Casino Padre gambling boat to open Thursday We enjoyed the competition, they (Casino Del Mar) were very good competitors and they had a nice product. Mark Schrecengost Casino Padre manager - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Casino Padre gambling boat to open Thursday We enjoyed the competition, they (Casino Del Mar) were very good competitors and they had a nice product. Mark Schrecengost Casino Padre manager

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2000 12:00 am

By MARK M. MILAM

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND One day after the Casino Del Mar bid bon voyage to the

Rio Grande Valley, Casino Padre officials said their gambling boat would be

back in operation on Thursday.

The Casino Padre was to depart this week to Corpus Christi for a scheduled

inspection. However, officials learned that the site for the inspection would

not be ready for a few weeks. The U.S. Coast Guard granted them an extension

of the mandatory inspection.

Mark Schrecengost, general manager of the Casino Padre, said that it is

anticipated that the gambling ship will leave for dry-docking at the first of

March.

The decision to keep the Casino Padre in operation for a few more weeks is

good news for Valley residents and Winter Texans who enjoy a few hours of

gambling. On Monday, Casino Del Mar officials ceased operations of the

Valleys other gambling ship citing an overestimation of the gambling market.

Schrecengost said he believes that there is a market for their type of

operation and that the circumstances afford them a chance to gain potential

customers.

There is a very valuable market here. We have a pretty good opportunity to

catch some of the market and with the size of the ship it is a very viable

product in this market, Schrecengost. We enjoyed the competition, they

(Casino Del Mar) were very good competitors and they had a nice product. We

have a great product here and we are very happy with the fact that it is an

opportunity for us to go after the market.

One of the major concerns with the departure of the Casino Del Mar was that

their operational crew of 150, were being left unemployed. Casino Padre

officials said that there would be a variety of positions available on the

boat and that already some of the displaced workers had come seeking jobs.

Already interest is starting to show as anxious customers have kept the

telephones ringing constantly, Schrecengost said.

The vessel, which docks at the Sea Ranch Fishing Pier, began sailing on Nov.

15. Owned by SureBet Casino, Inc. of Pensacola, Fla., the ship can carry up to

320 passengers for offshore gambling excursions. After serving in a similar

capacity in Florida and after considerable analysis, the company saw a great

potential in South Texas.

After doing a lot of research, the Valley has an enormous amount of people

and continues to be a growing market and throughout the growth, between the

Winter Texans as well as the summer visitors and just the fact that we have

all the maquiladoras on the border, it appears to be a market that has no

end, Schrecengost said.

Valley Freedom Newspapers

McALLEN Charter Palms Behavioral Health System, a 17-year-old psychiatric

care facility in McAllen, will soon close its doors, eliminating the Rio

Grande Valleys only option for private inpatient care for mental illness or

substance abuse.

The treatment center is one of 25 such facilties to be shut down by parent

company, Charter Behavioral Health Systems, based in Alpharetta, Ga. The

company has not set dates for the closings.

Charter Palms, with 80 beds and 109 employees, is the most recent facility to

fall victim to a decade-long trend away from lengthy hospital stays, said

Bobbi Passavanti, a company spokeswoman. The downsizing is an attempt to

remain economically viable in the new mental health landscape.

Unlike public facilities, which are required to provide care regardless of

patients ability to pay, Charter Palms receives payment through patients

private insurance companies. Managed health care has eliminated hospital stays

in all but the most severe cases, Passavanti said.

Harlingen chamber of

commerce fires vice president

HARLINGEN Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce officials fired the agencys

vice president for economic development, Chairwoman Anne Shepard said Tuesday.

Chamber officials fired Richard Wilson for poor job performance, Shepard said.

Wilson did not return messages requesting comment.

Wilson, a Brownsville native who had worked for 3 years with the Brownsville

Economic Development Council, was hired last spring at a salary of $62,500 to

manage staff, oversee finances and conduct marketing work, officials said.

The chamber has worked without a president and chief executive officer since

December, when Shirley Clowers resigned.

Independent truckers continue

strike for higher freight rates

PROGESO Grain trucks laid idle for the second day as drivers continue their

strike for higher freight rates.

About 200 independent non-union truckers went on strike at 8 a.m. Monday at

four grain brokers in Progreso and Los Indios, said Ernest Leija, an Edinburg

trucker.

The strike started after three weeks of talks failed with Bee Agriculture of

Beeville, the company that sets freight rates.

The truckers want rates to increase 10 cents for every 100 pounds of grain

they haul on their trucks. The raise will compensate for escalating prices for

diesel fuel, they said.

McAllen to take backseat

in underground pollution suit

McALLEN The cleanup of two large underground plumes of gasoline and other

chemicals contaminating more than 30 acres of a populated area of South

McAllen is not the responsibility of the city, Mayor Leo Montalvo said

Tuesday.

But he said the contamination, revealed in a lawsuit in state district court,

should be cleaned up.

The city is going to take a back seat and see what develops during the course

of discovery (in the suit), Montalvo said.

That (the cleanup) is between the private ownership and the alleged companies

at fault, Montalvo said.

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