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Portage auto shop closing its doors after fight with county

Portage auto shop closing its doors...

PORTAGE, Wis. - A Portage auto shop is closing its doors after a court ordered the business to move out so Columbia County can finish building a new administrative building.

John Gruber has run Gruber Automotive, at 208 East Edgewater Street, in Portage, for 33 years. But since last year, the land his shop sits on has been owned by Columbia County after officials used eminent domain to acquire it.

The building is the last of 14 along the Portage Canal to be torn down to make room for a new county administration and health and human services building.

After a legal battle stretching out over months, a judge in December told Gruber he had 30 days to close the business and vacate the property. The county is considering allowing Gruber to have another 30 days to finish the move, he said.

So Gruber is packing up his shop and exploring his options.

"Hopefully we're going to be able to find something in the next few months, by the time the weather (improves), it's going to be easier to move," Gruber said. "But we'll see. Time will tell."

County officials in August awarded Gruber $140,000 for his land and relocation expenses, but he told News 3 in September that the money wouldn't cover the cost of finding a new place to set up shop.

While his future is uncertain, Gruber said he was thankful for the support of customers and friends.

The county has already begun work on the new building, which officials said they hope to open this summer. The land Gruber's currently occupies will be used for a parking lot for the facility, plans show.


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