Bobby A Reed Harold L Barger Ralph M Gaither Stranded students rescued by Brown County cooperation 4-H Teen Ambassador Dunning attends SHOT Show Veterans Service Commission invites veterans to seek help with benefits Unemployment rate rises in Brown County Pick a Lollipop, help a dog A season to remember G-Men hit the field for first baseball scrimmage Eastern’s Rigdon, Purdy earn AP SE District Div. III honors New blocking, kicking rules address risk minimization in high school football Judy A Schneider James M Darnell Lawanda R Truesdell Paul E Grisham Arrelous R Rowland Dennis E Stivers David M Daniels Fayetteville man is charged with child porn April 1st Grand Opening for Jacob’s Ladder Resale Boutique in Georgetown Talent Show auditions at Gaslight Theatre Nine indicted by county grand jury Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall visit coming next May to BC Fairgrounds In it to win it! Bronco wrestlers end season on successful note Eastern’s Hopkins finishes 5th in long jump at OATCCC State Indoor Track and Field Meet SBAAC awards academic all-stars, winning teams Marvin D Atkin Beverly S Flatt Jessie M Sanders Leroy Deck Sr Jody A Towler Sherman E Young Kenneth C Burton Varnau’s face second defamation suit Attorney General to visit Georgetown schools Clermont County GOP hosts Wenstrup, DeWine at dinner Fatal car crash in Adams County BC Chamber welcomes new Cricket Wireless store to Mt. Orab Aberdeen Council approves 2017 budget Royce K Zimmerman Lady Warriors advance to Elite 8 SBAAC awards boys basketball all-stars SBAAC girls basketball all-stars take home awards SHAC Winter Sports Awards Banquet set for March 12 Altman claims 170-pound district title Sirkka L Buller Arthur C Schneider Lowell G Neal Virginia M Schirmer Connie S Darling Harold L Purdin Terry E Frye Lucille Schumacher Lady Warriors roll to district finals Broncos take care of business to claim sectional crown G-Men upset MVCA to earn berth sectional finals WBHS JROTC Rifle Team competes at Camp Perry Lady Rockets finish 12-12 Season reaches end for Rockets Eugene D Ring Two indicted on major drug charges Two charged with home invasion Cincinnati airport expanding services, lowering prices in effort to compete Two sentenced in common pleas court Georgetown man hurt in car crash Robert G Miller Linda M Howland Robert E McKinney Mildred J Hodges Farrel L Amiott Patricia Brown Rick L Dye Mary E Nagel Betty Ratliff Broncos claim SBAAC wrestling title Broncos pull ahead for win over G-Men in SBAAC Tourney Ripley boys wrap up regular season with win at Lynchburg Eastern girls are sectional champs Anderson pleads not guilty to battery charge Some county offices to change locations Fayetteville prepares for Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall HealthSource hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Five sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court June Howser Marguerite A Fender Timothy D Harris Jay R Purdy Robin S Godwin Marc A Wachter Chester W Eyre Warriors blast past the G-Men, 61-40 Rockets performing well heading into post-season tournament play Lady Warriors bring home the Gold with perfect 13-0 finish in SHAC Western Brown Junior High wrestling team wraps up successful season Rockets fall victim to ‘Pack’ attack Broncos suffer heartbreaking loss to Mentor Lake Catholic in state quarterfinals Adult Education Center coming to county ‘Senior Playground’ moving forward at Georgetown park

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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