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Business Pulse
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It was about a month ago when I talked about the growing trend of ordinary citizens putting on costumes and pretending to be superheroes. This trend seems to be growing at an alarming rate.
Just last week, a home in Milton, W.Va., caught fire and two nearby superheroes rushed to the rescue. John Buckland, dressed as Batman, and Troy Marcum, dressed as Captain America, saw smoke pouring from the home and sprung into action. They kicked in a door and rushed into the burning home to save a cat.
Batman, I mean Buckland, said he was crawling through the home on his hands and knees when he found the cat. According to the Associated Press, Buckland even gave the cat mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after carrying it outside to safety.
I have some real concerns about this story, the biggest one being how our two upstanding citizens happened to be wearing superhero costumes at the time of the fire. Did they see the fire, rush to change into their costumes, then come to the rescue?
If so, someone needs to explain that a Batman costumes carries with it no real powers. I realize a superhero costume probably adds to the desired effect, but taking the time to go home and change is a huge waste of time in the face of an actual emergency.
In other breaking news, a big story coming from Minnesota was the annual Housekeeping Olympics, which took place last Monday. The annual competition features top maids of the region as they “fold for the gold” so to speak.
Maids from area hotels and motels are eligible to participate. The competition includes events such as folding linen, stacking laundry and making beds.
The most popular event is the grand finale where competitors have to navigate a maze that includes stops to scrub toilets and shower stalls and then race to the finish line. Local officials looking to promote tourism might consider such a competition for Warren County.

Billy’s Restaurant
may be sold

Word on the street is Billy’s Restaurant owner Billy Foutch is ready to retire and is in the process of selling his popular restaurant in Newtown. This is the rumor that was sweeping McMinnville last week.
According to the speculation, Billy has already received some earnest money and the change in ownership is expected to take place Oct. 1. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing.
Since I like to go straight to the source, I gave Billy a call and asked him if he was selling his restaurant.
“I don’t know just yet,” Billy said.
I asked him several different ways in hopes of getting a little more clarification, but Billy wouldn’t tip his hand.
If you recall, it was around five years ago when Billy closed his restaurant and said he was ready to retire. After a few months he discovered retirement didn’t suit him and he opened an even bigger restaurant.
The difference now is Billy is in his 70s and I hear he’s ready for a well-deserved break. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this story plays out in the coming weeks.

Burke to remain
industrial recruiter

At the monthly Industrial Development Board meeting on Thursday, interim director George Burke expressed his desire to stay on the job on a permanent basis.
“It makes me a little insecure the board is still taking applications for this job,” said Burke.
Industrial Development Board chairman Joe Pugh said he didn’t realize Burke wanted the job on a permanent basis. Pugh thought Burke had only committed to stay until December.
“If the board accepts it, I’d like to stay here till I’m 75,” said Burke, who will turn 75 in July 2015.
Pugh seemed delighted at this news and the board voted unanimously to accept this action and to halt its search for a new industrial recruiter.
In talking to George last Friday, he told me he will continue to fulfill all his duties as industrial recruiter, although he likely won’t be in the office five days a week.
“At my age, the daily grind of working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some days taking it home with me, is a bit much,” said George. “But with the new staff we’ve got, I won’t need to be here as much.”
George was referring to the recent hiring of receptionist Ashley Laird. She is on hand to answer the phone and handle office duties.
Adding Ashley to the staff has allowed Terah McBride to move into a more active role in talking with industry representatives and local business owners. George said adding the extra person to the staff is possible because he has agreed to work for much less money than the previous industrial recruiter.
I think George is doing a great job and creating much positive buzz about Warren County. We’ve already landed one company since he came on board in May and I suspect there will be more announcements to come.

Speaking of

During the IDB meeting, George provided a quick update about Spec Building 3, which has been constructed in Mt. View Industrial Park in Morrison.
“It’s nearing completion,” said George. “They’re doing yard work and road work now and basically finishing up. Hopefully we have some things working on Spec Building 3 where it won’t be on the market long. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
I’ve found it’s always a promising sign in industrial development when people choose to say very little. At the beginning of the year I predicted a tenant for Spec Building 3 would be found in 2013 and I’m sticking with that prediction.

MPC plans
office complex

Folks are probably tired of hearing me write about Miniature Precision Components, but this company is turning out to be an absolute gold mine for Warren County.
Since it began local production in January 2012, Miniature Precision Components has expanded once and leased additional space at the old Carrier building. According to Burke, the company now says it plans on building a major office complex in Warren County.
“They want to build a $1 million office complex and it will be a major office facility,” Burke told members of the Industrial Development Board. “As far as I understand, they will finance this project themselves and this is something they are poised to do shortly.”
George said this is speculation on his part, but he believes MPC will be interested in expanding again once its current expansion project is complete.
MPC currently operates five production lines in Morrison and has a workforce of just over 40 employees. Plans are to increase to 12 lines once the current expansion is complete and double the workforce.

Future is bright
for solar company

Lee Taylor has worked setting up solar farms all over Warren County as an employee for other companies. With his knowledge and experience, Lee has decided to venture out on his own and start Sun Money Solar.
Lee recently completed his company’s first solar installation project on Tom Grissom Road. It’s a 14-unit solar farm on the property of Mike and Bonnie Cruz.
“We did all this from the ground up,” said Lee, indicating the project took seven weeks from start to finish. “After you install 112 of these, you know what you’re doing.”
Solar farms are gaining popularity as many landowners see it as a smart investment. There is the upfront cost of installing the solar panels, but the power that’s generated is sold back to TVA.
As the property owner, Bonnie said she is well pleased with the finished product.
“We’ve gotten three checks from TVA so far,” she said. “It’s projected to pay for itself in seven to 10 years.”
Bonnie said she and her husband received one estimate as high as $300,000 for the project, but Sun Money Solar was able to finish it for $102,000.
“I just want people who are considering solar projects to know I will be cheaper than anyone else,” said Lee. “I’m young, I’m hungry and I don’t have a big company to support above me. I can save you a lot of money.”
Lee said he’s willing to work with property owners and direct them toward the best equipment to buy. This can be single or double-axis trackers that follow the sun as it moves across the sky to capture the maximum amount of energy.
“He knew everything we needed,” said Bonnie. “It’s been a great project. I can’t tell you the number of people who have stopped as they’ve been driving down the road.”
Lee says he can install any sort of solar-related item such as solar lights for porches and solar well pumps.
“If you can find a solar kit for it, I can come out and install it,” said Lee.
If Lee looks familiar, it might be from his blueberries he sells at the Farmers Market. They are delicious.
To find out about current local, state and federal solar incentives, you can visit The website provides information about how long each program will last.
To get in touch with Sun Money Solar, call 607-6364.

Old Gondola
to go Mexican

Renovation work has been taking place for about a month at the old Gondola restaurant at Plaza Shopping Center. When I stopped by Friday to see what was happening, I was greeted by none other than Teo Diaz, who you may remember as the owner of El Coyote.
El Coyote had great food, but it was stuck in an undesirable location that Teo said was hard to overcome.
“We had a lot of problems with the building that were not fixed so we figured it would be best to move,” said Teo.
When people eat at a restaurant, they want it to be clean and the El Coyote building didn’t exactly have a clean feel to it. But that’s not the case at the old Gondola restaurant. There are nice tables and chairs, new paint, and a much cleaner environment.
There’s also a new name. It will be called Mariachis, which, roughly translated, is a group musicians who play a brand of folk music popular in Mexico. Teo says there will be a mariachi band playing on some Friday nights and he’s proud of the margarita bar he’s having installed.
“We want this to be a different type of menu,” said Teo.
After several openings and closings in recent months, I believe our Mexican restaurant count will be at six when Mariachis opens its doors. Teo says he plans to open in October.

That’s all folks

I hope this week’s business column was up to the high standards I aim to achieve. If you have business news you’d like to report, the phone number is 473-2191.