Rita Tarvin Rocket win streak reaches five G-Men ascend to 4-0 in SBAAC National Division with win at Williamsburg Jays soar to 3-1 with win at North Adams Young Lady Jays improving as season progresses Mary J Yockey Callie J Maynard Windle Blanton Daisy D Nevels RULH HS students visit Jungle Jims Aberdeen Council has busy end of the year River Village Christmas celebration begins SR 41 now open Gast’s three-point shower drowns the Tigers Lady Rockets capture wins over Ripley, Batavia Keplinger signs with Shawnee State Warriors down the Devils, fall to the Greyhounds Broncos edge out Williamsburg, 53-50 Carol S Newman John E Short RULH Elementary names ‘Go Green’ Students RE/MAX Local Experts opens in Williamsburg RULH wraps up ‘No Shave November’ fundraiser Eleven indicted by Brown County Grand Jury Donald C Vance John C Morris Rebecca E Simpson Hot start sets pace for Broncos’ 85-40 win over CNE G-Men get off to 1-1 start Lady Rockets start off season with tough string of road games Basketball Special: 2017-18 Katherine J Wolfe Virginia J Germann Rev Commadora Manning Mona K Kirker Ohio Rural Heritage Association donates to Food Pantry RULH FCCLA attends meeting in D.C. RULH MS students try ‘Tabletop Twitter’ Ripley Village Christmas update Bonita Planck Carol J Wagner Christopher O Richey Sr Five new members to enter WBHS Athletic Hall of Fame Blue Jays ready to soar under Woodward Fischer named to OPSWA All-Ohio First Team of football all-stars High school girls’ hoop action kicks off in Brown County Formation of new joint Fire & EMS District discussed RULH students learn about ‘Global Food’ Personal financial management class at RULH High School Dale G Ferriel John E Slack Nicholas A Arthur Bonnie J Roush Charles E Faul Phyllis A Mills Carl L Watson Marc W Bolce Robert R Moore Robert K King June R Williams William T Ishmael Sr Deborah J Napier High school hoop action begins Fayetteville SAY Girls Wing Soccer Team finishes season among state’s Final Four Devils visit Georgetown for OHSAA Foundation Games Grandfather charged in boy’s death ‘Real Money’ at RULH Middle School Ripley High School celebrates Veterans Day Reward increases for information leading to conviction in Stykes’ murder Ripley Village Christmas update Kenneth M McKinley Vilvens signs with Mount St. Joseph SBAAC awards girls tennis all-stars Layman inducted into Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame SBAAC hands out awards to First Team girls’ soccer all-stars John D Marks Aberdeen Police Department receives ‘Shop With a Cop’ donation Benefit to take place Nov. 17 for Grace Copple St. Michael students take part in Community Soup Supper Voters return Worley to the bench Ruby A Ratliff Donna J Moore Stella M Glasscock Ellen L Gelter Alverda T Guillermin Justin N Beach EHS dedicates ‘Kiser Court’ SBAAC awards First Team football all-stars, winning teams Sizer earns SBAAC American Division Volleyball Player of Year honors for 3rd straight year Broncos to host Blue Jays for OHSAA ‘Jimmy Young’ Foundation Game, Nov. 17 Vern W Kidd Jr Brown County Election Results – 2017 Michael D Hines Raymond W Napier Leslie E Boyle Gary L Barber RULH NHS welcomes new inductees K-9 Units and handlers visit RULH High School EMS members honored for service Road work on Ripley streets to begin

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://ripleybee.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://ripleybee.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://ripleybee.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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