SOUTHEAST NEWS (448)

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When navigating the inside of the New River Auto Mall’s auto body shop in Okatie, SC, it couldn’t hurt to have a GPS, an employee remarked, according to Rebecca Lurye, writing for islandpacket.com.

Marketing manager Jill Jauch was joking as she did laps around the Vehicle Remanufacturing Center, coordinating the shop’s grand opening, but she was not far off. Housed in a 36,000-square-foot former beer distribution facility on S.C. 170 in Okatie, the center has nearly as many rooms and stations as employees.

Each one boasts state-of-the-art technology for collision repairs, paint, or other vehicle upkeep that manager Gerrit den Dekker hopes will entice drivers to the new center in Jasper County, whether they purchased a car from the New River Auto Mall or not.

In one plastic tent, vehicles are cleaned and painted before they’re steered into large ovens for baking. In two white buildings behind the auto body shop, the used cars the Hardeeville auto mall acquires on trade-ins are detailed, then photographed for its website.

Another space is dedicated to repairing cars with aluminum bodies, which can be contaminated by iron oxide particles if a worker nearby is grinding steel, causing paint not to adhere properly to the surface. Confining aluminum-body vehicles helps the vehicle remanufacturing center avoid that problem and meet the standards of luxury manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche, and Land Rover.

The Vehicle Remanufacturing Center, which first opened in January 2013, celebrated its grand opening with live music, catering, and remarks from local community leaders.

The center has 16 employees and a plan for the operation to grow, according to den Dekker. He doesn’t expect that to take long.

“People tend to gravitate back to where they purchased their vehicle,” he said. “Now they’ve got that peace of mind of knowing it’s all the same family.”

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Geraldine High School’s senior class of about 65 students walked across the podium to accept their diplomas in Huntsville, AL, including a senior who had just lost her class ring. Now, 14 years later, the ring has finally been found. “Underneath one of the seats in a little pile of gunk was this little class ring,”said Checker Auto Body Repair manager Bill Goebel. He decided to take to social media to see if he could find the ring’s owner. “I made a post on the Geraldine High School’s page. Within four hours, we had tracked down the young lady who owned this ring, and she had lost it 14 years ago,” said Goebel. The ring belongs to Kelli Willingham, now known as Kelli Miller. She said the ring holds special meaning to her beyond that of just a normal class ring. “My grandparents bought the ring for me, and my granddaddy passed away seven years ago next Friday. So it’s, yeah, it’s really special,” said Miller.

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The Hampton Roads Autobody Association 3rd Annual Car Show took place April 26, 2014, at Khedive Shrine Center in Chesapeake, VA. All proceeds benefited the Wounded Warrior Project.

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A man has been arrested for arson in connection with a fire at a body shop in Darlington, SC, the morning of March 17, 2014.

Arthur Jeffery Repoley Jr. was arrested for third-degree arson on Thursday, March 20, 2014, by Darlington City Police Department for the fire at Joe's Garage on 401 South Main Street, according to Darlington City Police public information officer Kimberly Nelson. Repoley was an employee of the shop. Darlington City Fire crews were able to quickly put out the fire at the Darlington auto body shop, but the building is likely a total loss, said fire chief Pat Cavanaugh. At about 10:00 a.m., the department received a call about a fire at the shop located on the corner of South Main Street and Avenue A. Chief Cavanaugh originally reported that apparently someone doing work inside the building spilled gasoline on an electrical light and lit it off.

The incident was investigated by the Darlington City Fire Department, Darlington City Police Department, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. As a result of the investigation, Repoley Jr. was arrested on arson charges.

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The owner of the ABRA Auto Body & Glass at 430 East Winchester Boulevard in Collierville, TN, has filed a $1.9 million loan on the property. In September 2013, ABRA completed a $2.8 million sale-leaseback on the property. It bought the 13,056-square-foot auto service facility in a warranty deed from Collierville Investments LLP. Collierville Investments developed the property three years ago after buying the then-vacant land from ABRA Tennessee, an affiliate of Minneapolis-based ABRA Auto Body & Glass, for $465,000.

Friday, 02 May 2014 20:57

Carsmetics Charlotte, NC, Anniversary

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On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Carsmetics Charlotte held an open house at their facility in Charlotte, NC, to celebrate the stores one-year anniversary.

Many drivers choose not to report a light collision accident to their insurance company which fits Carsmetics’ business model well. Since they’re doing customer pay light collision, they eliminate high overhead costs associated with major diagnostic equipment and heavy machinery and the extra personnel required to manage such equipment and machinery.

Friday, 02 May 2014 20:34

Boyd Group Opens 3rd Shop in Fayetteville, NC

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The new Boyd Group shop in Fayetteville, NC, is located in a new building with one of the largest dealership groups in the market. It will be Boyd Group's third location in Fayetteville and 25th in North Carolina. It is approximately 18,500 square feet. Said Tim O’Day, president and COO, “This location is well-situated on a property shared with a well-recognized and successful dealership, which will enhance our profile to current and prospective customers.”

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Surfside Fire and Horry County Fire Rescue crews responded to a fire at DeFalco's Automotive and Towing in Surfside Beach, SC, the night of April 7, 2014. Crews responded to the shop at Highway 17 and 6th Avenue at about 10:53 p.m. after a fire alarm at the business was activated, and a police officer on patrol noticed smoke, said Surfside Fire Chief Daniel Cimini.

Firefighters had to cut through an overhead garage door to get into the building, and they found a large fire in the center bay.

The fire was contained to the service bays, but did extensive heat and smoke damage to the bays and the ceiling. Several vehicles also sustained smoke and heat damage, Chief Cimini said. The building itself is intact. About 35 firefighters in total responded and had the fire contained within about 25 minutes, Chief Cimini said. The fire was under control within 35 minutes. There was minimal damage and the business was able to open the following morning.

The cause of the fire appears to be a golf cart that shorted out as its battery was charging.

Friday, 02 May 2014 20:30

Bennettsville, SC, Shop Fire

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A fire destroyed Drigger's Auto Body Shop on Cheraw Highway in Bennettsville, SC, the afternoon of April 2, 2014. Bennettsville City Fire Chief Dixon Odom says two mechanics were welding a car when it caught fire. Flames covered the entire back of the building when fire crews arrived. It took them two hours to get the fire contained and under control, Odom said. At one point, the fire was so massive that city police shut down a portion of Cheraw Highway. About 55 to 60 firefighters with Bennettsville City Clio Rural, Wallace Rural, and McColl Rural Fire Departments responded to the fire.

Monday, 28 April 2014 19:14

Fatal Shooting At Colleton, SC, Auto Body Shop

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A shooting at a Colleton County auto body shop in Colleton, Sc, on March 14, 2014, left one man dead and another seriously injured, officials said. Several people and multiple weapons were involved, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Amye Stivender.

No shooting-related arrests have been made, but Edward and Jason Russell have been arrested and charged with obstructing justice in Sheriff R.A. Strickland’s investigation, she said.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene in the 200 block of Godwin Street, where they found a man already dead from his wounds, Stivender said.

Another man who was still alive had gunshot wounds to the face. He was transferred by helicopter from Colleton Regional Medical Center to the Trauma Unit of the Medical University of South Carolina, Stivender said.

Colleton County coroner Richard Harvey identified the deceased as Daquawn Lawton, 22, of Sharon Drive. Harvey said Lawton died of multiple gunshot wounds to the upper torso.

Monday, 28 April 2014 19:11

Ladonia, AL, Body Shop is "Total Loss" After Fire

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Around 1:00 p.m. April 3, 2014, responding fire personnel from the Ladonia Volunteer Fire Department found a “fully-involved” fire at Transform Minds Auto Body Shop on Highway 80 in Ladonia, AL.

“It was a huge fire, completely involved, a complete loss,” Chief Kane says.

James Lyles, the owner of the shop, says he was using a metal cutter when the fire broke out. “The sparks from the plasma cutter caught instantly,” Lyles says. “I tried putting it out.”

Lyles says after dialing 911, he ran outside and was able to flag down a police officer along Highway 80.

“It took [the fire department] so long to get here I ran back inside the building to try and put it out myself and the police officer had to pull me out,” Lyles says.

Chief Kane says he was told it took his department 10 minutes to respond. Lyles disputes those claims and took the department much longer to respond. Six units responded from the volunteer fire department. Additional units from the Phenix City Fire Department also responded to provide assistance.

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