Groundbreaking for New St. Croix Casino Hertel Express Complex Held on September 9
“It’s a beautiful day,” said St. Croix Chippewa Senior Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist Michael Decorah. “We’re fortunate that the St. Croix tribe is holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the second time this year.” Decorah’s remarks opened the St. Croix tribe’s September 9 groundbreaking for the new St. Croix Casino Hertel Express Complex on Highway 70 in Hertel, Wis.
St. Croix Tribal Chairman Lewis Taylor followed Decorah’s opening remarks with a prayer in Ojibwe and remarks of his own. “Thank you all for being here today,” Chairman Taylor said. “This groundbreaking is further evidence of our commitment to progress for the people of the St. Croix tribe. It also demonstates our commitment to invest in Burnett County and looking to diversify our tribal economy.”
The St. Croix Tribal Council – Chairman Lewis Taylor, Vice-Chairperson Crystal Peterson, Secretary/Treasurer Stuart Bearheart and council members Elmer “Jay” Emery and Crystal Peterson – were in attendance for the event. Several dignitaries also attended the groundbreaking ceremony, including State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, 28th District State Representative Adam Jarchow, Burnett County Board Chairman Don Taylor and National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Representative Ben Buck. Decorah acknowledged the veterans in the audience and thanked them for their service.
Also present were representatives of Martin Woodstone, the construction company in charge of the project. Michael Decorah emphasized that Martin Woodstone has done work in Indian country for four generations and has thus developed a respectful continuing relationship with tribal governments. Ed Martin of Martin Woodstone added that for his company, it’s not about doing a job, it’s about building relationships.
Decorah commented on the history of the new Hertel Express Complex, noting that the current Hertel Express property is 20 years old. “During the time the current facility has been in business, we have added jobs to the local economy and have built integrity with the community,” Decorah said.
Decorah added, “The new casino complex will include a casino, a convenience store, a truck stop, a 16-stall RV park and an 850-seat amphitheater. We’ll even offer free WI-FI. This will create even more jobs and further bolster the local economy. We appreciate the continuing cooperation of the county in supporting our business ventures.” The new casino complex is scheduled to be open for business by mid-summer 2017.
Chairman Taylor added, “Thank you to the casino staff and to tribal leadership for the success we’ve had over the past 20 years. Highway 70 is a major thoroughfare for northwest Wisconsin, and this new project will take advantage of the traffic at its location. We have a goal and a commitment to achieve the goal.
“What we’re doing is remarkable. This new project will allow us to increase our economic diversity, the spirituality of our people and our humanitarian efforts. Today I’m thankful to be a St. Croix member and proud of it.”
Burnett County Board Chairman Don Taylor echoed Chairman Taylor’s sentiments. “My father was once chairman of the St. Croix tribe. He would be proud today,” he said. “This project is real progress made by people who are thinking ahead. It’s the kind of progress our county – and country – need.”
State Senator Sheila Harsdorf thanked the tribe for its investment in the area. “Projects like this one make this area a destination,” she said. “By making this investment, the St. Croix tribe is assisting the community.”
State Representative Adam Jarchow remarked, “A few months ago, I was down the road in Siren for the groundbreaking for the Fourwinds Complex and look what’s happening there. Thank you for your investment in the community.” Jarchow also noted that the new Hertel Express Complex will be a draw for tourists. “People from Minnesota come here to spend their money – and we like that,” he said.
Doug Niesen of Martin Woodstone spoke of the relationships the company has developed in Wisconsin and with tribal communities and governments. “We try to get as many tribal members involved in the construction process as possible,” he said. “Economic development means jobs. Jobs provide hope.” He then introduced the rest of the Martin Woodstone team.
Andy Vig, an artist from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community, presented a special commemorative gift to the St. Croix tribe – an artist’s rendering of a groundbreaking shovel incorporating design elements specific to the St. Croix including the St. Croix tribal flag and images of wild rice.
Leva “Dino” Oustigoff Jr., St. Croix Casinos CEO, provided closing remarks. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be here. We are here to embark on a journey for our tribe,” Oustigoff said. “I’m proud of what we’re doing for economic development for our county. We’re a small community here, but we’ve pulled together to make this happen.”
The groundbreaking ceremony ended with the official turning of the soil by St. Croix tribal members in attendance, by the St. Croix Tribal Council and by the council joined by dignitaries attending. A picnic lunch was served following the turning of the soil.
The September 9 groundbreaking at Hertel was for the second phase of the St. Croix Chippewa of Wisconsin’s economic development project for Burnett County. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the first phase, the new Fourwinds Complex in Siren, were held on June 2. The new Fourwinds Complex will include a 23,000 sq. ft. grocery store, a 3,000 sq. ft. bottle shop with a drive-thru, a 1,5000 sq. ft. gas station/convenience store with trucker rest stop parking, a touchless car wash, a 3,100 sq. ft. fast food restaurant with a drive-thru and a 52-unit mini storage facility.