A Look Back on Seventeen Years of the Mill Casino!

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The Mill Casino as it appeared in 1997. You can still see the plywood mill in this photo.

Can you believe it has almost 17 years since we have opened our doors?

The Mill’s Facebook page has been redesigned to fit in with Facebook’s new Timeline format. Part of that new design features some milestones in The Mill’s history. As we approach our 17th anniversary on May 15, we thought we would share those milestones here on our blog.

We really enjoyed looking back at the people and events of the last 17 years that made The Mill Casino what it is today and thought you would too. When you get a chance, take a look at our new Facebook page.

1989 Federal recognition of The Coquille Indian Tribe is restored by an act of Congress signed into law by President George H. W. Bush as Public Law 101-42 on June 28, 1989.

1992 Coquille Tribal Council creates the Coquille Economic Development Corporation to develop and manage businesses on behalf of the Coquille Tribe.

1994 The Coquille Tribe purchases the abandoned Sun Plywood Mill facility along the banks of the Coos Bay estuary.

1995 The Mill Casino opens for business on May 15, 1995.
Opening day was an adventure for everyone at The Mill – employees and guests. People throughout the region had ‘heard the buzz’ and were now gathering at the door hours before the scheduled opening. Inside, workers were still putting on the finishing touches when the decision to open the doors two hours early brought hundreds of new Mill guests into the casino for the first time. ‘There was such a crowd outside the casino that we had to open the doors early,’ said Tom Bohanan. ‘We were still laying carpet and setting slot machines when the doors opened.’

1995 First restaurant opens

1996 The Dock Fire Ask anyone who worked at The Mill during its first year about major events that have taken place and he or she eventually will start a sentence by saying, ‘Of course, there was the fire in 1996.’

On August 16, 1996 a fire began under the boardwalk to the north of The Mill and rapidly spread to areas under the casino itself. Firefighters from North Bend, Coos Bay, Charleston, Hauser and Florence joined with local and state law enforcement officers, the Coast Guard and a variety of area businesses to fight the fire and rebuild the damaged areas. Hard work by the staff and extra efforts by area businesses brought the casino back in less than 24 hours.

1997 The Mill Casino produces its first return on the Coquille Tribe’s sizeable investment. The Tribal Council used that first revenue to provide health insurance coverage for Tribal members. That effort has grown into a health insurance program that today covers Tribal members, employees of the Tribe and its businesses and their families.

1998 The original restaurant is rechristened as the Plank House.

2000 The 115-room Mill Hotel (now the Lodge) opens in June.

2001 The Coquille Tribe creates the Coquille Tribal Community Fund to share a portion of the proceeds from the casino with the community. By 2012, the Community Fund had issued $4.1 million in grants to non-profit organizations and government agencies in a five-county area.

2004 The Salmon Room opens, giving The Mill its first venue for indoor concerts, banquets and large meetings.  The Coquille Tribe purchases the 50.5-acre, former industrial land north of the casino. The property will be renamed and prepared for development as Ko-Kwel Wharf.

2005 The casino expands its table games offerings beyond Blackjack with the addition of Craps and Roulette tables.

2006 The RV Park opens, becoming the first new business on the Ko-Kwel Wharf property.  The Whitecaps lounge opens in October and leads to the demolition of the Hook Tender Saloon. These are the first steps in a major casino expansion project.

2007 A major expansion of the casino is completed in July. The project includes creation of Warehouse 101, a remodeled Timbers Café, Ko-Kwel Gifts, a larger Salmon Room and about 50% more casino space.

2008 The Hotel Tower opens in July adding 92 rooms including six suites, and executive suite, pool and hot tubs and a fitness center. Five new meeting rooms are added along with a full-service banquet kitchen.

What does the future hold?  What will we do next?  Only time will tell, but you can count on us to be here and bring you non-stop casino action, world class events and entertainment the friendliest service on the coast.

The Mill Casino today

The Spirit of The Festival of Trees and a Puppy Named Biscuit

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The 2011 Festival of Trees is November 22- December 1, 2011 at The Mill Casino. This annual event brings together local businesses, organizations and individuals to help families in need while demonstrating their holiday-decorating talents.

Many of you are familiar with our Festival of Trees logo (pictured on the right) but you probably don’t know the story behind it. If you look closely, you will see a series of paw prints in the sand.

Robert Jackson, Mill Casino graphic design extraordinaire, recently shared his story of this photo and I was so moved by his candor, I wanted to share it with you as well. Enjoy!

Remembering Biscuit -By Robert Jackson

The photo that we used in The Festival of Trees logo was the very first project I worked on for The Mill Casino. We’d only been in town for two days, and I took my wife Janet and our 7-month old puppy, Biscuit, out to the beach just before sunset. You can see Biscuit’s paw prints in the photo. I was so afraid he was going to jump right in the middle of the project before I got the picture taken.

We originally took Biscuit as a “foster dog,” to keep him until he was old enough to get his shots (a requirement before adoption), but we ended up being the ones who adopted him. Our experience with fostering dogs later helped us with the courage to become foster parents, where again, Biscuit (and our previous rescue, who also died this summer) became a great asset in helping kids through periods of personal turmoil. Biscuit may not have known it, but he became one of the ones doing the rescuing.

That’s what the Festival of Trees is about — reaching out to families who can use a lift. And when you help someone, sometimes it gives them the opportunity to help someone else. Even something non-essential at face value, such as a donated holiday tree, may give a family a little bright spot.

Donated trees aren’t the only way the Festival of Trees extends help to families. As an employee of The Mill, it’s important to me that we make gestures such as sponsoring the Festival of Trees, our holiday canned food drive slot tournament, and so many other good works throughout the year. Maybe, just maybe, someone who gets a lift from The Mill will be able to turn around and do something good for someone else. We’re all connected that way.

Biscuit passed a couple of months ago and I miss him. It’s warming to think that his paw prints have been a key part of this fundraiser for a ninth time. I don’t look at the Festival of Trees poster and see symbolism in Biscuit’s paw prints. He was just my happy boy, and that’s a memory of a happy day. But if he’s been part of something that helps more kids – more families – that would certainly be fitting.

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