Former DeWitts’ Auto Service demolished, relocated before road construction

JENISON, Mich. -- A well-known business, and one of the oldest in the Jenison area, was demolished Monday after relocating to pave the way for upcoming road construction.

DeWitts' Auto Service moved to the intersection of Cottonwood Drive and Baldwin Street in 1960. Following in his father and uncle's footsteps, DeWitts' Auto Service Co-Owner Gene DeWitt says this demolition is bittersweet.

"It’s a place I’ve been coming to for 50 years," said DeWitt, "Only way the horse knows goes back to the stable. Family operated, we’re one of the oldest businesses here in Jenison yet, and we’d like to continue it on and hope people follow us."

58 years later, DeWitts' and their iconic "follow the ball" globe relocated about a mile and a half away on Chicago Drive. The move is part of a nearly two-year land acquisition of businesses from Bauer Road to Baldwin Street, and enables road improvement that's expected to begin in June at Cottonwood and Baldwin.

“This intersection is one of the most congested intersections in Ottawa County different times of the day: morning, night-time you can expect to wait for three, four lights to be able to turn left," said Deborah Poeder, President and Owner of Land Matters, LLC.

Between curious passersby and normal traffic, construction is expected to alleviate congestion and take about three months Poeder says.

"We’re going to be putting in two left turn lanes, a through lane, right turn lanes, and then also doing some improvements at the other legs of the intersection," said Poeder, adding that Cottonwood Drive will be reconstructed to five lanes between Baldwin and Bauer.

Though at a different location, DeWitt says they intend to continue their word-of-mouth family business with the relationships they’ve developed over decades, including with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

"[The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department] actually had a key to the business, so that if they ran a tail or headlight out in the middle of the night they could come in and put it in themselves and just leave us a little note that they were here," said DeWitt.

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