The lobby of Galaxy Porterville 9 Theatre was alive with the noise of conversation Friday morning around 7 a.m. for the Chamber of Commerce's monthly First Friday Coffee meeting.
The guest host for this month's meeting was Eagle Mountain Casino, who provided an assortment of freshly made breakfast foods for guests to enjoy before the crowd shuffled into Theater 2 to hear the casino's presentation.
Chamber President and CEO Monte Reyes welcomed the crowd who had settled into their seats.
“Good morning and welcome to First Friday Coffee,” said Reyes. “Thank you for coming. We really appreciate you coming out today.”
Reyes invited Jason Pommier, the chairmen for the Chamber board of directors and Porterville Unified School District's public information officer, to come to take the microphone and get the meeting started.
“It's great to see everybody here,” said Pommier.
Pommier introduced a handful of community delegates in attendance including Mayor Martha Flores, Tule River Council member William Garfield and members from the Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber. Pommier ran through a list of city events open to the community that can be found on the Chamber's website, before introducing Matthew Mingrone, the general manager at Eagle Mountain Casino.
Mingrone was met with a round of applause as he made his way to the front of the crowd, and took control of the microphone.
“Good morning everybody,” said Mingrone. “I just want to welcome you for coming. This is special month for Eagle Mountain Casino. We are celebrating our 23rd year, and we have so much more coming up, but every year we celebrate June.”
Mingrone explained that what once started in trailers and parking lots transformed into a prosperous business thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the tribe and the community. He said that the casino has greatly enjoyed “contributing to the community that we live in” throughout the years.
Mingrone explained that the casino employs over 500 people, and offers Porterville and the surrounding areas plenty of opportunities to have fun and win big.
As he continued speaking, Mingrone moved to the subject of the casino's relocation project.
“It is an amazing time for the casino,” said Mingrone. “As you know, we are trying to move and we are closer than we've ever been before.”
The casino is taking steps towards moving the casino from its current location out to the Porterville Airport near the fairgrounds. The final Environmental Impact Study has been delivered and is now in the public comment period for roughly 30 days. Mingrone said no comments have yet been made.
The partnership between the county, city and the tribe has remained strong throughout this process, something that Mingrone expressed his gratitude for.
“We have been very fortunate to have those partnerships and be able to push forward,” said Mingrone. “We are very close. Hopefully, by the first or second week of July, the governor will agree with the Department of Interior, and within the next 30 days after that, we will be able to start making plans to break ground on the new big, beautiful facility for all of us to enjoy.”
The new facility will include 250 hotel rooms, new food outlets, 29,000 square feet of conference space and much more.
“This part of the county is really in deep need of the facility,” said Mingrone. “We will be happy to provide it and be part of the community even more so.”