ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Hundreds of people in western Rockingham County do not want a casino where they live.
The Ellisboro Baptist Church had standing room only on Tuesday night for a community meeting organized against any casino development on 192 acres off Highway 220 in Rockingham County.
A vote to rezone the property failed, but it will still go before the county commission.
The meeting lasted over an hour and a half, and those who spoke gave many reasons why they don’t want a casino in their backyard. Most importantly, they think they should have the right to vote on it.
“We’re not Las Vegas. We don’t want to be Las Vegas,” Chis Rodenbaugh said.
Hundreds of people showed up at the church to say “no” to a possible casino in west Rockingham County.
“My family … has lived here for generations back to the revolutionary war era,” Robert Knight said.
Knight and many others value how rural this part of North Carolina is, and they don’t want to lose its small-town feel.
“I worry about human trafficking. I worry about increased crime … I really worry about the changes this rezoning will make in the way our children live their lives,” said one resident who spoke before the crowd.
Others, including Pastor Steve Griffith, had strong words against the possibility of a large casino on what are currently farmlands.
Mark Walker, a gubernatorial candidate, represented Rockingham County for six years and helped organize the rally.
“It blew me away to see how close this proposed site would be … across the street from a camp that serves and ministers to children with disabilities,” Walker said.
Camp Carefree has strong community support, and many speakers said nothing should impact the services they provide to vulnerable children.
“I hope that you will continue to fight with us to help us keep our community safe, to keep this camp for our children and to help our community grow in a respectful and progressive way that is better for all of our lives and all of our children’s lives and not just for a money-making scheme,” said Rhonda Rodenbough of Camp Carefree.
They want the right to vote on it themselves in the form of a referendum and plan to show the county commission how they feel at their next meeting on August 7.