Inmate housing options narrow Opiate addiction strains Municipal Court Lillian E Cowdrey Catherine A Houk Warriors win Jim Neu XC Invite Week 2 football roundup Broncos unbeaten at 4-0 Lady Broncos compete in Bob Schul XC Invite Ronnie L Day Nettie F Lightner Wallace sentenced to life in prison Court filing links Anderson and Sawyers Man killed in Fatal Crash on US 52 Henry E Fields Anleah W Stamper Maxine M Garrett U.S. 68 reopens Drought ends for Lady Rockets G-Men rise to 3-1 with back-to-back victories Rockets cruise to 4-0 win over Jays Lady Broncos start off SBAAC American Division play with 3-2 win over Goshen Week one football roundup Fair board president Orville Whalen passes away Wallace guilty, faces life in prison Zoning ordinance approved for Village of Sardinia Felicity man killed in boat crash Evelyn E Smith Peggy A Wiederhold Thomas P Neary Warriors kick off SHAC play Lady Broncos stand at 2-1 Late Devil goals lead to Lady Warrior loss David R Carrington Sr Crum arraigned on murder charge Sawyers faces new charge Aberdeen’s fiscal officer resigns 12th Annual Golf Tournament by Veterans Home Aug. 26 Betty G Schatzman Robert L McAfee Paul V Tolle Herbert D Smith Helen R Little Eugene M Press Lady Broncos out to defend league title SHAC holds volleyball preview Lady Warriors packed with experience, talent for 2017 fall soccer campaign Georgetown’s Sininger off to excellent start for 2017 golf season New response team for overdoses Drugged driving becoming a bigger problem Danny F Dickson Eva J Smith Michael R Stewart Sr Charles McRoberts III Marsha B Thigpen Michael L Chinn William A Coyne Jr Woman found dead in Ripley A girl’s life on the gridiron Rockets face G-Men in preseason scrimmage 13th annual Bronco 5K Run and Fitness Walk draws a crowd William C Latham Four charged in overdose death Underage felonies strain county system Fayetteville looks forward to 2018 celebration Russellville council discusses underground tanks in village Marilyn A Wren Larry E Carter Virginia L McQuitty Practices get underway for fall sports Jays soon to begin quest for SHAC title Western Brown to hold Meet the Teams Night and OHSAA parent meeting Aug. 8 Norville F Hardyman Carol J Tracy James Witt Hundreds of Narcan doses used in 2016 Heavy weekend rain causes flooding and damaged roads Child Focus hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Mary F McElroy Broncos out to defend SBAAC American Division soccer title Bronco 5K to take place Aug. 5 EHS volleyball team ready for new season Michael C Cooper Raymond Mays Harry E Smittle Jr Mary A Flaugher Western Brown’s Leto excels in Australia Rockets ready for 1st season in SBAAC Paddling, hiking activities available at Ohio State Parks SB Warriors get set to hit gridiron for 2nd year of varsity football Scotty W Johnson Glenna V Moertle Ricky L Hoffer Ruth E Ward David A Watson Janet L Dotson Vilvie S King Steven C Utter Cropper joins Fallis at Bethel-Tate Local kids find success in world of martial arts 13th annual Bronco 5K Run and Fitness Walk set for Aug. 5

Groundbreaking

MT. ORAB — The first mounds of dirt were moved on Thursday, August 27 as Brown County officials as well as Mark Williams and his family held a ceremonial groundbreaking on the site of a future automall.

More than 100 people were in attendance at the ceremony, including employees of Mt. Orab Ford and Beechmont Ford, the Brown County Commissioners, State Senator Joe Uecker, State Representative Doug Green, U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup, and Mt. Orab’s mayor Bruce Lunsford and members of the village council.

“We’re very excited,” Williams said following the ceremony. “We worked on this for two years. To bring two franchises, two really strong franchises with trucks on one piece of property is really exciting.”

Williams and the village of Mt. Orab’s plan is to build an automall that would be, in their words, an anchor of economic development. The automall will be located on a nearly 30-acre tract of land behind the Kroger in Mt. Orab, partially adjacent to State Route 32.

According to details from a report in the Cincinnati Business Courier, the first phase of the automall project involves two 18,000 square foot buildings to house a pair of Williams’ dealerships, Mt. Orab Ford and Peebles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

Williams confirmed that there are plans to build a restaurant and a hotel on the complex, though they won’t be built for the foreseeable future. Cincinnati United Contractors has signed on to do the construction, and President and CEO Charles Kubici confirmed that equipment would arrive on the site

Union Township’s Ken Geis served as the master of ceremonies, and before shoveling away dirt, Williams, Wenstrup, and Lunsford all gave speeches to the audience about how what was once just an idea became a possibility.

A seemingly innocuous drive back from Mt. Orab to his home in Cincinnati sold Williams on the idea of building an automall in Mt. Orab

“I leave and pull out of here at around 5:30 p.m. on a Friday night,” Williams said. “From here to Eastgate (on S.R. 32) it was headlight after headlight, after headlight. I thought, ‘man, we can make this happen’.”

During his speech, Lunsford explained how the automall idea almost never came to fruition.

In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, car companies were closing down dealerships, and according to Lunsford, Gerald Gabbard, the former owner of Mt. Orab Ford who was in attendance at the groundbreaking, was offered a buy-out himself.

“It would have been easy for Gerald to just take a check and get a rocking chair but he didn’t do that,” Lunsford said. “He didn’t want to let the business that his mother and father and he had worked so hard to get it at.

“Later, when he decided that he wanted to sell and slow down, he had people approach him about buying the dealership, but they all wanted to move it some place else. He wanted it to stay here and be part of the legacy of his family. He went out looking for someone that would take it and build it. He told me he was looking for someone with good business sense, someone with integrity and ethics, and someone with the drive to make it go.

“I’m very happy to say that Mark Williams is that person and I think Mark is all the things Gerald is looking for.”

Williams praised Lunsford, the Mt. Orab Port Authority, and the Brown County Commissioners for their support in overcoming the numerous obstacles and red tape that the project faced.

“We’ve worked with a lot of municipalities and local government agencies,” Williams said. “Bruce, there’s no one that we worked with that was more pro-business than you, and I sincerely thank you.”

Williams also explained how Gabbard had told him about the piece of land where the automall will be, and how Gabbard helped facilitate the process that took all the parties to Thursday’s groundbreaking. In honor of Gabbard and his family, Williams said the road leading into the automall would be named “Gabbard Way.”

Williams said that he plans on drawing customers from a 100-mile radius around Mt. Orab, bringing in visitors from Kentucky, central, western, and southern Ohio, and even as far as Indiana and West Virginia.

“I think it means a lot to Brown County,” Commissioner Tony Applegate said. “This is a great day. We’ve got a development here that Mark Williams is committed to that’s just going to grow and grow and create a lot of jobs and increase the tax base for the county. This is an anchor development that helps others see the development of the market so I think others will follow after this.”

Mark Williams, local, state, and U.S. officials, and members of the Mt. Orab Port Authority pose for a picture during a groundbreaking ceremony for a future automall in Mt. Orab.
http://newsdemocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WholeGroupGroundbreakingMtOrab1-DanielKarell-.jpgMark Williams, local, state, and U.S. officials, and members of the Mt. Orab Port Authority pose for a picture during a groundbreaking ceremony for a future automall in Mt. Orab. Daniel Karell | News Democrat

Mark Williams of the Mark Williams Auto Group speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of a future automall in Mt. Orab
http://newsdemocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_MarkWilliamsGroundbreakingMtOrab1-DanielKarell-.jpgMark Williams of the Mark Williams Auto Group speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of a future automall in Mt. Orab Daniel Karell | News Democrat

Mt. Orab Mayor Bruce Lunsford.
http://newsdemocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_BruceLunsfordGroundbreakingMtOrab1-DanielKarell-.jpgMt. Orab Mayor Bruce Lunsford. Daniel Karell | News Democrat
Mt. Orab, Mark Williams host automall ceremonial groundbreaking

By Daniel Karell

dkarell@civitasmedia.com

Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell

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