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Near-Century Old Business Explores Move Out of St. C

May 29, 2011
Al Molnar , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A business that has flourished in St. Clairsville for almost a century may be moving out of the city just about the time the firm is celebrating its 95th year of doing business in the county seat.

Robert Thomas, vice president of Thomas Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, confirmed that the auto agency is exploring the possibility of moving its dealership out of the city to a location adjacent to the Ohio Valley Mall complex that had been occupied until recently by Roomful Express Furniture.

"We have been checking out the site for a couple of months now," Thomas said, adding that company officials have been talking to officials of the Pittsburgh firm that owns the 4.08-acre site at 67791 Mall Road.

"Nothing is definite yet," Thomas said about purchasing the building but added that negotiations have been progressing toward actually acquiring the building in the next few months. "There are some issues with the building that have to be resolved before the deal is final." He admitted that his company has locked in their interest in the purchase so that it cannot be sold otherwise.

Thomas pointed out the trend in recent years has been for car dealerships to secure locations outside of city limits - as with his business which is literally squeezed for space at its site along busy National Road.

If, and Thomas emphasized the "if," the sale is consummated, the actual occupancy will not take place until sometime next year. "We're in our 94th year of operating in St. Clairsville. We'll soon be planning our 95th year anniversary and if the purchase goes through, we'll be doing it about the time we're relocating."

Again he noted that if the purchase becomes final it will probably be sometime next year before the move will take place. "There's a lot of work that has to be done to transform a furniture store into a car dealership," Thomas chuckled. "That will take some time."

The Thomas agency currently has a total of 25 employees but Thomas indicated that if and when the move out of St. Clairsville is accomplished, there would be a sizeable incease in the employee staff.

According to county records, the building is owned by Soaring Eagle Partners and had been leased to the furniture store which went out of business earlier this year. The Pittsburgh firm acquired the property in 1999.

Take time Monday from the many activities being held on the date marking the unofficial start of summer to attend Memorial Day services being held to remember loved ones. One such service is being held at the Union Cemetery in St. Clairsville under the sponsorship of American Legion Post 159 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5356.

The 10:30 a.m. service will have Tom Dziakowicz, former commander of Post 159, as the guest speaker. "The public is welcome to help us pay honors to the many men and women who served our country and are no longer with us," commander Bob Farmer noted.

The St. Clairsville High School band will provide music. Prior to the service, members of both organizations will be in cemeteries to place flags on the veterans' graves.

A four-day trip to Dallas, Texas, last weekend primarily to attend the wedding of my grandson Jeffrey Molnar, who recently returned from two tours of duty in Afghanistan, proved to be a fabulous venture for the first three days and 20 hours.

All the happy memories were suddenly replaced by a nerve-wracking, frustrating four hours of battling Mother Nature and her tornadoes that have wreaked death and destruction over widespread areas of the country. And it extended our stay in Dallas one extra day and we had to make do with the clothes we were wearing because our luggage had already been checked through.

On leaving our hotel Monday afternoon and arriving at the massive Dallas-Fort Worth airport, our first move was to relinquish our rental car. Next we checked through one suitcase, then sought an area to relax for one hour to await our American Airlines flight to Columbus.

Then came the first jolt. Our flight was canceled due to the weather

Standing in a line that seemed to be a half mile long, we negotiated a flight to Dayton after my son, Bryan agreed to drive from his Gahanna home to Dayton so that I could return to Columbus to retrieve my car. Minutes later that flight was canceled. Same reason. In the meantime, the airline came up with a flight that would take us from Dallas to Little Rock, to Chicago and then to Dayton. That produced more X-rated language from me. My eldest son, Dave, who lives in Columbus and who had two earlier flights canceled, had seats for him and his wife on a flight on Tuesday.

With my son, Jeff, who lives and works in Dallas, manning a cellphone for what seemed hours, he finally arranged to get three "unassigned" seats for my wife, daughter and me. We'd learn our seat numbers just before the flight departed.

We had to stay another night. But where? And without our luggage. Jeff came to the rescue. He had a complimentary room in the Hyatt that we had just left. So the extra night in Dallas was a freebie and there was no complaint from me about that.

As I boarded the plane early Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to ask the pilot what was going on with American Airlines canceling so many flights. He said 21 of the airline's planes had to be re-inspected because of damage from being battered by hail. Our seats, by the way, were as far back in the plane as one could go. At least we had seats even though we did not have on a change of clothes from the previous day.

While many gardeners and green thumb novices have not as yet inserted tomato plants in their garden plots - including yours truly - William "Red" Doleski of Lansing is basking in his usual role of being the first or at least one of the first to produce a red tomato from his garden.

This year his boasts were a bit broader than his usual claim. Instead of picking just one ripe tomato, his garden produced four of them. That was on Tuesday. Two days later on Thursday, he had picked five more ripe ones. His wife, Ann, chimed in that a couple of them were almost too ripe.

All that happened even though the plot of ground across from his home on Lorain Avenue where he usually makes his garden was "too wet and too muddy" to do any planting. "So I put some of the plants in the ground behind my carport in the backyard." he exclaimed.

Maybe that was the reason the plants produced so quickly. Gardening has always been his main summer activity. He's been doing it for 80 of his 93 years.

Area residents will have an opportunity next weekend to harken back to the pioneer era when the horse and buggy were the main forms of travel over muddy, narrow and treacherous roads. A more modern National Road Wagon Train sponsored by the Belmont County Tourism Council will wind through the county on a two-day journey over much smoother roads. The trip starts in St. Clairsville at 10 a.m. Saturday and ends at the Arrowhead Motel on National Road west of Morristown on Sunday afternoon.

Dick Gummere will assume his role as the trainmaster, an exercise he has performed for many years along with his wife, Patty. The wagon train will form at the Adam Elizeus home on Country Club Road in St. Clairsville and head west for a short distance on historic National Road before turning off onto state and county roads to Bannock, the Cumberland Pointe Care Center and out to the Belmont County Saddle Club where the Saturday journey will end.

A pot luck supper with participants providing a covered dish will be held at the club and an entertainment program and overnight encampment will follow. Sunday's route for the train includes Barkcamp State Park, Ohio 149 and Morristown.

Al Molnar can be reached via email at:

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