RUSSELLVILLE, Arkansas — The Russellville city council voted to keep its gaming committee to review licenses Thursday after criticism the group was meeting privately.
The decision to not dissolve the committee has left some people upset, but the mayor promises there's no wrong-doing and he wants to continue being transparent with the community.
"I think there was an innuendo based upon some of the discussions that the committee has that were misinterpreted," Mayor Richard Harris said.
Russellville Mayor Richard Harris denies the committee ever held private meetings.
"The meetings that they are having, have already been set. They've been published and there will be press releases issued," Harris said.
He said the committee, made up of citizens, is going through the casino applications to submit a request for proposal.
"Then, any and all casino operators that are interested in coming to Pope County will submit a proposal, and those proposals will be evaluated at that time," Harris said.
Kelly Jett is very outspoken about her support to bring a casino to Pope County. She said the Russellville city council's decision to not dissolve its gaming committee is frustrating.
"We're ready to more forward with economic development and growth in the community. We're tired of the games that the city continues to play with the county," Jett said.
Last month, Pope County offered its support to Cherokee National Business' Legends Casino. Kelly said there's nothing Russellville's gaming committee can do to reverse that decision.
"They can pick someone they like, but they can't choose a casino," she said. "The county judge and the quorum court will vet and choose the casino. Nowhere in the amendment does it say 'Russellville' anywhere."
Harris said he understands the community's frustration.
"Within a couple of months, the racing commission will have made its decision; that decision will have generational impacts on our community. Ten years from now, we will hardly remember what we went through today," Harris said.
Pope County's support for Legends still stands. The Arkansas Racing Commission just has to approve it.