Mercy Health Love County - News

Dollar Tree Warehouse and WinStar Casino Turn 20 in 2023

Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2023


Dollar Tree Award: Love County Chamber of Commerce President Kendra
Tucker presented a 20-year plaque on September 23, 2023, to Rick Pyron,
General Manager of Dollar Tree’s Marietta Regional Distribution Center.

Two major employers in Love County, Dollar Tree, Inc., and WinStar World Casino and Resort, marked their 20th anniversaries in 2023.

Dollar Tree’s Marietta Regional Distribution Center opened in May 2003 and currently employs  485 people. Carmen Aldaba Chavez, Charlotte Butler, Keisha Halstied, Beverly Morris, Ramon Vega Neave, Mark Sampson, Clifton Wright, and Vanessa Wright have been there from the beginning.

The workers sort and ship products to all Dollar Tree variety stores in Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas, and portions of multiple other states. Semitrailer trucks roll in and out of the tract at the interchange of Interstate 35 and State Highway 32 day and night.

At a 20-year celebration on September 23, 2023, Kendra Tucker, representing the Love County Chamber of Commerce, thanked Dollar Tree employees for their participation in community charitable events and celebrations.

Tucker said in recent years, the business paid an average of $500,000 annually in property taxes that are used to fund schools, the health department, and county government, among other entities. “Dollar Tree is making a way for hundreds of families to have the tools necessary to thrive,” she said.

Tucker, the owner of Marietta Abstract Company, then revealed that she was a direct beneficiary in 2003 when graduating from Marietta High School. “I was the very first Dollar Tree Scholarship recipient. I was awarded $500. Today I own a vital business, and am this year’s Chamber of Commerce president.”

Marietta beat out five other sites in Oklahoma and six sites in Texas to land the $40 million-plus facility, according to Jack Lyne, writing in 2003 in Site Selection magazine. Charles Kimbrough, then the site location manager for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, contacted Marietta.

But leaders in the City of Marietta, the Love County Industrial Foundation, and the County Commissioners turned to the experience and expertise of the Ardmore Development Authority to recruit the project. Marietta is within the southern service area of ADA and actually is closer to Ardmore than is the Ardmore Airpark, a plum project of the ADA north of the city.

Wes Stucky, ADA President at the time, worked out the details and the ADA served as general contractor for the Dollar Tree project to buy the land and construct the building. That same year, the ADA was doing similar build-and-lease construction for a plant addition and a warehouse at Michelin in Ardmore, according to news sources.

The Dollar Tree building began with 603,000 square feet of space and 125 workers. In 2013, an expansion added 400,000 square feet at a cost to Dollar Tree of $25 million. More than 100 new positions were created as a result.

WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville also had a 20th anniversary in 2023. The business is the largest employer in southern Oklahoma. Casino and hotel workers fill 2,700 jobs, according to the Chickasaw Nation media office.

The tribe touts WinStar, its first casino, as having  the largest gaming floor in the world, at 600,000 square feet, and the largest number of gaming machines, with 10,500. Players also enjoy poker and other table games, and some still play the simple game of bingo that launched the entire enterprise.

The smartly-uniformed resort staff serve patrons at posh, international city-themed gaming plazas, high-rise hotels, golf courses, RV park, restaurants, and convention and entertainment centers that have sprouted steadily at the site since opening day.  

Outdoors, animated marquees and effusive lighting illuminate the night sky for almost a mile alongside the east side of Interstate 35 at Oklahoma Exit 1.

WinStar began in July 2003 in a more modest space of 7,000 square feet beneath a sturdy tent. The Touso Ishto Gaming Center in Thackerville had constructed a “Sprung” building of aluminum trusses covered in heavy duty vinyl in which to introduce Class II gaming.

One thousand brand new electronic machines were added to the paper bingo and off-track betting that had been offered since 1991.  Several hundred additional employees were hired for the expanded facility. Touso Ishto also gained three restaurants, a 600-seat theater, and a new name, WinStar Casino.

The Chickasaw Nation’s flagship casino was meant to grow.  A multi-page printout mounted on the walls of the general manager’s office in the early 2000’s depicted the planned addition 10 years out of every casino plaza and hotel that became a reality.

Over the next 20 years, the tribe built 20 more casinos in its territory, which ranges fom the Red River to the outskirts of Norman. Altogether the gaming centers engendered net revenue in 2022 of $1.5 billion, according to the 2023 Chickasaw annual “Progress Report.”

Profits were plowed into dozens of other business startups and acquisitions in the region until total Chickasaw Nation employment grew to 14,000 persons. Health and human services ensued for Chickasaw citizens (77,000 in 2022) from cradle to grave.

Also, cities and residents throughout the Chickasaw Nation continue to benefit from millions of dollars in Chickasaw Nation giving to community projects.

Marietta’s steel fabrication plant on Brentwood Avenue was an early purchase, in 2004.  After a former owner closed the plant, the Chickasaw Nation, prompted by Marietta Tribal Legislator Linda Briggs, quickly bought and reopened the company, known today as Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI).

WinStar is the largest customer of Red River Valley Rural Electric Association, another important Love County business.