Hill Air Force Base celebrates Firestone grand opening

222Red, white and blue balloons marked the location of Hill's brand new Firestone store, at 7440 6th St., Building 420, better known as the Mini Mall.

To celebrate the grand opening, many other local businesses came to join in the fun, including Young Chevrolet, Willey Ford, Tony Divino Toyota, Golden Spike Harley Davidson and Mick Martin from KBER 101.1's Mick and Allen show.

"They got the local companies to come up and play and be a part of our grand opening," said Susan Heaps, services business manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

On display at the local dealership's stands were several cars just waiting to draw a crowd. There was a car for everyone, from the engine-revving 2010 Chevy Camaro and 2010 Ford Mustang sports cars to the environmentally conscious 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid. Even the Harleys were drawing a crowd, including a few buyers.

Mark Asbill, a retired member of the Air Force's 649th Munitions Squadron, had some prospective buyers stop by his stand, and even sold a 2009 Harley Davidson "Road King."

"It's neat to get people out and about," Asbill said about the event.

Along with car and motorcycle displays, Firestone also offered several chances for Team Hill members to win special prizes, including a 2009 Lexus RX 400h hybrid. Also featured were specials on oil changes, brake service, and more that will last until Sept. 30.

For Dick Clark, the vice president of Firestone's western division, the event was the start to a great opportunity to give back to America's defenders.

"On behalf of Firestone Complete Auto Care, I'd like to thank Col. Williams, other commanders, chiefs, members of Team Hill, Don Sydlik and AAFES for giving us the opportunity to serve the brave men and women that defend this great country," Clark said.

For Team Hill, the event marked the opening of a business that serves to sustain Airmen and their families.

"I know as a deployed member — one who goes away — it is folks like the Firestone community that provide care for my family when I'm gone," said Williams.

Hill's Airmen aren't the only ones happy to see Firestone move in, either. AAFES is also glad to have a friendly neighborhood car care center on base, and the organization expects that Firestone will add a lot of business, Heaps said.

"It's wonderful, we love it," said Shanon Weesies, a vending technician for AAFES. "We're very happy to have them."

As Col. Williams, Col. Joseph Scherrer of the 75th Mission Support Group, Clark and Mike Morse, store manager of Firestone Complete Care, collectively snipped the red and white ribbon in front of the mini mall's entrance, the crowd cheered.

"Thank you for being our neighborhood car care center," Williams said, and the crowd roared its agreement.

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