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Officials turn out for Walmart groundbreaking ceremony in Orange
Walmart's Supercenter in Orange is expected to employ about 300 people.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY DAN McFARLAND
State and local officials began the final step in a years-long saga Tuesday by taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a Walmart Supercenter in Orange County.
"This is a textbook example of a local government and a business enterprise working together to make sure they come up with the best plan for both the community and for the business," said House Speaker Bill Howell of Stafford County. "It is going to be a tremendous boon for Orange."
The initial choice of a store site near the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20 in the Wilderness battlefield area ignited protests and a lawsuit from preservationists. Walmart eventually agreed to buy but not develop that site and find another.
The new site is about four miles west, at the intersection of Route 3 and Somerset Ridge Road.
Previous Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame recalled skeptics' comments he had received over the past year and recounted a conversation with "one guy who, after the first attempt, was absolutely certain that Walmart would never happen in Orange County."
"He owes me $5 as soon as the first shovel turns," Frame quipped Tuesday.
"We look forward to the services to our community, the jobs for our citizens and the revenue for our county that Walmart will provide," he added.
Frame also praised the retailer's efforts to alleviate residents' concerns over the new site by providing buffering between Route 3 and the store.
"Route 3 is the main corridor through this end of our county, and this roadway lined with trees provides the kind of aesthetic image we want to project to our visitors. I hope other developments will continue this practice," he said.
Supervisor Grover Wilson added his welcome. "Thank you, Walmart, for coming," he said. "It's been a long time, but this is a beginning for the Route 3 corridor to come alive."
Current Board Chairman Teel Goodwin recalled Winston Churchill's observation that, "Pessimists see the difficulty in every opportunity, and optimists see the opportunity in every difficulty."