Neighbors happy with Dollar General

BEAN BLOSSOM — Outside the new Dollar General store in Bean Blossom, the feeling among customers is consistent: The new store is convenient, but the old McDonald family’s Shopworth grocery store is missed.

Tia Russell lives about two miles from the new Dollar General, which opened Feb. 12. She had stopped by March 13 to buy chicken and soup for dinner.

“All my life I knew the people that had the store. They were just super people,” Russell said of the McDonald family. “It was sad to see the store close. … But I’m glad this is here.”

Russell has visited the Dollar General about six times. She calls the location “the perfect place.”

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“It’s at a point where traveling to Martinsville, Columbus or Franklin, there’s somewhere in between other than the IGA store in Morgantown. Prices are a little better,” she said.

Her favorite part? “We love Dean’s milk. If they quit having Dean’s milk, I don’t know, I might quit coming,” she said with a laugh.

Hershel Wilkerson lives a couple of miles north of Dollar General. He decided to visit the store because he needed a clock. This was his second time there.

“It’s just good to have a store close to home. The old McDonald’s IGA, I hated to see that go, but it went,” he said.

The former IGA, run by Jack McDonald and family, closed in 2014 after more than 125 years of business. Another owner later took over the store, but it, too, closed about a year ago.

Bill Klepper lives in the nearby trailer court. He has visited the Dollar General six times for bread, milk, canned goods and potato chips. He said his neighbors appreciate having it, too.

“It’s easier to come here to get a loaf of bread than it is to go all the way to Nashville and Morgantown,” he said.

“Brown County, they say there’s a lot of rich people here, but there’s also a lot of poor people,” he said. “It’s just a big convenience for everybody around here.”

“We just miss it being Jack’s,” said Klupper’s son, Jon, about McDonald’s Shopworth owner Jack McDonald.

“Forever, people are going to call this place Jack’s.”

Shops open on north end of town

On March 18, three new business cut their ribbons and joined the retail community in Nashville, and another will join them in April under the same roof.

Robb Besosa bought the building on North Van Buren Street that sits just downhill of the Brown County History Center’s Pioneer Village last year.

Besosa bought the entire property — four shop spaces and a house — and has rented three of the shop spaces.

At Home With Heartland is in the northernmost space, selling interior decorations.

“I call it a Pinterest shop. It really looks like the stuff on Pinterest,” Besosa said.

Next door to At Home With Heartland is Home On A Limb. Home On A Limb will sell birdhouses, walking sticks, bird feeders and handmade candles.

In April, Altruistic Beauty and Barbering Concepts will fill the space next to Besosa’s working wood shop, Hoosier Barn and Table.

One stipulation of renting from Besosa was that the shop owners had to make all of the products they are selling. At Home With Heartland makes 50 percent of their products and Home On A Limb makes everything they sell, Besosa said.

“I have great, great renters who are excited about their shops. They want to do a good job,” he said.

Besosa has made substantial improvements to the building, including painting the whole thing, correcting electrical problems, installing new flooring, putting new floor joists under the north end, building a new front porch and hauling off two to three dumpsters’ worth of demolition trash.

On the weekends, the Besosa family will be dressed in period clothing from the 1930s and will share Brown County history with visitors.

Their plan is to use tools from the ’20s and ’30s to finish furniture projects they will build at their home workshop, and allow visitors to watch them work.

The shops will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all week, but the hope is to stay open later on the weekends.

“I heard a lot of comments that people have no place to go after dinner, and with Big Woods being right there, we’re hoping to stay open and play music,” Besosa said.

Car wash plan is to open in May

If the weather permits, Brown County Car Wash will be open just in time for locals to get out and scrub their cars to shine in the summer sun.

Lana Williams, one of the three co-owners of the car wash and dog wash being built at the end of Hawthorne Drive, said they plan to have it open by May 1.

“We’re progressing well. The weather held us up a little bit with it being so wet,” Williams said.

She said last week that the goal was to get the roof finished and cedar timber installed on the front of the building. Brown County stone will also be used.

“Aesthetically, it’s going to be more industrial, lodge-looking style. It will blend in nicely with the area,” she said.

Electrical work has been completed. Last week, interior concrete work began. Exterior concrete still needs to be poured in the drive, Williams said.

The car wash will include one automatic bay and three self-serve bays. Two areas for vacuuming will be available in the front and in the back. A detail area will also be available, Williams said.

She said the pricing will be comparable to other car washes in the area. The automatic bay will have levels ranging from $8 to $15 depending on the service.

A dog wash station will be inside.

“We’re making progress, it’s just taking longer than we anticipated,” Williams said.

Hydroponic farm gets zoning clearance

The owners of a new hydroponic farm near Fruitdale now have the land zoning they need to carry out their plans — though they still need a special exception to open a commercial greenhouse.

The special exception is to go before the Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals at the end of this month.

Hydroponic farming uses water instead of soil to carry nutrients to plants.

Hydro Harvest LLC plans to grow strawberries initially but could expand to other crops, the business proposal by co-owner Neil Perry says.

Perry said this would be the first and only commercial strawberry farm in the state. He said they have a contract in the works with Naturipe, the second-largest berry grower in the country, to sell their strawberries in local grocery stores.

The owners bought 4.75 acres at 6092 State Road 135 North which currently contains a dilapidated home and a garage. Perry said they might put an office in the house, but for now, they are focused on getting ready for the growing season.

The zoning change from R1 to R2 passed the Brown County Area Plan Commission unanimously Feb. 28 and the Brown County Commissioners the next morning.

Perry said he appreciated the efficiency.

“Government should move at the speed of business when we can,” said county commissioner Jerry Pittman.

Town approves three liquor license renewals

Three Nashville restaurants will be able to continue serving beer, wine and liquor through a special license for another year.

The Nashville Redevelopment Commission renewed riverfront district “three-way” alcohol permits for Big Woods Pizza, Big Woods Brewing Co. and the Pine Room Tavern on March 7.

Riverfront district permits allow for more three-way liquor licenses than a community would ordinarily have access to by population.

The redevelopment commission created the riverfront district — which spans most of Nashville because of its proximity to waterways — in 2013, and started offering licenses in 2014.

Five licenses is the limit the commission set, though they could set it at any number, consultant Ed Curtin said.

No riverfront district permit can be granted if the establishment is 200 feet from a church or school.

The commission decided that it wanted to promote “family-friendly” businesses, so license holders are supposed to do more than half of their sales through food, not alcohol — at least $150,000 of gross income from food.

They are also asked “how the restaurant focuses on a dining and entertainment experience rather than an alcohol consumption experience,” about the number and nature of jobs added or retained, plans for improvement, and how much control and participation the owners have in the day-to-day operation of the business.

The application for combined restaurant entity The Pine Room/Muddy Boots said that creating a riverfront district and offering these licenses “has been a very positive step in increasing jobs and revenue in Brown County.” The business employs between 25 and 35 people.

Co-owner Betsy Oblack said the restaurant may be listed for sale because she and her husband would like to have more flexibility to visit grandchildren.

But she has made clear to interested buyers that the riverfront district liquor license would not go with the property; each license is granted only to the current owner and at the current location.

A new owner could apply for different kind of liquor license if one were available and affordable, or go back to the redevelopment commission with a new riverfront application, Curtin said.

Two-thirds of Big Woods Brewing Co.’s sales come from food, its license application says. Co-owner Tim O’Bryan said each of the two Big Woods restaurants easily sells more than $150,000 in food annually.

About 30 people steadily work at the original Big Woods restaurant and Big Woods Pizza employs “well over 75,” the applications say.

Curtin said Big Woods as a whole entity has become one of the largest private employers in town, and he believes that to be a direct result of the riverfront license. O’Bryan nodded to that comment.