Over 20 Public Safety Officials, Including Bristol, VA Police Chief John Austin & Bristol, VA Fire Chief Mike Armstrong, Back New Project

Coalition Welcomes Boost in Revenue to Fund Key City Services; Urge Bristol, VA Residents to Vote ‘Yes’ in Fall Referendum

BRISTOL, VA (October 13, 2020) – Today, the ‘Vote Yes For Bristol’ referendum committee announced the formation of “First Responders for Bristol.”  These public safety officials have joined together to support passage of the referendum, and encourage voters to approve the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol in the upcoming election.  The members of the coalition recognize the major boost in tax revenue this project will bring to help Bristol provide critical services to its residents.  This coalition joins the “Small Businesses for Bristol” coalition, which was announced in September. The Hard Rock destination resort will create over 2,000 jobs, with an average total compensation of $46,500.  The project is also projected to generate annual city tax revenue totaling $16-21 million ($21 million would equal nearly half of Bristol, Virginia’s current budget), providing new funds that can be used for public safety and other critical city services, including:

  • Acquiring new/additional equipment
  • Providing additional career education and training opportunities
  • Recruiting and retaining more first responders with competitive pay

Members of the coalition spoke about the referendum and the positive impact the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol would have on the city:

“I am personally supporting the efforts to bring the casino and resort to Bristol, Virginia.  We are struggling to keep Bristol a thriving community.  This brings opportunity for better paying jobs, generates new business and large revenues for the city. Additional tax revenues will allow the city to hire more first responders and acquire better equipment to keep residents safe. This is our opportunity to provide a lot of unemployed citizens with gainful employment. The casino is only a small part of this venture. Added revenue will allow the city to provide better services to the citizens of Bristol, Virginia.  The economic impact of this project will allow businesses in our area to flourish.”

John Austin Police Chief, City of Bristol, VA

“The potential to have millions a year coming into the city that we don’t have now, that’s the opportunity for improved equipment for the fire department, police department, and all different departments within the city, who are in turn trying to provide the best possible services we can for our taxpayers.  Every year we’re challenged to get by and make the most with the resources we have. I think this is a great opportunity for this city to get ahead.  As a resident, as a taxpayer, I’m completely in favor of it. I think any business opportunity that can come in and create 2,000 jobs…that’s just unheard of.”

Mike Armstrong Fire Chief, City of Bristol, VA

“Bristol, Virginia is our home. We have dedicated our lives to keeping residents here safe and making our city stronger. That same commitment to this city and its people is why I am proud to support the casino referendum this fall. We know that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol will bring thousands of good paying jobs to our community and create millions in new tax revenue that will fund schools, police, and other important needs. To grow Bristol in the years ahead and make this great city even greater we need to come together and vote yes for the casino referendum and truly vote yes for Bristol.”

Jackie Thurston President, Bristol Fraternal Order of Police Retired Sergeant, Bristol, VA Police Department

“I strongly SUPPORT the Bristol Casino and Resort Project.  I think that the City of Bristol needs the Resort and Casino and that any project Mr. Stacy and his staff has a hand in will be nothing but a successful one.  I also feel that the staff there have nothing but the best intentions for this City.”

Bobby Nichols Training Coordinator, SWVA Criminal Justice Training Academy

For more information about ‘Vote Yes For Bristol,’ including how to join the “First Responders for Bristol” coalition, please visit yesforbristol.org/support. The current membership list of the “First Responders for Bristol” coalition can be found below:

  • John Austin, Chief, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Maynard Ratcliff, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Thomas Dula, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Jackie Thurston, President, FOP – Bristol Chapter
  • Charlie Jones, Retired Captain, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Andy Kristofek, Retired Captain, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • Douglas Cooper, Retired, Bristol VA Police Dept.
  • John H. Thornburg Jr., Retired Master Trooper, Virginia State Police
  • Russ Malone, Bristol VA Sheriff’s Office
  • Jeff Linnen, Bristol VA Sheriff’s Office
  • Tim Tester, SWVA Criminal Justice Training Academy
  • Bobby Nichols, Training Coordinator, SWVA Criminal Justice Training Academy
  • Mike Armstrong, Chief, Bristol VA Fire Dept
  • Morgan O’Quinn, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Gary Russell, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Michael Hardin, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Joshua Morenings, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Josh Adkins, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Logan Franklin, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Quentin Swinney, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Trey Long, Bristol VA Fire Dept.
  • Jeffery Quillen, Bristol VA Fire Dept.


For Immediate Release


Lindsey Holman

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