Is gambling a potential boon or bust in BV?
As part of this November's general election, voters of Buena Vista County will be invited to take a gamble of their own - approving or denying the possibility of seeking casino gaming in the future.
Over a thousand signatures were presented to the Buena Vista Board of Supervisors to put the question on the ballot.
Supervisors chair Bill Lanphere feels the county needs a casino for economic growth, while Congressman Steve King suggests that the voters of Buena Vista County need to carefully consider what type of community they would like to have.
The issues is stirring plenty of thought and discussion across the county this season.
Jim Kennedy, of Alta, is against the idea of a casino and thinks that other options should be considered.
"You hear stores about people who go the grocery stores in South Dakota and blow their money in the back room and that's sad," Kennedy said.
"There was a place over in Massachusetts that had a pirate boat that would have the kids come on and get to wear hats and stickers and all that good stuff and boat would sail around the lake for family entertainment. I think that would be great to have something like that here in Storm Lake."
Kennedy is concerned about how the community would look with a gambling facility, but noted that some communities may have no options.
"If there was no other choice for community economic development then I could see it going in but I'm personally against casinos."
Jim Treat, of the Storm Lake City Council, is opposed to the idea of a casino.
"It would remain to be seen that we would have economic development from it," Treat said.
"The AWAYSIS project is hopefully going to stimulate economic development. There is also talk around town that Walgreens is coming. They can see the town has potential for growth, so I do not think we need to have a casino for Storm Lake."
Cary Boyd, owner of Puff's, supports the idea of a casino in Storm Lake.
"It's a tourist-type thing for Storm Lake and will bring in more money," Boyd said. "Storm Lake is not the wealthiest town and we have low-paying jobs so why not bring in something for more money?"
Boyd doesn't see why anyone would be against the idea of a casino and has not heard any negative ideas about the casino from many of his customers. "A lot of my customers are gamblers, not big time gamblers, but they like to play," Boyd said. "They are in support of a casino."
He also believes that a casino could help fill the city's lodge at King's Pointe.
"(A casino) can help bring more people into this town," Boyd added. "Everyone can benefit with more people in the restaurants, bars and other places, spending money, paying taxes and helping out the community and people worried about property taxes going up can see that they already are."
Jennifer Trenton of Storm Lake is also supporting of the idea of a casino coming.
"I'm going to vote yes for a casino," Trenton said. "We hear about economic development and I think this will go in line with it. It can offer jobs, also bring in more money because people will be coming into town and it would be something else for the 30-plus year-olds."
Rob Lembke, a Buena Vista University student, isn't really sure about gambling in Storm Lake is right or not.
"Since it won't be built until after I graduate, it might give us a reason to come back to Storm Lake," Lembke said.
Lembke didn't think a casino would have attracted him to BVU or Storm Lake, but thinks there are certain benefits a casino can have for young adults.
"They have one near (Waukon) and I go there every Sunday for their buffets so if there was one here and it had a great buffet I would go," Lembke said.
Terry Bernet of Lakeside thought that a casino and the the AWAYSIS project went together.
"I just assumed that soon after the lodge was done that a casino would go up," Bernet said. "The lodge looks nice but what am I going to do with it because my children are too old for the water park, I don't like golf and there is not much else to do in my eyes besides me sitting in my garage working on my car or something."
Maria Fernandez of Storm Lake doesn't want a casino in Storm Lake.
"I don't think a casino boat or land casino is right for Storm Lake," Fernandez said. "I love to walk my dog down by the lake and I think the casino would look awful. It just wouldn't look right here."
A lot of people are still unsure about the issue. Many did not even feel comfortable making a comment.
"I can't see getting peoples' hopes up with the possibility of a casino," a woman said, not wanting to be identified. "If the county votes yes, we still might not get it so why should this even be a vote? The state hasn't granted more licenses. Even a yes majority doesn't mean it can happen, so this process seems sloppy to me."