By Ray King

Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington said Monday that she has not had contact yet with Joseph Byrd, the new chairman of the Quapaw Tribe, but plans to do so in the near future.

Byrd defeated current Chairman John Berrey in an election Saturday and will be sworn in Aug. 15. The tribe owns and operates the Saracen Casino which is expected to open in September.

Appearing on the Oldies 101.3 morning show, Washington said she found out about the change in leadership late Saturday. She said she has been told that Byrd has never been to Pine Bluff but thinks he will some time soon because of the work going on at the casino.

Washington said she was “blind-sighted by the vote” and hopes that the commitments made to the city and county by Berrey will continue under the new leadership.

She went on to say that even though Berrey is out and Joseph Byrd is in as chairman of the tribe, she did not expect any major changes to occur.