Meet Our Staff

 

Our Staff consists of highly trained personnel who have a combined total of 236 years of gaming experience as of 2014. Over 90% of our staff has a Bachelors degree or higher. We operate under our own seperate Personnel Policy from the Tribe and Casino. Our Staff is highly motivated and well trained. The Executive Director is hired by the Commissioners. The day to day staff reports directly to the Executive Director.   

                                                                            (Click photo to read the bio)

Rita Grasty
Rita served in the US Navy aboard the USS Acadia prior to working as an Office Manager at a Women's Clinic. She began her career with the TGC in March ‘98 as a Gaming Inspector, working her way through a variety of titles before being hired as the Executive Director in May ‘17. While working for the Commission Rita received a Bachelors in Business Administration furthering her education to a Master's in Management in Leadership at Montreat College in '09. Her downtime is spent with her family.
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Rita Grasty

Executive Director - Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission

Emra Arkansas
Emra came to the TGC with a total of 12 years Casino Experience. She began in Table Games and then moved to the Casino Marketing Team as a Casino Host. Emra climbed the ladder to a Casino Marketing Manager where she oversaw the VIP Host Team. Emra holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and in History from ETSU. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies from the University of Oklahoma, specializing in Indian Law. Emra enjoys globetrotting and spending time with her family and friends.
Jim Reed
Jim came to the Commission from the Casino where he held the position of Surveillance Manager. He has a total of 22 plus years of Gaming experience. He holds a Master’s Degree from Montreat College. Jim has been married for 19 years and has 3 Daughters ages 2, 9, and 18. Jim enjoys fishing, Sports and family time.
Tonya Toineeta
Tonya came to the Commission in 1999 as a Background/License Officer, from Tribal Bingo. She later moved to the TGC Executive Assistant. Tonya holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. She resides in the Wolftown Community with her husband and two children, Kendall and Anthony.
Melissa Smith
In 2017 Melissa has been employed with the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission for 18 years. She resides in the Birdtown Community with her three children, Blake, Rossi and Jaxtyn. She has an Associates and Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Montreat College. She oversees an annual budget for the Commission of almost $7 million dollars.
Wanda McLendon
Wanda has been with the Tribal Gaming Commission since it was originally established. She earned both her B.S. in Business Administration and her M.S. in Management and Leadership from Montreat College. Over the years she has held several positions with the Gaming Commission but enjoys her current position the most. In her spare time, Wanda enjoys traveling with her family.
Heather Younce
Heather has been with the Commission since 2003. She resides in the Painttown community with her husband and two boys while their daughter is in college at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Libbi Rose
Libbi is a License Officer/Background Investigator. She has worked with the TGC for a total of 9 1/2 years. She enjoys quality time with her kids who are 19, 18, & 14 along with two dogs and one cat. Her favorite past-times also include camping and hiking.
Teia Connor
Teia came to work at the Tribal Gaming Commission as a Background/License officer in 2015. She enjoys spending her free time with her son Memphis.
Melissa Phillips
Melissa came to the TGC from the Casino where she worked for 5 Years. She enjoys spending time with her son and listening to music. Melissa is currently pursuing degrees in Criminal Justice and Psychology.
Katie Smith
Katie came to the Gaming Commission in 2017 from the Casino where she was employed for 11.5 years. Katie held positions in the Food and Beverage and Beverage/Operations departments. Katie is currently working towards her Bachelors in Business Management. She enjoys spending time with her three children and her husband.
Donald Wolfe
Don lives in the Big Cove Community with his wife. He holds a Masters Degree in Management and Leadership from Montreat College. He has 3 children and enjoys gardening and enjoying his grandchildren.
Verlin Lambert
In 2017 Verlin has been with the Commission for 18 years, prior to the Commission he worked for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. In his spare time, Verlin enjoys fishing and the outdoors. He resides in the 3200 Acre Tract Community.
Telly Banks
Telly has worked for the Commission since 2004, prior to that he worked at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in the positions of Impressment Staff and as a Games Performance Slot Technician. Telly has 3 degrees from Western Carolina University that include a degree in European History, Modern Philosophy, and Special Education.
Shelly Blankenship
Shelly has been with the Commission since 2012. She graduated from Southwestern Community College with a diploma in HVAC and Heating and Refrigeration, in which she also holds universal certification. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors.
Luke Buchanan
Luke Buchanan is the Supervisor of Enforcement at our new property located in Murphy. In 1999 he started as a cage cashier in the finance department at Harrah’s Cherokee and was promoted in 2000 to Cage Supervisor and then to Cage Relief Shift Manager. Luke was hired by the TGC in 2006 as a Gaming Inspector. Luke is currently studying for a Degree in Criminal Justice. He currently resides in Murphy NC with his wife Beth. His hobbies include hunting, watching football and playing golf.
Roy Bradley
Roy has been with the Commission since October of 2012 and began working in the gaming industry in 2008. He holds diplomas in HVAC and Refrigeration Technology and Electrical/Electronic Technology from Southwestern Community College. The most important interest he has outside of work is his family, wife, Maria and sons Steve and William. Other interests are hunting, fishing, football, basketball, and other outdoor activities which keep him active.
Wayne Seibert
Wayne has been with the Commission for 5 years. He is a US Air Force Veteran and graduated from the University of Houston. Wayne has four sons, Kevin, Peter, Steven, and Tom, who attend Smoky Mountain High School.
Matthew Bigmeat
Matt began his career at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in 2006 and has held various positions during his tenure such as Game technician, Gaming Host, Surveillance, and VIP Host. Matthew has certifications in diversity training, negotiations, and risk management. Matthew’s hobbies include motorcycling, antiques, and traveling.
Timothy Manuel
Tim joined the Commission in January 2015. Tim is a graduate of Pisgah High School and has a degree in Electronic Engineering. Tim worked at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino as a technician for three years. Tim spends his spare time in the outdoors as much as possible.
Lionel Parris
Lionel lives in Sylva with his wife Judy. Lionel started in the gaming industry in 2011. Before joining the Gaming Commission, Lionel was with the Games Performance Department as a Technician. In 2013 Lionel became a Master Technician. In his spare time, Lionel enjoys hunting, fishing, golf and coaching youth basketball.
Shawn Saunooke
Shawn started working in the gaming industry in 1995 at the Tribal Casino/Bingo with 30 machines. Shawn quickly became an Operations Supervisor. During his employment as Operations Supervisor, he received Excellence in Management and Supervisory training certificates. He left the industry in 2002, and returned in 2012 as a Surveillance Officer, prior to joining the Commission in Jan. 2015. Shawn’s hobbies include hunting and watching his children play sports.
Bruce Carpenter
Bruce came to the commission from the Casino where he worked in the Surveillance Department. He has previously worked for the Jackson County Justice Center and as a Public Safety Officer for Southwestern Community College. His hobbies include Gunsmithing, Competitive Marksmanship and spending time with his 2 daughters Alaina and Madeline.
Tina Martin
Tina joined the Gaming Commission in 2015. Before coming to the Gaming Commission she worked for Harrahs Cherokee for a total of 14 years. Tina holds an Associates Degree in Information Technologies. She currently resides in Murphy with her husband Steve. She is a proud mother of 3 children and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and cooking.
Sandra Bleckley
Sandy joined the Gaming Commission in 2015. She previously worked for Harrahs Cherokee Casino in the Finance and Surveillance Departments. She holds a AA, AS in Forest Technology and a BS in Natural Resources from Western Carolina University. In her spare time she loves spending time outdoors and at home with her three cats and one dog.
Jonathan Smith
Jon came to the commission in 2016 after having worked in the Surveillance Dept. for Harrah's Cherokee. Jon earned a BS in Fisheries & Wildlife Management from NC State in 2001.
Phasouk Kioukhom
Phasouk began working for the Gaming Commission in 2016. He joined Harrah’s Cherokee in 2009 and had held positions in the Table Games and Beverage Departments where he was a Supervisor. Phasouk attended GA State University after serving 8 years in the US Navy. He enjoys playing golf, weight training, and spending time with his dog.
Robert Nicholson
Robert was with Harrah's Cherokee for 19 Years total. He has held positions in Games Performance, Finance and Operations. Robert is currently pursuing a degree in Accounting. He enjoys spending time with his 3 children, playing bass guitar and video gaming.
Mark Patti
Mark left Harrah’s Cherokee after 5 years to join the Gaming Commission in 2016. While at Harrah’s Cherokee he earned the title of Manager in the Table Games Department. Mark attended UNC-Charlotte and lives in Andrews with his wife and son.
Stephen Shuler
Stephen was born in Sylva and now resides in Marble with his wife Erin and their children. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and playing Magic the Gathering. He has attended Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University where he studied History and Political Science.
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Emra Arkansas

Manager of Enforcement - Cherokee

Jim Reed

Manager of Enforcement - Murphy

Tonya Toineeta

Administrative Manager

Wanda McLendon 

Administrative Assistant - Murphy

Melissa Smith

Finance Officer

Heather Younce

License Officer

Libbi Rose

License Supervisor

Don Wolfe

Supervisor of Enforcement - Cherokee

Telly Banks

Lead Inspector - Cherokee

Verlin Lambert

Lead Inspector - Cherokee

Shelly Blankenship

Assistant Supervisor of Enforcement -

Cherokee

Luke Buchanan

Supervisor of Enforcement - Murphy

Roy Bradley

Lead Inspector - Cherokee

Wayne Seibert

Bingo Surveillance Officer

Matt Bigmeat

Inspector - Cherokee

Tim Manuel

Inspector - Murphy

Lionel Parris

Inspector - Cherokee

Shawn Saunooke

Inspector - Cherokee

Bruce Carpenter

Lead Inspector - Murphy

Teia Connor

License Officer

Melissa Phillips 

License Assistant/Receptionist

Katie Smith 

Administrative Assistant - Cherokee

Tina Martin

Lead Inspector - Murphy

Sandra Bleckley

Inspector - Cherokee

Jonathan Smith

Inspector - Cherokee

Phasouk Khioukhom

Inspector - Cherokee

Robert Nicholson

Inspector - Cherokee

Mark Patti

Inspector - Murphy

Frank Miller

Inspector - Murphy

Stephen Shuler

Assistant Supervisor of Enforcement - Murphy

Frank Miller
A native of Northwestern Ohio Frank moved to Murphy to escape the cold winters. Frank came to the gaming commission after 7 years in the Table Games Department. Frank now resides in Scenic Andrews with his wife Amelia. In his spare time Frank enjoys camping, cooking, grilling, reading and writing.
Dominick Hoyt
Dominick started at the Murphy Casino a little over two years ago in the Surveillance Department. Dominick is a Appalachian State Graduate and holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. In his spare time Dominick like to travel and watch soccer.
Chris Savage
Chris started in the Surveillance Department of Harrah's Valley River Casino and Hotel when the new property opened. Chris holds a Bachelor's and Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida. He enjoys Music and Hiking in his spare time.
Luther Huffman
Luther left the Casino after working just over 2 years in the Surveillance Department as a Dual Rate Supervisor. Luther has a degree from Southwestern Community College in Cyber Crime Technologies. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and fishing.
Zel Jagatic
A native of Croatia, Zel started in the gaming industry in Indiana. Zel moved to Murphy and joined Games Performance at Harrah's Cherokee Valley River before the new property opened. He enjoys spending time at home with his wife in a house full of animals.
Andrew Weaver
Andrew spent 4 years in the United States Army before joining the staff at Harrahs Cherokee Casino Resort as a Dual-Rate Surveillance Supervisor. Andrew held that position for two and a half years before he joined the Gaming Commission in 2018 at our Murphy property. Andrew enjoys playing PC games and spending time at the gun range in his spare time.
Brian Motola
Brian began working for the commission in 2018. He began his employment with Harrah's Cherokee Casino in April 1998. Brian spent over 20 years working on the Drop Team. Brian likes to spend his free time with his 3 kids.
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Chris Savage

Inspector - Murphy

Luther "Luke" Huffman

Inspector - Murphy

 Andrew Weaver

Inspector - Cherokee

Zeljko "Zel" Jagatic

Inspector - Murphy

Brian Motola 

Inspector - Cherokee

Frank Miller

Inspector - Murphy

Our employees are dedicated to the pursuit of the protection of Tribal Assets while insuring fairness and integrity throughout.

Dominick Hoyt

Inspector - Murphy

Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission

Visit

776 Casino Drive

PO Box 2189

Cherokee, NC 28719

Call

828-497-7556 - Main

828-497-8835 - Cherokee

828-422-5015 - Valley River

Fax: 828-497-0089 

Website Issues Contact:

bcarpenter@cherokeetgc.com

© 2019 by

Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission