DECATUR -- After laying dormant for six years, the Decatur car wash has reopened under new management with the city's own police chief, Steven Grizzle, at the head.
On Thursday, Sept. 14, community leaders and Grizzle's family came to celebrate the "Clean Get Away Car Wash" grand opening, across the street from Simmons Chicken Store in Decatur.
After the Decatur Car Wash had closed its doors in 2017, it succumbed to the weather and elements. During the six years it remained closed, the exterior paint had faded. Weeds had grown in the cracks, and the car wash equipment had deteriorated due to lack of maintenance.
In 2018, Grizzle joined the Decatur police department and noticed the car wash during his patrols. It wasn't until he heard residents commenting about their desire to have the city grow that he set his eyes on the Decatur car wash.
"I kept hearing everybody say, 'Man, I wish the city would grow,'" said Grizzle. "So me and my wife talked about it and finally decided, 'Let's take a step and try to help Decatur get this thing going and, hopefully, we'll make it.'"
The project would be a huge undertaking.
"It took two months to clean the car wash," said Grizzle. "That included the concrete, the walls ... redoing all the hoses, the pumps, and everything because it had been inactive since 2017."
The work was a collective effort with many key players. The car wash landscaping and design were put into the hands of Grizzle's wife, Haixia Grizzle. The car wash's internal work and equipment installation was done by R.A. Simmons.
"He did all my refitting, the work in the pumps and hoses. This guy has been doing this for a long time ... He's been a godsend and has helped me out a lot," said Grizzle.
He added that Simmons was originally part of the crew that built the car wash for its first owners.
What was the most challenging work on the restoration project? "Just the fact that it hadn't been running in a long time," Simmons said. "The little things got dirty and rough."
Standing by his side at the ceremony was Grizzle's family. His father, Steven Grizzle Sr., and his mother, Kay Grizzle, expressed joy in their son's accomplishments.
"I've always been proud of my son," Steve Grizzle Sr. said. "He's always been an example for everybody. He's always an honest and hard worker and you can trust him no matter what. He's just a special guy."
"I'm very proud of him and his wife," said Kay Grizzle. "When we saw (the car wash) at the beginning, I was a little skeptical because it looked like an awful lot of work. And now, to see all that they have accomplished ... I'm so proud of them."
Cody Tosta, president of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, gave a speech during the grand opening. He said, "Steve and Haixia Grizzle did an outstanding job remodeling the car wash. It looks fantastic ... so if you guys ever want to come out and get your car, truck and tractors washed, come on out to support this local business."
Mayor Bob Tharp said, "The city needs (local businesses). And the town has been very receptive. ... We welcome everyone here as we grow with Decatur. ... In five years, it'll be a different-looking town."
Grizzle feels the same sentiment. He hopes the new car wash will be a permanent fixture in the community. He acknowledges it's a perfect time to open the "Get Away Car Wash" because of the recent expansions and developments in the city. "Now we have potential growth. We got housing coming in from Schuber Mitchell and Rausch Coleman. Other big builders are coming this way ... that's what we want. We want to see Decatur grow."