Stadium site to be home to Hancock Chrysler

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County officials expect to break ground in January for a new Chrysler dealership on land that's mostly remembered for its high school football games. A site plan developed by Jarvis, Downing & Emch Contractors & Engineers, of Wheeling, shows a gleaming, state-of-the-art Chrysler showroom on the old 50-yard-line of Newell Memorial Field. The 3.7-acre piece of property in the heart of Newell was one of three that Hancock County commissioners deeded to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle for $500,000 in December 2013. They did so with the stipulation that they would retain a security interest in the properties and not see the money until the properties were sold. Article Photos CHECK TO COUNTY — BDC Executive Committee member John Frankovitch presents a “check” for $250,000 to Hancock County commissioners on Thursday. The money is from the sale of Newell Memorial Field to Hancock County Chrysler. — Stephen Huba
        On Thursday, commissioners got a check for $250,000 from the BDC – the price of the sale of Newell Memorial Field to Hancock County Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram. “I wish the commissioners could take all the credit for this news, but we cannot,” said Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller, who thanked the BDC for marketing the property and negotiating the deal. “It's their hard work and expertise that has guided us,” he said. BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford returned the praise. “What you have done is move our county from economic development to economic growth,” Ford said. “Economic development is just shifting money around. With economic growth, your inventory attracts private investment, and that private investment attracts jobs.” Hancock County Chrysler, affiliated with Beaver County Chrysler owner P.J. Latsko, opened in Newell at the former C. Hackett Chrysler site in July. Chrysler's decision to occupy the old Hackett dealership was contingent on the construction of a new dealership on the football field site, which commissioners bought from Hancock County Schools in December 2012. “I think we did the right thing,” Commissioner Jeff Davis said. “I'm willing to do it again.” Thursday's check presentation was the second such presentation in as many weeks. Last week, commissioners accepted a check for $115,000 from the BDC for a lease deal that will transform the old Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station into a Domino's Pizza. Commissioners deeded the football field, the fire station and the old Jimmy Carey Stadium to the BDC a year ago in the hopes that the BDC, the recognized economic development authority for Hancock and Brooke counties, would bring jobs to the area. Ford told commissioners on Thursday that the sale of Newell Memorial Field will result in an investment of $4.27 million in Hancock County – the BDC's contribution to commissioners ($250,000), Chrysler's improvements to the site ($4 million), and the BDC's legal fees and other “soft” costs ($20,000). As a result of the new building, Hancock County Chrysler will grow from 12 employees to 40 employees, Ford said. What's more, its annual payroll will grow from $336,000 to $1.12 million, he said. Hancock County Chrysler hopes to occupy the new building sometime in the late summer of 2015, Ford said. Swartzmiller characterized commissioners' purchase and sale of the football field as a chance worth taking, comparing it to Jack's purchase of the “magic beans” in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. “There were naysayers out there. People rolled their eyes,” he said. “But that $400,000 (spent on the stadiums) has been turned into millions.” Also Thursday, commissioners: Approved a one-time salary adjustment for employees of the Hancock County Courthouse. Full-time employees will receive $500, and part-time employees will receive $250 – for a total expenditure of about $70,000. Learned that there were five valid bids