Note: This story appears in the Thursday, Oct. 3 newspaper on Page A1.
The Athens County Commissioners have decided to place the former Atco building up for purchase or lease.
Use of the county-owned building, located on Campbell Street in Athens, has been up in the air for much of 2019. It has been suggested at various times as a new location for the elections office, a county records center and the sheriff’s office.
The Messenger reported in June that nearby Athens Mold and Machine pitched to the county government an idea to allow the company to acquire the sheltered workshop building.
Samuel Thorton, manager and part owner of the company, has been in meetings with the commissioners to arrange a possible deal of leasing the building at $5,000 per month for 25 years, with the potential to outright buy the building at the end of five years.
Commissioner Charlie Adkins said Wednesday he was approaching the matter cautiously. The commission has consulted with the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, and a recommendation from Assistant Prosecutor Zach Saunders expressed the need for the building to be advertised for the same lease offer for four weeks before Athens Mold and Machine would be allowed to enter into the lease.
Commissioner Charlie Chmiel expressed hesitation about the public advertisement period, arguing that allowing Athens Mold and Machine to occupy the building would create about 30 new and well-paying jobs in the county.
However, the advertisement period is intended to give other interested parties a chance to obtain the property. There is also an option for interested buyers to purchase the property outright for a minimum of $1.5 million.
The Messenger quoted Thornton in June as saying the potential move would add $375,000 to the local economy each month. He said then the company’s customers buy 90 percent of their tire molds and allied items overseas. He noted a recent change from consumers leaning toward buying more in the U.S. and the company’s customers have expressed a desire to do so.
Chmiel said Wednesday that Athens Mold and Machine has another building option located in Akron and that there is a desire to keep these jobs in town.