'New referendum on casino plans'

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Most of us have made decisions in our lives we wish we could do over; a job we took, a car we bought or a candidate we supported. I am concerned Beloit may want a do-over after the casino is built.

Given the many changes Beloit has seen since the first referendum in 2000 such as Beloit's improved economic position, new leadership and new citizens I wonder if long-time and newer Beloiters would appreciate one final referendum.

Having moved to Beloit in the past 8 years I was disheartened to learn of the casino project. Yes, I am opposed to it on moral grounds. Gambling hurts communities, families and individuals imprisoned by the addiction.

But another somewhat neglected area casinos undermine is volunteerism, which studies suggest drop in the region around a casino. We already see unmanned red kettles. There aren't enough volunteers for Meals on Wheels, food banks and the city regularly laments the lack of volunteers for citizen committees.

While millions of dollars may potentially arrive, there may be fewer volunteers to care for the casino's collateral damage on the community such as increased crime, poverty, suicide rates, etc. It's a double whammy. More problems but fewer volunteers to help handle those problems.

Like many, I was not around to vote against the casino. It would be a wonderful New Year's gift for the City Council to give us an opportunity to weigh in on the future of our newfound community during this spring's election. Then all residents can accept the results knowing we had a formal opportunity to influence our elected officials.

It's not too late. Offering it would be an incredible gesture of good will and ensures that we "measure twice and cut once" before choosing something we might later wish we could do over.

Pastor Tim Johnson

Rock Valley Chapel

Beloit

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