Attendance was small, but ideas and plans were in abundance Sept. 6 as about 15 members of the West Jefferson Business Council met at the Hurt-Battelle Memorial Library in West Jefferson to discuss future needs and goals of the village’s business community.
Sean Hughes, executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, set the tone for the meeting by stating West Jefferson is one of three locations being considered by an unnamed business that, if located to West Jefferson, would become the largest employer to relocate to Ohio this year.
Hughes added the Chamber is also working on a few retail stores hoping to open in the village area as well as a hotel conference project that is expected to develop on the Route 29 corridor area of the village’s industrial park.
Joan Denes, one of West Jefferson’s representatives on the county chamber, said plans are still in the works to draw a large car show to West Jefferson in 2009 that is expected to surpass any car show the village has ever hosted before.
Hughes said "Kit Car" magazine is interested in hosting the car show and is willing to work with the village and Business Council. He said the "Kit Car" show would work in tandem with the successful Cobra Car show held annually in London.
"They are talking about holding the ("Kit Car") show either the week before the Cobra Car show or the week after,” Hughes said as he added that "Kit Car" magazine would also print a feature about the show in West Jefferson.
"It’s an opportunity to again put West Jefferson on the map nationally,” Hughes said.
The size of the "Kit Car" car show would be much larger than the downtown village area could accommodate and Hughes suggested the business council might investigate holding the show on the former Frey Elementary School grounds.
Jeff Pfeil suggested the school grounds could be incorporated with the attached Ox Roast land area and said that there is now electricity available to the Ox Roast grounds that would aid car show attendance.
Denes said she would get back to the business council’s committee on suggestions and hoped the committee would have an updated report by the council’s next meeting in October.
The rejuvenated Farmer’s Market, sponsored by the business council, is thriving at its new location in the parking lot of the former Cardinal Store on Main Street, said Ray Martin, a co-chairman of the business council’s project.
"It’s doing so well that we’ve been asked to extend the weeks the market will be open. The market will now be open through Oct. 11,” Martin said.
The farmer’s market, featuring locally and Ohio grown and made products, is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As a big draw to the market the week before it closes, a homemade fruit pie contest has been planned for Oct. 4. Local pie bakers will be allowed to bring their best nine inch, homemade fruit pies to the market at 11 a.m. for judging. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded. Prizes will include cash as well as a printed apron to winners commemorating the event. Entrants for the pie contest must complete an entry form prior to entering. Entry forms are available by calling Martin at (614) 560-5754 or Jerry Ramage, (614) 203-7850. Each participant in the pie contest will be required to bake three pies, one for the judges for judging and two to be sold off at the market. The baker of the pies will receive the money from the sale of the two pies not judged. Extra pieces from the pie cut for judging will be given out to the community free for tasting following the contest.
Darlene Steele brought up another idea to bring people to the downtown area by proposing an idea she said he had rolling around in her head for awhile.
"I’ve been thinking about a ‘Halloween at the Gazeboo’ would be fun for the village and work to bring people back downtown,” Steele said.
Her idea included asking adult volunteers to read Halloween related stories to children inside the village’s gazebo on Main Street. She added each child participating in the story reading session at the gazebo could be presented with a coupon highlighting participating downtown businesses.
"It could be a coupon for a free item at the store or a percentage off for a purchase. We could call them ‘Boo Bucks,’ to use for whatever,” Steele said.
Steele also said she felt the October event at the village’s gazebo could be a catalyst for similar programs the business community could do for Christmas as the village will hold its annual Christmas in the Park program from Dec. 12-14 with the lighting of the trees in Garrett Park to be held on Dec. 12.
"I’m just thinking that there are times when we can really incorporate the downtown business area that we really haven’t thought of so far,” Steele said.