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Rancheria, chambers celebrate opening of center

SMITH RIVER – The Smith River Rancheria officially opened its new Tolowa Convention Center Thursday by hosting the annual America’s Wild Rivers Coast Five Chamber Mixer.

It reminded Tolowa Tribal Chair Kara Miller, she said, that the site has been a gathering place for the thousands of years for the peoples living between the Klamath River to the south and the Elk and Sixes rivers to the north.

“It gives me goosebumps to know that this place has always been a special place,” she told the crowd of more than 300 people.

The 400-seat hall, adjacent to the Lucky 7 Casino on the Smith River Rancheria, is nearly complete. It is part of a project that also will bring a hotel to the site.

The crowd learned that the tribe could have used a turn-key construction package for the project, but instead coordinated the work of 40 local contractors to keep the funds in the area.

And, the casino has already booked major events through the summer to keep the hall busy, in addition to regular bingo games.

The Five Chamber Mixer is an annual event of the consortium that developed and manages the brand America’s Wild Rivers Coast. The consortium is made up of the Brookings-Harbor, Del Norte, Gold Beach, Klamath, and Port Orford chambers of commerce.

As part of the  event, the consortium presented its annual Chuck Schaumburg Customer Service Award to Jeff Ferguson of the Gold Beach Promotion Committee.

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