From the Ashes

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Thanksgiving was barely over last year when the skies over Marietta were lit by flames. All the owners of Front Street businesses could do was watch as their livelihoods disappeared before their eyes.

Among them was the owner of All-Pro Nutrition, which had just moved to a larger location on Front Street three weeks before the fire.

"We needed a lot more room than we had over in the Putnam Commons and we've been growing steadily since 2000," says owner Rob Gilliand. "We moved November 3 and the fire was November 28, so we had 21 days of business before we lost everything."

Gilliand was lucky. He was able to find space up the street just weeks after the blaze. It isn't just All-Pro that's changing locations. After moving to Pike Street following the fire, Mad Hen Primitives is coming back to Front Street, moving into a building that formerly was occupied by Putnam Chocolates, and there are plans to reoccupy the area destroyed by the fire.

"It's the way progressive cities are growing by moving people into your downtown areas," said Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen. "It looks like a very good plan; we're excited about that downtown urban development."

The fire may have destroyed buildings, but for the most part it hasn't destroyed businesses.

"We're not going anywhere," Gilliand vows. "If a fire and a flood doesn't take us out, we have no plans but for being right there."

Two Parkersburg men are serving prison sentences after pleading guilty earlier this year to charges related to last year's pre-dawn fire.