Nearly 200 people attended the groundbreaking Wednesday for Worth County’s Diamond Jo Casino. It’ll go up right next to the Top of Iowa Welcome center, one of the state’s deluxe rest stops that’s designed to look just like a barn, with 24-hour staff, maps, souvenirs and other amenities. Kim Miller’s director of the Worth County Development Authority, and helped organize the grassroots effort that got a pro-gaming referendum passed. Miller says demographics played a big role, but declares the strong grassroots effort won a lot of attention, right up to the state government level. She went to the state capital wearing a booster shirt and she says from asking “Where is Worth County?” by the time they were done everybody was rooting for her cause. Senator Thurman Gaskill says the local delegation showed a dedication he simply had to live up to and Gaskill remembers how he was called upon to speak and saw the Worth County delegation all leaning over the rail of the visitors’ balcony — at two o’clock in the morning. Michael Luzich, president of Peninsula Gaming — the parent company of Diamond Jo, says the casino will include a full-service restaurant and the exterior will look like an old-fashioned grist mill, which he says fits well with the agricultural history of Worth County. He says the company’s based in Dubuque, Iowa and has values based in Iowa work ethics. He says it’s an extension of the Midwest point of view and he says being a native of Wisconsin it’s “kind of like coming back home.” Jim Dickstein, assistant manager of the Diamond Jo Dubuque, is planning to move to Northwood to manage this casino. Today (Thursday), he is looking at a house to buy in Northwood. Dickstein says he’s looking forward to getting the casino open and getting people hired. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dickstein says the move to the Midwest is all a part of his career. “The last 25 years I was in Las Vegas, the last 6 months, in Dubuque — and now Northwood,” he says, laughing. Dickstein says good things come from small, dedicated communities like Northwood.
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