09/06/2006 11:00PM

Oaklawn fund starts with $1M gift


During an election drive last November to gain approval for expanded gaming at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., the track's president, Charles Cella, agreed to put up $1 million to establish a charitable foundation for the city if the referendum was successful. Thursday, he came through on his word, and presented the Oaklawn Foundation with a $1 million check to launch an organization that will fund scholarships for the area's youth and build a center for aging.

The new foundation will receive continuing funding of $250,000 to $500,000 a year from gaming revenue. Oaklawn could begin operating the additional gaming before the end of the year, track officials said. The games will be in addition to Instant Racing, the electronic parimutuel game now in place at Oaklawn.

Cella's donation was the largest single gift ever to a charity in Hot Springs. It is to be divided equally between the scholarship side of the foundation, and the senior citizen center. During the presentation on Thursday, a board of 13 trustees was announced for the Oaklawn Foundation. The organization will be managed under a contract with the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce.