Port board weighs in on gaming license and new port director

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - On May, 1 Bill Rase will assume the position of Lake Charles Port Director. He comes just in time to get involved in discussions with the gaming board and Pinnacle about what to do with the property that was supposed to house Sugarcane Bay.

Bill Rase said over thirty years of experience, eight of them at the Lake Charles port has prepared him for his new position. The Lake Charles port board unanimously voted to take him out of his current role, as director of operations, and make him port director.

"It is something that you always look forward to, advancing your career and getting to the next step. I am glad to have achieved that," said Bill Rase.

Over the past few weeks interim port director, Michael Dees has dealt with the issues surrounding the land, once planned for Sugarcane Bay. He said Pinnacle is doing what they believe is best for their shareholders, but he has to think about what is best for the area, by encouraging another developer to come to Lake Charles.

"Look at Biloxi, Gulf Port, Las Vegas. Facilities really do better when they're clustered together," said Dees.

Dees said, for the three years Pinnacle has had the fifteenth license tied up,  the port, the city and the state have lost out, eventually costing the state 60-million dollars a year. To speed up the process of bringing in a new developer the port, he wants Pinnacle to help out by offering to turn over permits and land tests.

"By helping out this developer, Pinnacle would be helping the community, the people that would eventually be employed there. So we are hoping they will be cooperative in that area," said Dees.

When it comes to bringing a new gaming project to Lake Charles, the port board wants Pinnacle to either remain neutral, or take a proactive approach to the process. Dees said the port board plans to meet with Pinnacle executives sometime this week, to see  where exactly Pinnacle is willing to help out.

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