“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.”

That old saying wrapped up the opening prayer for Wednesday’s “topping off” ceremony at the construction site of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. And it might have served as a sort of underlying theme for the gathering.

It means there was tacit acknowledgement that there had been some stiff opposition to the whole project, and some of it unseemly. And it means that they were inviting everyone to put it all in the past and move on ahead.

It was an interesting melding of representatives of: Enterprise Rancheria, the tribe that has been working for 17 years to build a casino in Yuba County; Hard Rock Cafe, the casino and hotel outfit owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida; various contractors working at the site; a bevy of media representatives from around the greater Yuba County area (or the greater Sacramento area, depending on where you came from); and a whole bunch of local representatives ... many of whom supported the endeavor and some of whom who weren’t so supportive.

It was a well-run event, from the ceremonial drumming and introductions, to speeches.

In addition to hearing those short messages from tribal and casino officials, there was the topping off – a traditional ceremony originating ages ago. Now days, it entails the placement of the last part of the structure holding up the roof. Attendees bent over to peer out from under the tent as the huge crane at the site on 40 Mile Road lifted a beam and moved it into place.

After winning multiple court challenges, the tribe finally was able to get construction seriously underway (and it’s moving along rapidly). And they did a deal with Hard Rock that will surely help things run smoothly and provide the branding that will attract plenty of attention from around the region.

Crowded under that big tent, a couple hundred area residents and dignitaries, as well as a troop of construction workers dressed in rain gear, listened in. Besides the notion that they mean to move on past hard feelings, they had a couple other messages:

• They intend to be part of and benefit the community. One of the elected officials in attendance commented that this would be the biggest thing for Yuba County since New Bullards Bar Dam. The operation means some 1,200 to 1,400 new jobs to a county where poverty and unemployment have defined much of its recent history. A college official noted how they hope to partner with the casino to provide training. This development will touch a lot of entities, a lot of lives.

Officials and onlookers from Wheatland, Marysville, Linda, Yuba County, Sutter County ... just about every area community were on hand. They were looking to be cooperative; the casino management appears ready to reciprocate.

They intend to be very successful. One of the casino officials made it known without any equivocation that they intend to be the best entertainment/gaming operation in their market. 

Their confidence was catching.

It’s only a matter of months now before the Fire Mountain casino opens up. It’s a huge (for our area, anyway) operation. There are bound to be some issues that crop up ... we’re pretty sure from what we witnessed that they’ll be handled.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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