Schools get $54K; Bingo pays in first month

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

In the short run bingo has obviously been very good for Greene County. The parking lot at Greenetrack has been filled, and the facility has been able to expand its workforce to 250 persons.

If two initial checks awarded Tuesday to non-profit agencies are any indication, Greenetrack has pulled in approximately $1.37 million in the first month of bingo gaming.

Greenetrack distributed its first checks to non-profit organizations Tuesday morning from the January proceeds of bingo gaming.

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The Greene County Board of Education received a check for $54,710.53 and the Greene County Volunteer Fire Association received $49,239.47.

According to law, the formula for dispensing money from bingo profits will include 40 percent for the Greene County Board of Education, 20 percent for county E-911, 20 percent for the volunteer fire department association, and 10 percent each for the sheriff’s department and the county racing commission.

The racing commission will dispense money from its share to various charities in the area.

Greene County Sheriff Johnny Isaac is in charge of bingo gaming in the county. He has previously stated that eight to 10 percent of money Greenetrack takes in through bingo will be distributed to the non-profit agencies each month.

Greenetrack could not release Tuesday how much money the facility took in for bingo gaming. Isaac has said in the past that they only need to release that information in an annual report.

Luther Winn, CEO of Greenetrack, was on hand at Tuesday’s check ceremony along with State Senator Charles Steele, county commissioner Bill Johnson, school board members and many of the new employees at the Eutaw gaming facility.

Renovation of the track facility continues, Winn said. Improvements are yet to begin on the parking lot. If the crowds continue to come to Greenetrack, he hopes to pay for that $5 million in renovations in the next year.

He wants his business to contribute to the dream of every citizen in Greene County having a decent job. “I hope that Greenetrack will be able to continue to provide jobs and financial support for the citizens of Greenetrack.,” Winn said. “…We are Greene County’s largest employer.”

He is also proud of the contribution Greenetrack can make to help educate the children of the county.

“We truly appreciate this,” said Eli Seaborn, county school superintendent. “We look forward to great things happening in Greene County.”

The influx of funds will change the county school system for the better, he said. “If this continues over a period of time, I see new construction for the school district, a brand new high school as time passes.”

The school system will finally be able to provide the technology for the students that had been wished for, Seaborn said.

With concern over state funding being cut further in fiscal year 2005, the gaming proceeds will fill the gap left by state shortfalls.

“…When I first came here (16 months ago), we couldn’t pay our bills.” Seaborn said the school system was paying off the last $100,000 owed. “As of this morning we owe no one.”

“We are so pleased to receive this kind of money,” said Lanette Williams, president of the volunteer fire association. “We know that we are going to grow, and it’s going to take all of us here in Greene County to work together…so we can have a safe community in all corners of Greene County.”

Williams said the money would distributed to the various fire departments very quickly “because there are so many needs….Equipment needs to be bought; we have fire trucks that we’re paying for. Some of us need buildings to house our equipment.”

Bingo gaming was approved Nov. 4, 2003 by Greene County voters, and gaming began Jan. 5, 2004. Greenetrack is the only bingo parlor in the county, and the facility operates with a license that is shared by 20 different non-profit agencies.

Those agencies include the Greene County Volunteer Fire Association, the Board of Education, and various volunteer fire departments and public schools.