenue in order to provide basic human services for its membership.

Ho-Chunk also does not have a single, land-based reservation unlike Stockbridge and other tribes in the state. The Nation and its tribal members are spread out over the southern half of Wisconsin, anchored by small trust and fee parcels that house the Nation’s governmental, business and residential holdings. This adds tremendously to the cost of providing essential governmental services to the Nation’s tribal members.

Another additional cost the Ho-Chunk Nation has to bear that Stockbridge does not is the annual Gaming Compact payment to the State. Although the recent impact study released by Stockbridge is significantly flawed, according to it and the Stockbridge Gaming Compact, Ho- Chunk pays over twice the percentage that Stockbridge does for its annual payment. Ho-Chunk pays 5% annually and Stockbridge pays only 2.25%.

The Ho-Chunk Nation is very proud of the strides it has taken to provide a better life for its tribal members and the positive impact it has had on the communities where it has a presence. The improvements being done at its Wittenberg facility will create more jobs and have numerous positive economic spin-off effects for local vendors and residents in the Wausau/Wittenberg area. Improvements include a new 86 room hotel, new 84 seat restaurant, a remodeled snack bar, a remodeled casino bar, 250 new slot machines, and 10 new eTable games. Completion of the project is scheduled for December 18, 2017.




ADOPT-A-HWY PROGRAM "ROADSIDE CLEANUP"


November 17th was the kick-off for Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg’s Adopt-A-Hwy Roadside Cleanup program. The participants included tribal elders, Nation and HCG-Wittenberg employees.  Once again, we want thank everyone for their assistance.

The weather cooperated, it was nearly 60 degrees with clear skies.  The cleanup took about two hours and consisted of two crews. Eight bags of trash were collected.

HCG-Wittenberg’s section runs along Highway 29 from Highway 45 North to Killdeer Road. The Adopt-A-Hwy Roadside Cleanup program is coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in conjunction with area county highway departments.  The signs, safety gear and garbage bags were provided by the Shawano County Highway Department. We just had to provide the manpower.

Stay tuned for next spring, when the weather will be nice again and another Cleanup Day will be scheduled.




HO-CHUNK GAMING WITTENBERG VETERAN'S DAY CEREMONY


WITTENBERG, WI – Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg – November 11, 2016 – As the sun shined, so did the Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Veteran’s Day Ceremony.  There was an impressive turnout with an estimated 300 guests in attendance at the Flag Raising ceremony held Tuesday, November 11 at 11:00am.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg’s Executive Manager Fletcher Collins commenced the ceremony by greeting and thanking everyone for joining the observance.  He was followed by the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Lawrence Walker Jr. who is an area tribal member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and US Army Veteran. He explained the significance of Veteran’s Day and its importance to the Ho-Chunk Nation.  Special thanks were given to the Ho-Chunk Veterans who assisted with the flag raising, Sid Whitewing – US Army Vietnam Combat Veteran (1967-1969), Peter Oknewski – US Army (1970-1979) and Corwin Roth – US Marine Corps (1980-1984). Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Security Officer’s who assisted were Gary Snowadzki – US Marine Corps (1973-1979), Brian Block – US Army and Michael Montgomery – US Army Veteran Desert Storm (1991-1998). The Birnamwood Darling-Gunderson Post 341 Color guard presented a 21 gun salute and played taps.  The Lake Delton Singers brought traditional Ho-Chunk culture to the ceremony by singing the Ho-Chunk Nation Flag Song and the Elliott Decorah Veteran’s Song.

The ceremony was honored to present Ms. Kathy DeCamp as Keynote Speaker.  She is a tribal US Army Veteran (1980-1992) and currently one of 12 Ho-Chunk Nation legislators.  DeCamp began with a quote by the late President John F. Kennedy which said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget, that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." She also shared a heartfelt story about her family and stated, “As our young grandchildren were leaving from a weekend visit, I asked them what their idea of a Veteran was.  Their remarks were, someone who is a hero, someone who was in the military, and lastly one remarked someone who made our country free. Of course I held back my emotions, as I was so very proud of their thoughtful answers.”

  DeCamp proudly emphasized the high rate of American Indians that served our beautiful country dating back to the Civil War.  She quoted unprecedented statistics from Indian Country Today that stated, “Throughout the Vietnam Era, American Indians enlisted in the military to the tune of more than 42,000 – 90 percent of them were volunteers, with the others serving trough draft selection. After Vietnam, Natives have continued to serve in high numbers. Since that time, Native service members have seen military action and combat in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Gulf War, and in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND)”. She concluded her speech with, “Thank you fellow Veterans for your service! Thank you for attending today's Veterans Day event with us at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg.”




HO-CHUNK GAMING WITTENBERG HOME TOWN HEROES DRIVE


Wittenberg, Wisconsin (November 15, 2016) – Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg is pleased to announce that 524 guests participated in this year’s first ever Veteran’s Drive and received a total of 2,620 donations. All items received will be donated to “Support the Troops WI”.

Support the Troops WI, a non-profit organization, was started in 2007 by one mother sending care packages to her sons overseas. After hearing from her sons when they were deployed that other soldiers did not receive mail, she was compelled to start sending boxes to others as well. The momentum continued, even when her children returned home, and Support the Troops WI was created. Now it has grown from a one room operation at her home to a donated store front with many volunteers.

LeAnn Boudwine, Board Chair and founder of “Support the Troops WI” was ecstatic when Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg wanted to work with the program. Boudwine stated, “To date, over 8000 packages have been sent, and we couldn’t do it without you. Each one of our sponsors holds a special place in our hearts. Thank you for all that you do! All of the organizations and individuals who have donated time, money, and supplies to support us in our mission of sending a bit of home to our soldiers deployed overseas.”

Donations ranged from crossword puzzles, canned goods, hygiene products and much more. “We had the gratitude to collect and house donated items to be part of giving back to our service members,” said LeAnthony Pecore, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Senior Public Relations Manager.

If you would like to be part of this effort, visit www.supportthetroopswi.com. To learn more sponsorship opportunities with Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg, please visit ho-chunkgaming.com/wittenberg. We are always happy to work with Wittenberg and surrounding community organizations to become true business partners while raising awareness about what we have to offer.




HO-CHUNK GAMING WITTENBERG'S PROJECT FORWARD PROGRESS


Wittenberg, Wisconsin (November 3, 2016) – Residents in Shawano County and the surrounding areas will soon be able to enjoy the expansion excitement with Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg. We cannot be more excited to see the construction project start to take shape with a newly paved parking area, a temporary entrance in the making and a relocated Rewards Club Booth also in the beginning phases.

Please be patient as we move through these construction phases; not everything will be perfect and we will run into bumps in the road along the way.  As change occurs on a daily basis, customer service is our top priority and we doing our best to ensure our guests are the first to know of any and all changes in the making.

Currently, the exterior walls of the new Rewards Club Booth have begun transformation and a temporary entrance which will be located directly to the right of the existing main entrance; both set to be completed on or before December 1, 2016.



HO-CHUNK GAMING WITTENBERG BREAKS GROUND FOR EXPANSION


By LeAnthony Pecore – Sr. Manager Public Relations

Wittenberg, Wisconsin (September 21, 2016) – The Ho-Chunk Nation and local leaders officially broke ground at a ceremony held on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg as one of three casinos involved with the Ho-Chunk Nation’s $153 million casino expansion project.

The expansion project will encompass additions beneficial to our guests; an expanded gaming floor to add 200 more slot machines, a non-smoking gaming area, 10 Table Games, improvements to the Snack bar, transformation of the bar, enhanced dining options to include a sundry and a three meal restaurant, an 86 room Hotel and overall building system upgrades.

As the storms rolled in and out of the area the night before with chances of possible thunderstorms the day of the ceremony, weather was beautiful to conduct a highly successful ceremony with approximately 150 guests in attendance. Leading the groundbreaking event was master of ceremony and former Ho-Chunk Nation President, Jon Greendeer, who introduced Ms. Dolli BigJohn; one of eight elite Ho-Chunk Nation tribal elders. With the help from family and friends, a beautiful Lord’s Prayer was sung to start the day off right. A special show for the guests came from the Wasira Dance Troupe led by Elliott Funmaker and the Lake Delton Singers led by Allen Cloud.

Guest speakers for the event were Fletcher Collins – Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Executive Manager, Robert Reider – Ho-Chunk Nation Senior Marketing Manager, President Wilfrid Cleveland, Kathy DeCamp – Ho-Chunk Nation Legislator and Royce Alsbach – Miron Project Management Vice President.

As the speakers took us down memory lane with stories of local leaders like Dallas WhiteWing, you could not help to think the long road it took the Nation to be where it is this present day. The hard work and dedication throughout the years played a significant role in the Groundbreaking Ceremony that took place.

In closing, a special recognition was made in honor of Dallas WhiteWing; one of Wittenberg’s local community tribal elders who had a huge impact within the community. Natanha Bellanger, daughter of Dallas WhiteWing, drove six hours to be a part of the ceremony as Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg wrapped a Pendleton blanket around her as the Lake Delton singers sang his song.

A special Thank you goes to Ona WhiteWing Garvin who wrote the following:

“Dallas R. Whitewing was born on April 10, 1946 in Mauston, Wisconsin. He was the first son of George Whitewing II and Violet (Bigthunder) Whitewing. He was welcomed by the older sisters, Gloria and Ona. He was to be followed by other siblings: Gary, Georgianne, John, Lauren and Robert.

He attended Wittenberg High School and loved the sports of wrestling and football and established life long friendships with his colleagues. Dallas graduated from Wittenberg High School in 1964. He worked at various jobs in the Milwaukee, and Twin Cities areas for four years. On March 14, 1968 he joined the United States Marine Corps.

In the Marine Corps he was a Radio Telegraph operator and served in the Vietnam War. He was Point man on many missions. This experience was the most shattering encounter of his entire life and he witnessed the death of many of his fellow Marines.

During his service he earned a National Defense Service Medal; Vietnamese Service medal; Vietnamese Campaign Medal; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and Combat Action Ribbon. He was Honorably Discharged at CommCo, SDT, MCB, MCDEC, Quantico, Virginia, on December 3, 1971.

He did not speak of the unspeakable but did come back to participate in the traditional duties in naming and feathering ceremonies for his family. After a time fraught with Traumatic Stress disorder from his Vietnam combat experiences, he emerged in a new forge of strength to assist the Hocak Nation.

Dallas ran for elected office of the Ho-Chunk Nation. He was elected in 1993. He served four consecutive terms: 1993-1995; 1995-1999; 1999-2003; and 2003-2007. There were many accomplishments, wherein he worked to solidify the unity of the Ho-Chunk Nation. At one time there was a split in the 12 member governing body but because he was concerned about the Head Start children possibly not being able to continue due to this split he worked to bring the governing body together. Without a unified governing body the Ho-Chunk Tribe could not continue to receive various funding for tribal members and he brought opposing sides together.

He was adamant about better housing for the Nation. As a young boy he helped his father dismantle some buildings, salvage the lumber and build additional space to the family home. From that experience he remained committed to achieve good and standard housing for tribal members.

His greatest pride was in working toward the recognition of other Native Americans who served in Vietnam. The Native Warriors went unrecognized and unappreciated by the United States Government. He garnered support and funds to help establish a monument dedicated to those Native Warrior Brothers who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, in the Vietnam War. This monument of a Native Warrior carrying an Eagle Feather Flag and a rifle can be seen at the High Ground Memorial at Neillsville, Wisconsin.

After his service on the Ho-Chunk Legislature he also worked to establish a program for Ho-Chunk Veterans Housing which was passed by the General Council of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Ho-Chunk Legislature has strived to fulfill this law passed by the General Council and it is still a work in progress. Dallas dedication was through his experience when after the War he had no place of his own to live and often slept on the ground or in his car. He did not want to see other Veterans suffer this same fate upon their return from armed conflict.

He was determined to establish another gaming facility at Wittenberg, Wisconsin, because he felt that the tourist traffic would make this a profitable site for a casino. The third “ancillary” casino was built at Wittenberg on Highway 45 North and has proven to be a profitable venture.

He also helped to support charitable contributions to communities located where Ho-Chunk tribal members live. Many contributions benefited other children and communities during his tenure in tribal office. High schools, children’s diabetes foundation, Special Olympics, Fire Departments and like charitable organizations.

In the time he served on the Ho-Chunk governing body, he worked with other Legislators to “form a more perfect government, secure our rights, advance the general welfare, safeguard our interests, sustain our culture, promote our traditions and perpetuate our existence, and secure the natural and self-evident right to govern ourselves…” (Preamble, Constitution of the Ho-Chunk Nation).



He joined Eternity on August 18, 2014. He was a true leader, a true Point Man for the Ho-Chunk Nation. Forever faithful.” The expected completion date for the project is 2017.



HO-CHUNK GAMING WITTENBERG GROUNDBREAKING


Wittenberg, Wisconsin (September 12, 2016) – As part of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s $153 million casino expansion project involving three casinos, titled “Project Forward”, the Wittenberg location announced its groundbreaking event which will take place on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The ceremony will start at 1pm located outside of the casino under a tent.

The expansion project will encompass additions beneficial to our guests; an expanded gaming floor to add 200 more slot machines, a non-smoking gaming area, 10 Table Games, improvements to the Snack bar, transformation of the bar, enhanced dining options to include a sundry and a three meal restaurant, an 86 room Hotel and overall building system upgrades.

The September 21st ceremony will include Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg Executive Manager Fletcher Collins, the Lake Delton singers and a few other speakers from the Nation.

  Expansions and renovations will simultaneously take place during the next 18 months at the Ho-Chunk casinos in Wisconsin Dells and Black River Falls. At least 100 new jobs will be created between the locations adding to the existing 3,400 employee Ho-Chunk Nation workforce.

“You have spoken, we have listened and now we are acting; a commitment to the community in providing a great entertainment experience.”

About Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin

Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg is owned and operated by Ho-Chunk Nation Enterprises, with headquarters in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Ho-Chunk Nation Enterprises also owns and operates Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah, Wisconsin Dells and Black River Falls. For more information, call Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg at 866-910-0160 or go online www.ho-chunkgaming.com.