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President of Auburn Boulevard Business Association retires

File photo, Richard Hale stands on Auburn Boulevard, where he served as president of the Auburn Boulevard Business Association until 2022.

By Mike Hazlip—
After heading up the Auburn Boulevard Business Association (ABBA) since its inception and running a local auto shop for three decades, Richard Hale has passed on leadership responsibilities to a successor.

Hale made the announcement during November’s ABBA meeting, naming Diane Ebbitt as co-chair of the association. Ebbitt currently serves as Executive Director for the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce.

ABBA was officially formed in 2016, although the idea for a cohesive team of boulevard business owners dates back further.

In a 2017 interview, Hale told The Sentinel his vision was to make Auburn Boulevard “a destination point,” a vision the city has shared, with a current focus on the second phase of a $22 million+ plan called the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project.

When complete, Auburn Boulevard from Rusch Park to the Roseville border will have a similar look as the first phase of improvements, which began at Sylvan Corners and continued to just beyond Antelope Road. Phase I included undergrounding utility wires, adding new streetlights and medians, planting over 200 street trees, and installing nearly 10,000 feet of bike lanes and sidewalks.

Under Hale’s leadership, ABBA worked with the city to create a 31-point action plan for improving the boulevard in 2017. The plan was never implemented, however, as funding remained an unanswered question, unless the association formed a business improvement district to allow for a special tax assessment, which can be controversial among property owners.

Hale first opened Walt’s Auto Service at 7549 Auburn Blvd. in 1992, naming the business after a family member. Thirty years later, Walt’s Auto has now become part of the AAA network of repair shops and Hale says he plans to travel and spend time with family.

“We’re going to kind of let things gel,” Hale said in making his announcement last month, although noting he still plans to remain active in the Rotary Club. “I’m trying to step away from a few things just to, you know, spend more time at home with my wife, Lori, which is very important to me.”

Hale said walking away from the shop for the last time after hanging up the keys was an emotional day for both he and his wife.

“It’s an emotional deal, you know,” Hale said. “That day when we locked the door on October 10th… it was a long walk to the car.”

One thing Hale won’t miss is the commute from his home in Auburn.

So it’s going to be good to be home,” he said. “Yeah. So, really looking forward to it.”

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