Thursday, February 27, 2014
An Elmira woman’s dream of establishing a local hub for Honor Flights as a way to pay tribute to her father and all veterans is close to becoming a reality.
DeAnna Deneen said a $100,000 donation by Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, will cover at least all the associated with the first Twin Tiers Honor Flight. That flight is scheduled for April 5 out of Binghamton.
The plane, a charter Boeing 737, will fly dozens of veterans and their companions from the Greater Binghamton Airport to Washington, D.C., for a tour of military monuments and memorials. The flight will return later that day.
“This has become my way of giving tribute to my father and to all veterans,” Deneen said. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t speak English today. We’d be occupied, and we would not be the country we are.”
The local organization is part of the nonprofit National Honor Flight Network, which was formed in 2005. Through 2012, the flights had served more than 98,500 veterans from 127 hubs in 41 states, according to the websitehonorflight.org.
Honor Flights are for all veterans of World War II and terminally ill veterans of other eras. Some hubs, such as the one Deneen is organizing, include all Korean War veterans.
Deneen, a native of Louisville, Ky., moved to Elmira two years ago. Before that, she traveled back and forth for several years after her husband, Jeffrey, was transferred to the Elmira area by his in 2006. She is a substitute teacher and the mother of three. Deneen speaks with a Southern accent that helped her land the starring role as Sugar Lee in the recent Elmira Little Theatre production of “The Hallelujah Girls.”
About a year and a half before she relocated, Deneen began formulating a plan to start a local Honor Flight. She knew that most veterans from this region who have taken such flights had to stay overnight in Rochester.
Deneen said she hoped to fly out of the Elmira Corning Regional Airport, but she found more interest at the Binghamton airport. She hopes to eventually add flights out of Big Flats, with a goal of two or three flights a year from the region.
Linn Redder, vice president of marketing at Tioga Downs , said she and Gural hope his donation will encourage other businesses in the region to contribute to future flights. As for Tioga Downs, she said, “If this is a huge success, I’m sure it’s something that we would absolutely do again.”
Deneen praised Gural for embracing the project “when we had a great deal of difficulty finding believers.” She said that “without the generous support of citizens like Mr. Gural, this mission could not be accomplished.”
Redder said Gural plans to go on the first local Honor Flight with his wife, Paula.
Eligible veterans fly for free. Each must be accompanied by a guardian, who pays full . That price, typically a tax-deductible $425, will be $100 for this flight, Deneen said.
As of mid-February, Deneen had registered 30 veterans for the flight. She said she’s enlisted most of them after speaking to veterans organizations across the region and at the Bath VA Medical Center, although “I find them everywhere — at the grocery store, at the, at Mass.”
Deneen, an Air National Guard veteran, said she has traced her family’s military history to the Civil and Revolutionary wars. Her late father, her uncles and two brothers served in the military, and her two sons now are in the Navy.
“In a lot of ways,” she said, “the military is my family business.”
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Monday, December 23, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2013
Contact: Linn Redder
Tioga Downs Marketing Director
A check presentation ceremony was held at Tioga Downs Casino on Friday, December 20th in celebration of contributions made in 2013 to community charities. Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment Jeff Gural was on hand for the event, which included a recognition of the significant role he played in raising the donated amounts.
To date, funds raised by Tioga Downs, in conjunction with Mr. Gural’s personal donations, have raised over $900,000 that has gone back into the local Southern Tier community. In total, American Racing and Entertainment, which includes Tioga Downs and its sister facility Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, and in conjunction with Mr. Gural’s personal donations, has donated over $1.4 million dollars.
Representatives from the charities were on hand at Tioga Downs today to receive their donation checks. Natasha Thompson, President and CEO of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier received a check for $60,000, which was a combined effort between Tioga Downs Casino and the Southern Tier Horsemen Association. Naima Kradjian of the Goodwill Theater received a check totaling $15,000. Ben and Sue Margolius of the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group received a check for $80,600, and Ralph Kelsey and Dave Ostrander of the Tioga County Senior Citizens Foundation received a donation in the amount of $10,000.
Since the opening of Tioga Downs Casino, it has been a top priority for Mr. Gural to give back to the surrounding communities. This was achieved by building strong relationships with charitable organizations and reaching high volumes of revenue that was then funneled back in the form of educational aid.
In addition, Mr. Gural was the recipient of a special award in recognition of a sum totaling $500,000 that was donated to the American Red Cross in aid of victims of Hurricane Sandy. The donation was made possible through a combined effort between Mr. Gural, Tioga Downs Casino, Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel, and Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment. American Red Cross Community Executive Shelly Bierwiller was present to recognize Mr. Gual’s efforts.
For more information about Tioga Downs Casino, go to www.tiogadowns.com, or visit us on Facebook.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2013
Contact: Linn Redder
Tioga Downs Marketing Director
Tioga Downs Casino Celebrates Passage of Proposition #1
Tioga Downs Casino and owner Jeffrey Gural wish to thank the voters of the Southern Tier for their overwhelming support toward the passage of Proposition #1 in Tuesday’s election, allowing for 4 full-scale casinos in Upstate New York. Tioga Downs will be applying for a license in the Southern Tier region. Tioga Downs plans to build a new 136 room hotel, events center and expand the gaming floor that will include table games and a poker room. Thursday morning preliminary preparation for the 275 space parking garage will begin and the groundbreaking to follow November 18th.
According to Jeff Gural, Chairman and CEO of American Racing and Entertainment, the expanded facility will provide over 600 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs running the Casino and hotel complex.
“We are very, very pleased with the passing of Prop 1. The results were overwhelming, especially from our surrounding counties that understand that legalizing full gaming will create jobs in the Southern Tier and have a positive impact on the economy. Tioga Downs Casino has been a good neighbor and will continue to give back to the Southern Tier,” said Gural. Additionally, the taxes paid by the new casino will greatly benefit education across the entire state.
Tioga Downs Casino will be holding a special day of activities and offers to celebrate the passage of Proposition #1, which will include the groundbreaking for the new parking structure and a special $5 buffet for the public all day in the County Fair Buffet. The festivities will be held on Monday, November 18th, with the groundbreaking scheduled for 2pm at Tioga Downs. There will be free cake for all customers following the ribbon cutting.
Tioga Downs Casino is located along the north side of NY Route 17/ I-86, two miles west of exit 62 in Nichols, NY.
Friday, November 1, 2013
community leaders from the Southern Tier joined together Thursday at Tioga Downs Casino to urge
New Yorkers to vote "yes" on Proposition #1, which would authorize four additional casinos in
Upstate New York, including one in the Tioga Downs Region. If passed, Proposition #1 will send
millions of dollars in tax revenue to the area to improve schools, help local governments fund critical
services, and relieve property tax pressure.
New Yorkers currently spend more than $3 billion annually at casinos in Canada, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York State-based non tax-paying Indian Casinos.
Proposition #1 would start to bring that money back to New York and create over 10,000 well-paying
new jobs in New York State.
Other speakers at the session included President of SUNY Broome Community College Dr. Kevin
Drumm, Broome County Legislature Chairman Jerry Marinich, Workers United Representative Gary
Bonadonna, Tioga County Chamber President and Legislator Martha Sauerbrey, Tioga County
Economic Development & Planning Director Lee Ann Tinney, Tioga County Legislature Chairman
Dale Weston, Former Nichols Fire Chief Truman Kittle and Goodwill Theater CEO Naima Kradjian,
who detailed how Proposition #1 would benefit New York and the Southern Tier Region.
"Proposal One's approval by the voters would give Tioga Downs the opportunity to compete for a
casino license in upstate New York. Plans are already in the works for a $70 million investment that
would create 300 construction jobs and 200 more permanent jobs," said Senator Tom O'Mara.
“Proposal One could help, in my view, and it’s hard to ignore the potential for new jobs, new local
investment, new local revenue, new local tax relief and, at the same time, new aid for meaningful local
programs and services. Vote yes."
"The Tioga County Chamber of Commerce supports Proposition #1. Tioga County understands the
need to revitalize our Southern Tier area," said Martha Sauerbrey, President of the Tioga Chamber and
a County Legislator. "We need jobs, and we need opportunity. This is a start to reach that goal with the
passage of Prop #1."
"It's not just about jobs or revenue…it's about building a regional tourist economy. We want to bring
people to the area to enjoy the full spectrum of what our region has to offer, including the wineries,
museums and Tioga Downs," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who pointed out that Tioga
Downs also supports the local economy by buying their produce from local farmers. She urged
listeners to Vote Yes on Proposition #1 next Tuesday.
Additional Quotes from
Proposition #1 Community Support Session Participants
Quote from State Senator John Bonacic: "It is very important for the seven counties in the Tioga region to vote "yes" on the casino amendment on November 5th. A destination casino resort will bring construction and permanent jobs for the region, as well as bringing new education money to the schools, and property tax
relief to landowners throughout that region." - Senator John J. Bonacic (R/C/I)
Quote from William H. Standinger III, Tioga County Legislature
I believe that proposition #1 would be a benefit to any area of NY State that is granted the right
to host a facility that includes a Casino. There has been only positive effects on Tioga County as
a result of Tioga Downs operating in Nichols, and if an opportunity for expansion is allowed to
occur I believe it would positively impact the economy of Tioga County and the surrounding
Quote from Tim Whitesell, Supervisor of the Town of Binghamton: "We are strongly supporting Proposal One because it will bring thousands of living wage jobs to our state, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to pay for our schools, and provide much needed tax relief to struggling homeowners. The New York Times might think we are isolated – but we’re not. If Proposition #1 will help stimulate the economy of our area by generating thousands of living wage jobs, than we have to be supportive of the measure.
Wait - isn’t that the exact same thing we have been speaking of with drilling? It does have a
familiar tone - exactly. This would mean that everyone signing onto this issue should also be on
the supportive side of opening up drilling in our isolated area of the Southern Tier. Lets all help Governor Cuomo by supporting his agenda while we get his deaf ear he has turned on us in the Southern Tier with respect to opening drilling for our own economic benefit. I will support Proposition #1 only for its benefit we may realize with Tioga Downs. With that said let Albany know that the other issue in the Southern Tier has more deeper routes on a more personal level to each of our property owners. Let our voices be heard.”
Quote from Martha Robertson, Chairperson, Tompkins Co. Legislature plus 4 other
Statement in support of Proposition #1
Right now, New Yorkers are crossing state lines and spending $1.2 billion in casinos in
Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. We believe it's time to bring that money back to
New York, so we urge passage of Proposition #1 - "Authorizing Casino Gaming" - on the
statewide ballot on November 5. Proposition #1 will establish up to seven full gaming licenses in
Non-Native American Compact Zones, creating jobs, generating new revenue for education and
state aid, and offsetting property taxes.
Full casino gaming will create an estimated 1,000 direct and indirect jobs upstate, and bring in
new revenues allowing for greater state aid to education, thereby enabling a greater offset of
local school taxes. In addition income will also be directly shared with all counties in the region
of a full gaming licensed facility, allowing for a greater offset of county property taxes. According to the NYS Division of the Budget, each year Tompkins County schools would receive almost $985,000, and Tompkins County government would receive almost $1,350,000. These resources would mean significant property tax relief to our citizens. We urge voters to support Proposition #1 because there's no reason that a state border should mean that money is leaving our communities rather than coming in.
Martha Robertson, Chairperson, Tompkins County Legislature, and District 13, Town of Dryden
Jim Dennis, District 15, Towns of Ulysses and Enfield
Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, District 2, City of Ithaca
Frank Proto, District 7, Towns of Danby, Caroline, and Ithaca
Nathan Shinagawa, District 4, City of Ithaca
Quote from Benjamin Margolius of the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group
"Our public mission is to help veterans and their families, and we couldn't do that without Tioga
Downs. For the past three years, the outpouring of support from Tioga Downs has allowed us to
provide support for veterans and families through 75 agencies in 7 counties in NY from Broome
Quote from former Nichols Fire Chief Truman Kittle
"From the 2006 flood, when they helped us go door to door with water and supplies, through the
2011 flood when their employees helped with clean-up and they made a generous contribution
for a new boat for the fire department, they have been a good community partner. They're more
than good neighbors. They're good friends."
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
|Photo Courtesy of Bill Stein|
Witherite also to assume roles as lead handicapper and fan education ambassador
Tioga Downs is proud to announce that James Witherite, one of the top young announcers in harness racing, will become the track's full-time race caller beginning with the 2014 racing season.
The 27-year-old Pennsylvania native has spent the past seven years as the track announcer at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. Witherite has also called races at more than 60 harness and thoroughbred tracks throughout North America.
"I have always been impressed with every aspect of the racing product at Tioga," said Witherite, who has had the opportunity over the past few years to call a couple of race cards each season at Tioga Downs. "While I've enjoyed a great seven years at Philadelphia and called some remarkable miles there, I'm looking forward to this new endeavor."
In addition to announcing the races, Witherite will provide his race analysis and commentary in the racing program and on the Tioga Downs website. He will also conduct fan education seminars, meet-and-greets with on-track visitors and even play live music. Witherite is an accomplished multi-instrumental musician and composer.
"We've always had a rotating cast of announcers during our race meet, but when it became apparent that James was available, we jumped at the opportunity to get not only one of the premier race callers in our sport, but also a talented and passionate promoter of all aspects of the industry," said Jason Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing.
"We have great racing here at Tioga and James will only enhance that product," said Jason Bluhm, Senior Director of Racing. "We plan on creating a pre-race show among other enhancements to our live product and James will be an important part of that. I feel privileged to have him join the team."
Witherite will begin his new role this winter working as a fan education ambassador at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Tioga's sister property located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He will then relocate to Tioga Downs when its racing season begins.
The ninth season of live racing at Tioga Downs is scheduled to begin on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3, 2014 (pending regulatory approval).
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Export Handle nearly flat, Live Handle declines due to cold, rainy start to season
NICHOLS, NY – A pair of world records were set and nine track records were matched or broken, highlighting the recently concluded live racing season at Tioga Downs.
All-sources handle on the track’s signature race days was up, including the fourth-highest single day handle in the track’s eight-season history set on Roll With Joe & Artiscape Day in June. Live handle was also up nearly 10 percent on Cane Pace Day in September.
For the season, export handle, which includes wagers on Tioga Downs races from off-track locations nationwide, was down 1 percent. Live handle, which includes only wagers on Tioga Downs races made on-track, was down 12 percent thanks to an unusually cold and rainy early part of the season.
“Obviously we’re disappointed any time our handle is down, but we’re a sport that’s played outdoors and unfortunately you can’t do anything about Mother Nature,” said Jason Settlemoir, Vice President of Racing and Simulcast. “However, I am very encouraged by our strong business on our signature race days that we have worked very hard to promote to both our on-track guests and also to the fans and bettors around North America.”
Among the highlights of the 61-day meet were record-setting wins by a “who’s who” of the sport’s top horses. World champion Pet Rock equaled the fastest time ever at Tioga Downs with his 1:48.1 win in June’s Roll With Joe Open Pace while recent Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation proved his dominance in New York with a world-record setting 1:48.3 victory in August’s Empire Breeders Classic.
|Pacer of the Year Eastend Eddie with Keith Kamann|
For the second year in a row, Tioga Downs played host to the Cane Pace, opening leg of Pacing’s Triple Crown. The sport’s biggest star, Captaintreacherous, brought an enthusiastic Labor Day crowd to its feet by narrowly holding off longshot Word Power. With a total purse of $360,211, the Cane Pace was the richest single race ever conducted at Tioga Downs.
Jim Marohn, Jr. captured his second straight driving title with 76 wins while also becoming the first locally based driver to win the Tioga/Vernon All-Star Drivers Championship against the premier drivers in the sport. Jamie Paquet became the first female to win the Tioga Downs training title with 24 wins. On the equine side, Eastend Eddie and Aruba Vacation both repeated as pacer and trotter of the year, respectively.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
|Eastend Eddie wins again to close out 2013|
Two divisions of 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers in the Reynolds Stakes were captured by Stratos Hanover – Andy Miller (1:54.1) for trainer Joe Holloway, and Beat The Drum – Jim Meittinis (1:53.3) for Staffan Lind.
The fillies also drew two divisions in the Reynolds, and were taken by: Ali Blue – Jimmy Takter (1:53.4) also trained by Jimmy Takter, and Instant Respect – Jimmy Takter (1:54.1) to complete the Takter sweep of the Reynolds filly pace.
In the $16,000 open handicap pace, Eastend Eddie continued his dominating ways and even did it against free for all pacer, Hurrikane Kingcole, who was shipped in to Tioga Downs for closing night by trainer John Mc Dermott. Driver Matt Kakaley settled Eastend Eddie in fifth as Aaron Byron hustled Hurrikane Kingcole to the front, but was unable to clear until past the opening quarter in 26.4. From there Byron tried to rate the 4-year-old son of Cam's Card Shark on the front getting by the half mile mark in 54.2. Down the backside Eastend Eddie was underway from the back of the pack by Kakaley and by three quarters in 1:22.1, Kingcole was under attack on the front end as Andy Miller had pulled the pocket with Panesthetic.
Around the final turn it was apparent that Hurrikane Kingcole had enough and Eastend Eddie was charging three wide eating up ground with every stride. In deep stretch Eastend Eddie had put the field away once again to win by two lengths in 1:51.2.
It was the tenth win of the season, nine of which have come at Tioga Downs for Eastend Eddie who was named the 2013 pacer of the year at Tioga Downs making it two years in a row for the Ron Burke trainee.
The 2013 year end awards were given out on Saturday night at Tioga Downs wrapping up its eighth racing season and the 2013 driver of the year was: Jimmy Marohn Jr (76 wins) for the second consecutive year, trainer of the year: Jamie Paquet (24 wins), trotter of the year: Aruba Vacation, and pacer of the year: Eastend Eddie (2ndconsecutive year).
Tioga Downs would like to thank all of its fans and horsemen for their support in making 2013 another successful year of harness racing in Nichols, NY. For more information on Tioga Downs please visit us online at www.tiogadowns.com .
Friday, September 13, 2013
|For You Almostfree and Aaron Byron|
Leaving from post position number three in a field of eight, Byron got For You Almostfree away sixth as Neighsay Hanover (Jim Meittinis) took the field by the opening quarter in 27.1. As the field went by the three eighth's mile mark of the race, Howard Parker brushed Cold Certified to the front but paid a steep price for the move as they got to the half mile in 55.1. Down the backside, Speculation (Mike Merton) moved first over with For You Almostfree following second over cover. The field passed the three quarter station in 1:24.1 as Cold Certified was feeling the effects of the opening half and was beginning to fade. Byron tipped For You Almostfree three wide around the last turn and he responded opening up with ease to win by more than four lengths in 1:54.1. In Your Room (Mike Simons) trotted home late to be second, while longshot Surface Tension (Fern Paquet Jr.) finished third.
John McDermott trains the 5-year-old son of Glidemaster – Pizza Dolce who won for the seventh time in 27 seasonal outings, good for earnings of more than $113,000.
Corey Braden, Rod Allen, and Mike Simons each posted driving doubles on the night's 10-race card.
Tioga Downs wraps up its 2013 racing season on Saturday, September 14th with a post time of 6:50pm, featuring two divisions of the Reynolds Stakes for 2-year-old filly pacers and two divisions for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers. Tioga Downs will also have the finale of the 2013 Horseplay Car Giveaway, fireworks following live racing, and many giveaways during the racing program.
For more information on Tioga Downs please visit us online at www.tiogadowns.com .
|Fiesta Camcun eats up the sloppy track|
Leaving from post position number four in a field of eight, Fiesta Camcun got to the opening quarter in 27.4 and the half mile mark in 57.1. As the field headed towards three quarters, Little Santamonica (Aaron Byron) applied heavy first over pressure and those two raced stride for stride through a third panel in 26.3, reaching three quarters in 1:23.4. Around the final turn, Braden and Fiesta Camcun had repelled the challenge of Little Santamonica, but the backfield was in motion. In deep stretch Braden continued to work on Fiesta Camcun and the iron tough mare held strong through the stretch to win by half a length in 1:52.4 over a track listed as sloppy. Southwind Trini (Mike Simons) raced well from off the pace to finish second, while Arodasi (Jason Beattie) closed from seventh at the top of the stretch to finish third.
Paul Bernardo trains the 7-year-old daughter of Camotion – Perfect Catch who won for the 8th time in 32 seasonal starts good for earnings of more than $57,000.
Aaron Byron posted a driving triple on the night's 11-race card, while Mike Simons, Corey Braden, and Fern Paquet Jr. each recorded doubles.
Tioga Downs continues live racing action on Friday, September 13 with a post time of 6:50pm, for more information on Tioga Downs please visit us online at www.tiogadowns.com .