Hancock County Chrysler dealership opening Monday

NEWELL – People are so happy that another car dealership is opening in Newell, they've been giving Rob Cellini hugs. Cellini, general manager of the new Hancock County Chrysler, described such an experience at a local bank when two women learned who he was and what he was doing in town. “People have been very receptive,” he said. Article Photos OPENING — Hancock County Chrysler General Manager Rob Cellini, seated, and Sales Manager Sean Broadbent are preparing for Monday’s opening of the Newell car dealership. — Stephen Huba   The dealership, whose full name is Hancock County Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, is opening on Monday after eight months of behind-the-scenes preparations by P.J. Latsko of Beaver County Chrysler. The Pennsylvania dealership's interest in the former C. Hackett Chrysler site has been an open secret in Newell for months. Cellini and other Beaver County Chrysler officials have ridden in several area parades this summer, with HancockCountyAuto.com and a phone number emblazoned on the sides of their vehicles. But it was not until July 15, when the Newell site received its franchise number from Chrysler, that Cellini was free to talk about the dealership's plans. “This is a big investment in the community,” he said, “so we're depending on the community to be behind us.” Hancock County Chrysler's opening at 400 Washington St. is in anticipation of it eventually building and moving to a state-of-the-art facility on the old Newell Memorial Field site, Cellini said. Hancock County commissioners announced the sale of the 3.7-acre site in April but did not give details because of a nondisclosure agreement between Latsko and the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, the owner of the property. The BDC bought Newell Memorial Field – and two other pieces of property – from county commissioners in December 2013 for a stipulated $500,000, although the county will not receive the purchase price until any or all the properties are sold. Cellini said the decision to buy the football stadium property, once owned by Hancock County Schools, went a long way toward convincing Chrysler to give the Beaver County businessmen a chance in Hancock County. “We bought it in advance to persuade Chrysler to let us open the (Newell) point up,” Cellini said. “They really were close to closing this place.” The dealership's status had been in limbo ever since Hackett filed for bankruptcy in August 2013. The estate of Basil Mangano, former owner of the Newell Central Service car dealership, bought back the Washington Street property in a sale in May and has been leasing it to Latsko, according to Hancock County Clerk's Office records. Latsko decided to buy the Memorial Field site in January and brought in Chrysler officials from Detroit to look at the property while there was still snow on the ground, Cellini said. Chrysler's decision to keep the dealership open was based in large part on Latsko's track record in Beaver Falls and the promise of having a new facility in Newell, Cellini said. “They love the way we run our store up there,” he said. “They really went to bat with Chrysler to keep this point open,” Sales Manager Sean Broadbent said. “They know it's pretty important to the community.” Broadbent previously was general manager for Hackett, as well as a longtime staffer with Newell Central Service. In April, Latsko put a 10 percent deposit on the Memorial Field property, prompting the BDC to take it off the market, said BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford. “We were confident that they were going to close the deal. It was just going to be a matter of time,” Ford said. A closing date on the sale, estimated to be $250,000, has not yet been scheduled, he said. Ford said the BDC and county commissioners worked with Latsko to ensure that he could obtain the former Hackett dealership, despite the bankruptcy proceedings, and purchase the football stadium property at the same time. Both actions were necessary for a successful deal, he said. “There are a lot of people who had to be very cooperative to make this work,” he said, noting that the help of the Mangano estate also was important. Ford said the sale is a harbinger of good things to come for Newell and Hancock County. “We've always felt that Hancock County in general, and Newell in particular, needed a cataly