Bristol, Va. police chief, fire chief, other first-responders join pro-casino coalition

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BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) — Bristol, Virginia’s police and fire chiefs have joined a coalition encouraging voters to vote for legalizing casino-style gambling in the city and support the Bristol casino project.

Police Chief John Austin and Fire Chief Mike Armstrong are among several public safety officials who have joined the First Responders for Bristol coalition, according to a press release by Vote Yes for Bristol, a pro-casino interest group.

Voters in Bristol, Virginia will decide whether to legalize casino-style gambling in a referendum on the ballot this November. If approved, it would pave the way for Hard Rock to build a casino and resort at the former Bristol Mall site.

Hard Rock Bristol would create more than 2,000 jobs and generate $16–21 million in annual city tax revenue, providing new funds for the city’s public safety agencies, according to Vote Yes for Bristol.

“I am personally supporting the efforts to bring the casino and resort to Bristol, Virginia.  We are struggling to keep Bristol a thriving community.  This brings opportunity for better paying jobs, generates new business and large revenues for the city. Additional tax revenues will allow the city to hire more first responders and acquire better equipment to keep residents safe. This is our opportunity to provide a lot of unemployed citizens with gainful employment. The casino is only a small part of this venture. Added revenue will allow the city to provide better services to the citizens of Bristol, Virginia.  The economic impact of this project will allow businesses in our area to flourish.”

Police Chief John Austin

“The potential to have millions a year coming into the city that we don’t have now, that’s the opportunity for improved equipment for the fire department, police department, and all different departments within the city, who are in turn trying to provide the best possible services we can for our taxpayers. Every year we’re challenged to get by and make the most with the resources we have. I think this is a great opportunity for this city to get ahead. As a resident, as a taxpayer, I’m completely in favor of it. I think any business opportunity that can come in and create 2,000 jobs…that’s just unheard of.”

Fire Chief Mike Armstong

According to the press release, current members of the First Responders for Bristol coalition are:

  • John Austin, Chief, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Maynard Ratcliff, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Thomas Dula, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Jackie Thurston, President, FOP – Bristol Chapter
  • Charlie Jones, Retired Captain, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Andy Kristofek, Retired Captain, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Douglas Cooper, Retired, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • John H. Thornburg Jr., Retired Master Trooper, Virginia State Police
  • Russ Malone, Bristol VA Sheriff’s Office
  • Jeff Linnen, Bristol VA Sheriff’s Office
  • Tim Tester, SWVA Criminal Justice Training Academy
  • Bobby Nichols, Training Coordinator, SWVA Criminal Justice Training Academy
  • Mike Armstrong, Chief, Bristol VA Fire Dept
  • Morgan O’Quinn, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Gary Russell, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Michael Hardin, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Joshua Morenings, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Josh Adkins, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Logan Franklin, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Quentin Swinney, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Trey Long, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Jeffery Quillen, Bristol VA Fire Dept.

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