NEW CUMBERLAND - Kennedy Marina and Campground in Newell soon will be able to add the words "under new management" to its entrance sign.
Hancock County commissioners Thursday awarded a bid to privately operate the marina to Chester businessman Mike Shenton, the highest of three vendors to bid on the project.
The move by county commissioners effectively separates the marina from the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board, which operated the Ohio River facility since the late 1990s. Shenton, 50, of Chester, will answer directly to the county commission, Commissioner Dan Greathouse said.
"We thought the bid we selected was the best of all three," Greathouse said, "and represents the best future use of that land. We were looking at what was the best investment for the county."
"This was not an easy decision," Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said.
Commissioner Jeff Davis abstained from the vote because he knows Shenton.
Commissioners will retain ownership of the marina's 13.3 acres and, based on Shenton's bid specifications, will receive $3,500 a month (or $42,000 a year) in marina revenues. The marina generates revenue through charges on boat docking, boat launches, camper and trailer rentals and vending.
Shenton, who has been a marina member for five years, said the bid award was "like a dream come true. ... We're looking forward to it."
Shenton, who owns and operates MJS Trucking, a contractor for FedEx and other delivery service companies, said he learned about the marina opportunity from his wife, Kelly.
"I've been in business for a dozen years," he said. "I ran the numbers and made the best bid I could make."
Shenton said the marina will be operated under the name Shenton Enterprises as a family-run business. The current marina manager, Terri Bailey, will stay on the county payroll through the end of the month, Greathouse said.
Bailey and the Ohio River Catfish Association were the other two bidders.
"A lot of time, effort and energy went into these bids," Swartzmiller said, thanking all three bidders.
Shenton doesn't plan to make any immediate changes, except for some physical improvements to the docks and the possible introduction of Wi-Fi service for campers. Rates will stay the same this year, he said.
Shenton said he doesn't know what his operating budget will be but that utilities alone will be $30,000 to $50,000 a year. The marina has 71 campsites and 25 boat docks. A sign at the marina says the regular season opens May 15.
Greathouse said Shenton will assume operations of the marina immediately.
Also on Thursday, commissioners:
Awarded grass cutting bids for various county-owned properties to Todd Melvin, dba Alan Enterprises, and Been There Cut That.
Authorized the payment of up to $3,500 in fees for applications and permits related to the construction of the new Hancock County 911 Dispatch Center/Office of Emergency Management building and the Hancock County Health Department building.