NEWELL – Wearing the obligatory construction helmets, Hancock County politicians and business leaders moved a little dirt and announced big hopes for the new location of Hancock County Chrysler on Thursday. Construction crews have been working at the former Newell Memorial Field site for more than a month, but Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony starts the countdown to an anticipated March 2016 opening. “When's the last time we had a $5 million investment in Hancock County? It's been a long time,” Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. Article Photos NEW DEALERSHIP ON THE WAY — Hancock County politicians and business leaders shovel dirt at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hancock County Chrysler dealership on Washington Street in Newell. From left are, Del. Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock; United Bank Market President Tony Gentile; Hancock County Commissioner Jeff Davis; Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller; BDC Assistant Director Marvin Six; BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford; P.J. Latsko; Hancock County Chrysler General Manager Rob Cellini; Tom Bice of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Hancock County Commissioner Joe Barnabei; Tim Crowley of Breisch & Crowley LLC; and Jason Costello of JD&E Contractors & Engineers. — Stephen Huba The ceremony also closed a chapter that started 30 months ago, in December 2012, when commissioners first bought the Newell property – and the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton – from the Hancock County school board for $400,000. A year later, commissioners sold the two stadium properties, and the Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station, to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle for $500,000 – with the stipulation that the county not collect until the properties are either sold or leased. In April 2014, the BDC announced the sale of the Newell Memorial Field site to an undisclosed buyer. That buyer turned out to be P.J. Latsko of Beaver County Chrysler, who said he wanted to open up a Chrysler dealership in Newell. For the past year, Hancock County Chrysler has occupied the former site of C. Hackett Chrysler at 400 Washington St. in Newell, awaiting the time when ground could be broken at 845 Washington St. – the dealership's new home on state Route 2. “We have been doing great at our current location due to community support, and we greatly appreciate everyone's business,” said Rob Cellini, general manager of Hancock County Chrysler. “I am excited to bring this state-of-the-art facility to the community of Newell.” BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford said the dealership represents a $5.27 million investment in Hancock County – $250,000 for the purchase price, $5 million for construction and $20,000 for “soft costs” such as legal fees, appraisals and environmental assessments. Once completed, the dealership will employ 40 people and generate an estimated payroll of $1.12 million, Ford said. “We're just creating business growth opportunities,” Swartzmiller said. “This was the commissioners' vision when we first purchased the property from the school board (in 2012).” The 23,000-square-foot facility will house 250 new and used cars and will include a new showroom, administrative offices, conference and training rooms, a drive-through service/drop-off area, complimentary car wash for customers, and a full service department. The latter will be equipped with heavy-duty truck lifts and alignment equipment. The new building also will have tinted storefront windows and an LED lighting system, as well as the latest Chrysler branding and design characteristics. Project design manager Tim Crowley, of Breisch & Crowley LLC, and project architect Jeremy Greenwood, of GreenCore Designs Inc., both of St. Clairsville, Ohio, collaborated with Cellini and and Latsko on the overall site design for the last seven months. “We are very excited to finally get this project in motion,” said Jason Costello, project manager for JD&E Contractors & Engineers, of Wheeling, the general contractor. Financing for the project is being handled by the Weirton office of United Bank.
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