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Casino to assist Rossford

Toledo operation sets aside $200,000 for police, fire

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The $320 million Hollywood Casino, being built in Toledo, 'serves as a gateway to downtown Rossford,' an official says.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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Although the impact, if any, on Rossford is yet to be felt, the owner of the new Hollywood Casino is jumping in front to help the city with police and fire protection.

Penn National Gaming Inc. has earmarked $200,000 to cover the increase in demand for first-responder service that Rossford could experience once the casino opens in the spring.

Eric Schippers, vice president of public affairs for Penn National, said the donation is to "underwrite personnel costs" that may be incurred by the city's police and fire departments.

Although the $320 million gambling palace is being built just to the east in Toledo, Mr. Schippers said Penn National feels it should be a good neighbor to Rossford.

"This goodwill gesture is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to being a good corporate citizen in both Toledo and Rossford," he said. "We recognize that Hollywood Casino serves as a gateway to downtown Rossford."

Rossford Mayor Bill Verbosky, Jr., announced at Monday night's council meeting the city was getting the grant. Mayor Verbosky's last official day in office is Wednesday, ending a 25-year career as an elected official.

Mr. Verbosky said the grant follows an oral commitment that Penn National had made in earlier discussions on the impact the casino project could have on Rossford.

"They promised to be a good neighbor and were understanding on our concerns," said Mr. Verbosky, who announced in the summer that he would not seek a third term. "We felt all along there would be impact on safety services. They were willing to help us out on how we might stretch our services and provide a way that they could help us with that."

The casino, one of four being built in Ohio, is scheduled to open in April with 2,000 slot machines, 60 table games, and 20 live poker tables. It will employ more than 1,200 people.

It's unclear how the traffic entering and leaving the casino will affect Rossford, but Mr. Verbosky said he is hopeful that the city's hotels, restaurants, and other businesses will reap economic benefits from gambling patrons.

"We said all along there is going to be some impact. How can it not when the casino is sitting literally on your doorstep," Mr. Verbosky said. "The way the grant was done … the idea is we would look at it a year after it opens to see how everything has been fully impacted."

Mr. Verbosky said decisions on spending the $200,000 are not in place.

He said it will be up to mayor-elect Neil Mac-Kinnon III and the new administration to make any necessary changes in fire and police services with the money.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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