Cottonwood, AL – Despite the bingo controversy involving Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s Illegal Gambling Task Force and the chilly overcast weather conditions on Sunday, several ribbon cuttings went off without a hitch at Country Crossing, a country music entertainment development, near Dothan, Alabama.
Media from around the country; city, county, and state dignitaries, and interested citizens were all in attendance to witness the festivities.
The grand opening of the Bingo Pavilion was first on the schedule, with Enterprise native and real estate developer Ronnie Gilley speaking to the crowd and the press about everything from God to politics.
“Be not afraid, for I am with you; be not discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I shall raise you up in my victorious right hand,” Gilley said with his fist pointing up to the sky. “That’s Isaiah 41:10 and I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for that, we’d be long gone as you all know.”
Earlier this month, a raid was planned by the Alabama Governor’s task force and it was stopped by the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Riley believes that the electronic bingo games are slot machines and that they are illegal in the state of Alabama.
According to the Dothan Eagle, a court hearing before Circuit Judge P. B. McLauchlin to decide whether to dissolve a temporary restraining order which is preventing a raid on Country Crossing will be held on Tuesday. The hearing will take place at the Houston County Courthouse.
It is the position of Gilley and others involved in the Country Crossing project that the machines used at the entertainment complex are the same as thousands of other machines in operation across Alabama and that they have gone to great lengths to ensure the games comply with state law.
Gilley also feels that too much emphasis has been placed on the gaming machines.
“This project is not about bingo … unfortunately, some in the state have placed the focus of this project on bingo, but bingo is such a minute component,” Gilley said. “Our focus is entertainment – this will be a world class country music entertainment capital of the world in due time.”
The President of Ronnie Gilley Entertainment also expressed his appreciation to a number of people who want Country Crossing to succeed as an entertainment venue.
“This project would not have been possible without the support of the citizens of the Wiregrass in the state of Alabama,” continued Gilley. “And it also would not have been possible without some elected officials who incorporate the most basic principles of democracy … let the majority rule.”
Country music singer Lorrie Morgan cut the ribbon on her Hot Chicken restaurant which features chicken fingers and mild, medium, hot, and “atomic” wings cooked in some of her family’s homemade recipes.
Also using the large scissors today was living legend George Jones at the door of his Possum Holler Bed & Breakfast.
“Along with Mr. Gilley and others … we’ve been waiting for this about four years,” Jones told a news crew inside the Bed & Breakfast. “We’re looking forward to everything that’s going to happen here.”
Jones said that the Bed & Breakfast was the brainchild of Ronnie Gilley and that some photos depicting different stages in his career had been placed on the walls.
“I just hope people don’t get tired of looking at my mug,” Jones said laughing.
The country superstar said that he and his wife had not actually slept at the Possum Holler yet, but had been staying in their home in Enterprise.
The other County Crossing Phase 1 attractions that were officially opened today were John Anderson’s Cafeteria, Darryl Worley’s Worley Bird Saloon, and a 72-space RV park.
Phase 2 of Country Crossing is already underway and will include two hotels, a family entertainment center, and much more.
Article by Melissa Parker
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