Hickey, Other Locals Testify at Senate Hearing on Gaming
Salem's town manager spoke on behalf of the selectmen.
Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey waited patiently for his turn to speak during a lengthy hearing at the Statehouse Tuesday, but his testimony was worth the wait for those favoring a casino at Rockingham Park.
Hickey, who spoke in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, represented the Salem Board of Selectmen and their unanimous position of support for Senate Bill 152.
Committee member and state Sen. Jim Rausch (R-Derry) asked Hickey to give a pulse on the Salem Police Department and its opinion of a gaming facility.
Hickey replied that Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan is on board.
"The Salem Police Chief, who is also the president of the police chiefs association, individually supports expanded gambling," Hickey said.
Earlier in the meeting, the organization as a collective group spoke out against SB152.
As for other officers at the SPD, Hickey said he has not heard an official position from the union representing the police officers.
Hickey also mentioned the importance of the non-binding gaming referendum that residents will vote for on March 12.
Several others from the Salem area joined Hickey at the hearing, and all of them testified in support of gaming legislation.
Donna Morris of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce read a short letter announcing her organization's backing of the bill.
Director of Salem Senior Services Patti Drelick talked about all of the benefits provided to the town through charity gaming.
"Without the ability to be part of the charitable gaming at Rockingham Park, I'm not quite sure we'd be able to bring what we have done to the seniors of our community," she said.
In 2012 alone, a total of $1,980,000 was raised through charitable gaming, Drelick said.
"Please keep the rose-colored glasses on and appreciate what (gaming) will do not only for our whole community but for the state as well," she added.
Local businessman Howie Glynn also made points similar to Drelick, saying that games of chance have benefited various areas of Salem.
"If we stand by and do nothing, our charitable gaming revenues will dry up," he said.