Western Brown youth basketball camps a success Leto to represent Team USA in Australia Broncos hard at work in preparation for fall season Eastern approves bowling team Phyllis Ruth Lois A Manley Eddie L Carr Thomas L Carnahan Cameron Barkley Walter J McGee Gary J Graham George D Johnson Walter F Crawford Jr Charles E Meranda Jr Corbin testifies before Ohio Senate Five arrested in Hamersville drug bust Neil Diamond tribute band coming Hyde finds home at Midway Youngsters work to improve on hoop skills at Eastern basketball camps Sizer named All-District Honorable Mention Western Brown’s Barnes earns All-State, All-District honors Local players compete in SWOFCA Ron Woyan East/West All-Star Game 6th annual Ravye Williams Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament set for June 24 Clarence E Teal Rosie B Poe Monard C Boots James P Conrad James T Dinser Scott J Swearingen Eastern’s Farris earns award for top 2-point field percentage in Ohio Georgetown’s Seigla earns All-District honors OHSAA announces 2017 football regions and playoffs format Western Brown volleyball camps a success with over 100 in attendance Rigdon finishes high school running career with 10th place finish at state track and field championship meet Grace E Fite Women return to county jail as funds start to run low Georgetown Council takes action on vacant structures Veterans honored in Mt. Orab John McGee Timmy Burson Patricia A London Mary J Hall Kenneth R Behymer Western Brown’s Joe Sams commits to Marietta College WBHS to hold girls youth basketball camp Huseman signs with UC Clermont Day to continue baseball career on collegiate level at UC Clermont Western’s Pack signs with NKU WBHS to host youth boys basketball camp Eastern’s Rigdon, Hopkins are STATE BOUND James Ratliff Robert P Lesko Armstrong sentenced to twenty years on child porn possession charges Russellville hires new Village Clerk Russellville Council approves purchase of two ambulances FP School Board changes millage funding formula Thirteen charged by Brown Co. Grand Jury Local athletes advance to track and field regionals SBAAC awards baseball, softball, boys track and field First Team all-stars SHAC awards baseball all-stars Lady Broncos finish as SW District Div. II runner-up Lady Warriors cap off season as SE District Div. III runner-up Impressive post-season tourney run reaches end for Lady Rockets Rose M Crone Thousands visit Traveling Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall Strategies discussed to join Maysville/Mason County KY with Brown Co. communities for economic growth Road and bridge work planned in county Linda M Lawson Margaret G Newkirk Gregory R Dunn Sandra L Haitz Wesley A Cooper Everette F Donell Lady Broncos move to SW District Div. II finals Lady Rockets top Cincy Christian 22-1 to earn berth in district finals Lady Warriors head to SE District Div. III finals with win over Gallia SW District Track and Field Tourney action gets underway Russell E Conn Robert T Fisher Philip L Paeltz David Beals Gregory A Smith II William G Mullinnix Patricia Ogden Brittany Stykes remembered by friends and family 2018 county budget could be cut by up to ten percent Georgetown Police Chief updates council Over 40 vendors, crafters at 2017 Annual Craft Show Cropper’s time as GHS girls basketball coach expected to end after 21 years at the helm Barnes’ perfect game and big hits lead Lady Broncos to round one sectional win Broncos advance in sectional play with win over Mt. Healthy Kenny B Williams Stephen E Marcum Christopher J Lovett Brandon M Traylor Gaslight renovations set to begin Ripley students view mock crash at school ‘Angela’s Curbside Cuisine’ taking area by storm Fisher sentenced to 17 years for child porn possession Fundraiser for Russellville 200th Celebration May 6

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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