A Decade’s Change

West Baden Atrium Before and After
We’ve all heard the old saying, “What a difference a day makes.” But in reality, that saying would be better adapted to “What a difference ten years can make” when you’re looking at the changes that the communities of French Lick and West Baden have undergone.
French Lick Springs Hotel
It was November 3, 2006 when the newly renovated French Lick Resort opened its doors to the public, complete with a hard-fought-for casino. Thanks to the improvements and additions, this area was on a new path to growth.

Barry Wininger
Barry Wininger was a member of the town council at the time and remembers the impact the resort had on the community then. “The difference from ten years ago is unbelievable. French Lick is not the same, it’s turned completely around. We have new buildings, new streets and sidewalks, trails – all because Cook came here.”
Wininger recalls how things were a decade ago, “The infrastructure was in shambles for the town. Everything was falling apart including the sewers. The town had been in trouble for about 40 years.”

French Lick Casino Today
“We decided to take out bonds against the casino knowing that once the casino revenue came in, we could pay off our bonds. We’d be able to make improvements one to two years out,” he said. “Thanks to the casino, our city revenues were $110,00 million in 2007. We’re very fortunate that as the bonds were paid off, we were able to stay ahead. French Lick has been pro-active in making sure to spend only for the money coming in from revenues. Without the Cooks, and the bonds they bought, we’d never been able to do any of this."
Town of French Lick, Indiana
Wininger believes the towns were literally reinvented. The communities kept their historical buildings and now work ardently to preserve the history that is here. And what does Wininger believe the future holds for this region? “I see a great future, although it doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years. It seems like just yesterday. Orange County is getting better. Saturday nights the sidewalks used to roll up at 6:00 and now people are out strolling around at 11pm. I think the future holds only good things for French Lick and the resort.”
By Joy Neighbors