Hocking Hank

Hocking Hank the groundhog is seen here in a 2019 photo.

LOGAN — Despite a gloomy prediction of six more weeks of winter, the Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce had a bright and virtual annual Groundhog Day breakfast through Zoom Tuesday morning.

The breakfast started at 8 a.m. with an introduction from Hocking Hills Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bailey Simons and picking a winner for this year’s raffle. Up to 57 people joined the call at one point.

The meeting was full of pre-recorded updates from both the chamber of commerce and its members, as well as public officials. Presenters included the Logan-Hocking School District, the Vinton County National Bank, the Hocking Valley Community Hospital, the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, the Logan Theater and more.

The Hocking Hills winery announced a new business to come this fall; 58 West, a downtown bistro, winery, distillery and brewery, will open in the old Don Wood building, at 58 W. Second St., near the new Worthington of Logan hotel.

“The showroom will become restaurant and bar space, and we will have a production area in the back,” Blaine Davidson, CEO of Hocking Hills Winery, said in the video. “We hope to open 58 West in the late season of 2021.”

The Hocking County commissioners also gave updates regarding 2020 and the future into 2021.

“We have been doing some very incredible work on sewage throughout the county,” commission President Jeff Dickerson said in a video. “Take Murray City for instance, they never had a public sewer system in Murray City. They now do, it’s almost complete. Carbon Hill, the same way.”

Commissioner Gary Waugh also mentioned plans to convert the former Hocking Correctional Facility into a jail.

“This county, because of the horrible expense, we pay out every year up to a million dollars to house the prisoners from the county,” Waugh said. “This is a great, great thing for us.”

The Logan Daily News reported in July 2019 that the county commissioners had signed a lease for the former Hocking Correctional Facility. Waugh explained that the pandemic has caused delays in the progress of the facility’s conversion.

“But it looks like, absent another nightmare, Hocking County’s going to have its own jail,” Waugh said in the video. “We have decided, with the sheriff’s office and with Judge Moses, that we would make it an all-female jail that would hold about 205 prisoners. Also a quarter of the jail property, we’re going to convert into a drug treatment center. So the inmates will be treated if they wish, before they go (back) to the general population.”

The new jail will be a source of revenue for the county, Waugh added.

Mayor Fraunfelter also gave his thoughts on 2020 and moving forward, ending with a message on stewardship. The breakfast concluded with the 2021 Hocking Hank award, a stuffed traveling groundhog, awarded to Paula Rodgers.

“There’s a lot going on, and there will continue to be a lot going on,” Karen Raymore, executive director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, said in a video. “So in conclusion, we are very optimistic about 2021, and beyond.”

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