Penn National has taken out the zoning permit needed to build the remaining structures, including stables and related buildings, at the new Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. According to Austintown Zoning Inspector Darren Crivelli, the permit fee was for $344,000.
"The zoning permit is based on the value of the buildings, not their number or size," said Bob Tenebaum from Penn National. "We're still determining the number of barns that will be constructed; there will also be a testing barn (for the Racing Commission's drug tests on horses) and some other outbuildings that are part of the race track side of the facility, in addition to the main VLT facility/grandstand building. Once final decisions are made on those pieces of the project, we'll be applying for specific building permits."
He said construction is on schedule and the facility is expected still open in the second half of 2014.
Last week, Penn National named the general manager for the facility. Michael Galle, 43, will be filling the position starting in January. He has served as the assistant general manager of Hollywood Casino Toledo since June 2011. His appointment is subject to customary regulatory approvals and he will report directly to Penn National Gaming Senior Vice President of Regional Operations, John Finamore.
Galle is a 21-year veteran of the gaming industry and has been with Penn National Gaming since February 1995, when he joined Sioux City Casino in Kansas as surveillance director. While in Sioux City, he served in a number of roles including slot director, director of casino operations and, ultimately, assistant general manager. He also served at Argosy Riverside Casino in Missouri as vice president of casino operations.
In his new role as general manager of Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Track, Galle will have full responsibility for the start-up, opening and management of the planned $136 million facility, including the recruitment and training of employees.
"The appointment of Michael Galle as the first general manager of Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Track represents a key milestone in the evolution of this project," said Finamore. "We believe Mike's experience at several of our facilities, including his most recent role as assistant general manager of our growing Hollywood Casino Toledo, makes him an ideal candidate to oversee the continued construction of our newest facility in Austintown, the extensive hiring process, and both the facility's pre-opening activities and eventual ramp of operations. Since joining the team in Toledo in mid-2011, Michael has been an instrumental part of the property's growing success, having built close ties among the local community in Toledo and across the state. We expect him to leverage those ties and that experience as he moves to the Austintown area and believe he will help Penn National create a close relationship with the community, state officials and the Ohio thoroughbred horsemen to ensure that Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Track is a key, valued member of the local community."
As to hiring, Tenebaum said he doesn't have any exact numbers of those who have registered on the Penn National website, but based on past experience, he anticipates a strong interest once the employment process begins next year.
"Anyone interested can register at www.hollywoodmahoningvalley.com/careers," he said. "They'll be notified when the hiring process opens and they can upload a resume if they want to, although that's not required at this point. Beginning early next year we will roll out our hiring process, which will include job fairs to allow people to learn about available jobs and apply for employment."
As for working with the township and local government, Tenebaum said it has been a good experience.
"Our experience working with the Austintown Township trustees and the Mahoning County commissioners has been terrific," he said. "We greatly appreciate the support they have given us, and the cooperation that has allowed the project to remain on track. One of our primary goals is to become a strong contributor to the economic well-being of the community and the entire Valley and to establish and maintain strong relationships with government officials, the business community, our neighbors, and community organizations and nonprofits throughout the Mahoning Valley."