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At long last, the ribbon is cut

By Tyler Buchanan, Vinton County Courier

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Washington, December 6, 2017 | comments
It rained the morning of Campbell’s Market’s groundbreaking earlier this year, with temperatures so cold officials had to bring in piles of dirt to use for a shoveling “photo op.”
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It rained the morning of Campbell’s Market’s groundbreaking earlier this year, with temperatures so cold officials had to bring in piles of dirt to use for a shoveling “photo op.”

The harvest which followed brought more than just produce to Vinton County. After years of hard work and collaboration, Monday’s Grand Opening ribbon was cut underneath a chilly, bright sky.

The food desert was pronounced over. After a long and winding road, here came the sun.

Held weeks after the store’s “soft opening” in late October, the grand opening featured a “Who’s Who” in local and regional politics. To include all who contributed to the store’s success would fill each aisle with not much room left for groceries. Still, most of the main players were there — State Sen. Bob Peterson, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, the three Vinton County Commissioners, Development Director Terri Fetherolf, members of the Campbell family, Manager Gary Saunders and Diana Turoff, CEO of the Finance Fund which helped finance the store.

Perhaps the most significant figure in the food desert saga, State Rep. Ryan Smith, was absent with a scheduling conflict, though an aide told those gathered this was the project for which Smith was most proud.

Co-owner Beth Campbell, whose family owns two other stores in the Zanesville area, said she was happy the McArthur business hired 34 “wonderful” employees. She recognized those who made the store possible, including supporters of the Healthy Food For Ohio program. This initiative was included in a 2015 budget in large part thanks to Smith (R-Bidwell), who serves on the House Finance Committee. The Campbell family eventually accepted a package worth around $1.6 million in funding from a variety of sources.

In his speech, Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) said the grocery store marked the first culmination of that Healthy Food For Ohio program. Stivers gave thanks to his fellow legislators and to the effort of local citizens. With the food desert issue solved, he said his next major focus for southeast Ohio is to bridge the “digital divide” — ensuring there is Internet access for residents throughout the region.

“Do me a favor and buy something,” Stivers joked to everyone, pointing inside. The congressman took his own advice: he bought some bananas, grapes and a bottled Starbucks frappuccino.

Peterson (R-Washington Court House) made note of the many long-term benefits of having a grocery store, including improved health and bringing jobs to town. He concluded by saying this was “not an easy project,” but well worth the commitment from those who made an impact.

Several aides were on hand representing other officials, including those for Gov. John Kasich, Treasurer Josh Mandel and State Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction).

Tim Eberts spoke for his fellow county commissioners as the only member still serving since the McArthur SuperValu store closed in August of 2013. Later during their weekly meeting at the Vinton County Courthouse, Commissioners Jim Satory and Mark Fout recognized two previous commissioners, Michael Bledsoe and Jerry Zinn, who had worked for years to secure a new store.

Former State Rep. Debbie Phillips, who represented part of Vinton County from 2009 to 2016, was on hand to visit the new store. She complimented the work of Rep. Smith at the statehouse, as he “was always willing to work across the aisle” on projects like the Healthy Food For Ohio initiative.

In related news, Emmett Conway announced Monday the adjacent Cherry Hill Lane is now open. The new road offers another entrance to the store’s parking lot and will eventually connect to the new Rio Grande McArthur Center.

Conway had reportedly offered a land purchasing agreement to the Campbells as part of the overall financial package. He told The Courier he intends to deed the road to the village of McArthur sometime this winter.

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