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On Friday, February 14th there were a few reasons to celebrate. The obvious one was Valentine’s Day of course. The second and third went hand in hand. 

Second on the list was the recent opening of Casey’s General Store. Many citizens have anticipated the opening of the new Casey’s General Store on the east end of town in Winchester. Although they have been open for a week, Casey’s hosted their Grand Opening event on Friday and Saturday with a Ribbon Cutting. Many specials were offered to patron such as free coffee or discount prices on donuts and their famous tasty pizza by the slice.

Casey’s General Store, a Fortune 500 company,  is the fourth largest convenience store retailer and the fifth largest pizza chaining the United States. Operating over 2,100 stores in 16 states, Casey’s was founded more than 50 years ago. 

“At Casey’s, our purpose is to make the lives of our guests and communities better each day. We are excited to join the Winchester Community,” stated Katie Petru, Director of Communications for Casey’s General Stores. The nearly 3,600 sq. foot store will be open 7 days a week from 5 am-midnight. Offering a 5 gas pump island, they will also offer their famous made from scratch pizza, bakery items, sandwiches and a full service brewed coffee station.

One item that patrons are looking forward to is the breakfast pizza offered at Casey’s. “Our breakfast pizza is one reason we’re famous and you can get it with veggies, sausage or bacon. We introduced breakfast pizza in 2001 and it remains a favorite along with our taco pizza,” said Petru. 

Customers are encouraged to join Casey’s Rewards, the company’s first-ever loyalty program, which provides guests the ability to earn points on everyday purchases and redeem therefor Casey’s Cash, fuel discounts or donate to a local school of their choice. The ability for Casey’s Rewards members to turn their points into a donation to local schools, Cash for Classrooms, is a distinctive featuring demonstrating Casey’s purpose to make lives better in their communities.

Third on the list of celebrations was the ribbon cutting hosted by the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. Yes, that’s right the first ever ribbon cutting by the newly formed Randolph County Chamber. In 2019, members of both the Winchester Area and the Union City Chambers met several times to see if a county chamber was a feasible idea for both parties. Neither chamber had a full time Executive Director and both were struggling to keep interest, programs and benefits coming to their members. Combining the two just made sense after the board members met and discussed what their goals were with each other. Although neither chamber wanted to lose their identities as individual chambers, the future of each chamber was in question in the next few years.  

Wanting to move forward with the proposal, committees were formed, boards met, questions were asked and answered, funding was achieved and now the Randolph County Chamber is ready to serve and promote all of Randolph County. 

Randolph County Economic Development Director, Ceann Bales, has been instrumental in bringing everyone to the table and making sure that each community is represented moving forward. “We are super excited about this opportunity to serve all of Randolph County. Some small communities don’t have the resources to adequately promote their town’s activities. Having a county-wide chamber will allow for them to be able to combine forces and make their events even more successful,” Bales stated.  

Having just held their first board meeting in recent weeks, early structure plans are underway. “Sub-committees are meeting as we speak to form groups that will be accountable to members for marketing, membership benefits, special events and every aspect under the umbrella of the Chamber’s duties,” stated Bales. 

Their Vision Statement reads: Uniting our strengths to build a brighter future for our businesses and communities. While their Mission statement is simple: To promote grow, educate and preserve our communities. Their goals are to have visible and office presence in various communities not just one location. “There may be a central office somewhere, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have a designated desk space or location to work out of in other communities.  We are sticking to our goal of promoting every community in Randolph County and having a presence in each is vital,” Bales added. 

Membership solicitation will start in early spring once dues are determined and benefits have been designated. “Right now the REDC is thrilled to be hosting ribbon cuttings for anyone who has opened a new business in the recent months. We would be happy arrange one with the local media and personnel to get the most recognition available until the Chamber is fully established,” explained Bales. 

Along with the new name comes new fresh faces and ideas. The new Chamber will have Gavin West, of Crossroads Financial Credit Union, at the helm as President. Eric Hanlin of Hoosier Cue Daddy Too will serve as Vice President, Delia Ulloa of Luz Tacos will be the Treasurer and Greg Beumer will serve the group as Treasurer. Board members will have representation from every community as well. Farmland-Peggy Ragle, Lynn-Travis Gambrel, Parker City-Adrian Moulton, Ridgeville-Heidi Huffman, Saratoga-Julie Rideout, Union City-Delia Ulloa, Steve James, Casey Bruns, Angie Pollic, Modoc-Greg Beumer, Winchester-Jennifer Faddis, Eric Hanlin, Scott Williams will serve their communities and be the voice on the board in the future. 

Watch for more exciting news from the Randolph County Chamber in the very near future. “We invite everyone to join in our vision we have for Randolph County as a whole,” stated Bales. “We ask for all businesses and individuals who are interested in learning more about the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce to call the REDC office at 765-584-3266 and we would be happy to answer what we can or direct them to the proper person,” Bales continued.