Vandalism Strikes Site for Planned Casino in Washington

Vandals peppered entrance with 100-plus nails for much-debated casino location


Jun. 2--The site of the Nooksack Indian Tribe's planned casino was vandalized with more than 100 aluminum nails spread across the driveway entrance.

Larry Mount, chief of Nooksack Tribal Police, said the nails were "systematically spread across the whole driveway" for 8 to 10 feet. They were placed there between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Mount would not speculate about a motive.

The tribe's plans to build a casino at Northwood and Halverstick roads have sparked heated opposition. The site is on tribal land north of Lynden and in the middle of an agricultural area.

A grassroots community group called ag YES casiNO is fighting the casino project, which it says threatens agricultural land. But the group has denounced the vandalism.

"We didn't have any knowledge of that kind of activity," said Colleen Wolfisberg, a member of the group, "and we don't condone that kind of activity."

Mike Wootan, manager of the Nooksack River Casino in Deming, said he wasn't surprised about the vandalism because he had heard threatening comments previously.

"I hope it was an accident," Wootan said. "But it concerns me that it may be something we're going to experience more of."

Maintenance employees for the tribe cleaned up the nails but could not use magnets to do so because the nails were aluminum, Wootan said.

Wootan plans to install surveillance equipment at the site soon, and Tribal Police may increase security.

"Officers will probably drive out there a little more often," Mount said. "We'll definitely take a greater interest that the place is secure."

Reach Serena Lei at serena.lei@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2264.

<<The Bellingham Herald (WA)(KRT) -- 06/05/06>>