Destination Brookville LLC receives $600,000 grant

By John Estridge, Editor

Destination Brookville LLC is a not-for-profit owned by three people, and it is receiving a $600,000 grant from the Lawrenceburg Riverboat Grant Program.

According to Brookville Redevelopment Commission (BRC) members, Sharon McMillin, Allen Beneker and Jenny Wilz are the three people who own Destination Brookville LLC. Sharon is the mother of State Representative and Brookville resident Jud McMillin. Beneker was one of Jud's business partners in Turning Point Gym. Wilz is the wife of Mick Wilz, owner of Sur Seal in Harrison, Ohio, and the man in charge of Whitewater Canal Trail Association. Mick is a good friend of Lowell "Teen" McMillin, Jud's father.

Jud is a member of the committee which approves grants from the Lawrenceburg Riverboat Grant Fund.

A Google search of Destination Brookville LLC comes back with the Turning Point Gym business, that was owned in part by McMillin and Beneker.

According to the BRC, the money will be used to remodel the former Case House Restaurant into a Bed and Breakfast.

Also, what is called a destination restaurant will be put in place on the first floor of the building owned by Destination Brookville LLC that now houses the Turning Point Gym on the second floor. There is also a plan to remodel upstairs apartments along Main Street to bring them back to what they once were. Finally, there is an entertainment part of the plan, but the BRC and the Brookville Town Council (BTC) did not know what that meant.

"Their goal is to fix up Brookville," BRC member Emily Whalbring said.

"They're thinking is we need more lodging in Brookville," BTC President Mike Biltz said.

Biltz said the entire plan, the Case House, restaurant, remodeling the apartments and the entertainment part is to bring people to Brookville and get them to stop.

"If they are going to be coming to the lake, come through here, it would be a place to stay," Biltz said. "With the restaurant, people would want to get out and walk. The restaurant would be a place to walk to, tourism."

"People that are going to the lake, try to get them to stop here in town to help the businesses in Brookville," Whalbring said.

Grant money will be administered by the BRC.

Redevelopment commissions were put in place in 2012 with one in Brookville and one in Franklin County at the insistence of Jud. He told commissioners and county council members the grants for Hautau and MBC Group would not be released until the redevelopment commissions were put in place.

Before the redevelopment commissions were put in place, grants from the Lawrenceburg Riverboat Grant Program were administered by the Franklin County Commissioners.

Commissioner Tom Wilson refused to sign onto one grant in 2008 that would have purchased land off U.S. 52 near its intersection with Holland Road for an industrial park. Jud was the attorney for the now defunct Franklin County Development Corp. which applied for and received that grant. Had Wilson not refused to sign off on that grant, that land would have been purchased and owned by the county.

The $600,000 grant is the largest grant received by any entity in the county this year. MBC Group received a $500,000 grant to purchase new machinery for its Brookville packaging plant located in the former Jay Garment building.

According to Franklin County Economic Development Commission members, MBC Group owners put up $500,000 to receive the $500,000 grant. Hautau requested a $450,000 grant for a $1.6 million addition to its facility off Indiana 101 north of Brookville. Lawrenceburg gave Hautau a $100,000 grant, meaning the Hautau owners invested $1.5 million.

At this time, it is not known how much money Destination Brookville LLC invested to receive the $600,000 grant from Lawrenceburg.