Welcome to our county

A new billboard to draw visitors to West Branch and the surrounding community was unveiled Aug. 28. The project is the idea of business owner Sean Gilbert. Drivers and passengers will see the sign as they approach Exit 212.

“I wanted to do something for the community,” he said. “We needed to spur some excitement to get people off the expressway. We are missing opportunities when vehicles drive by our community.”

The billboard is dedicated to Ogemaw County, and a tribute to the Noffsinger family. Jim and Jerry Noffsinger put the board up on their property 25 years ago. Due to regulations governing the distance between the expressway and the billboard, it could not be used for advertising. Jim Noffsinger died just days before the sign, finally in use, was revealed; other members of the family were on hand for the unveiling.

The artwork on the sign is by Jared Warren of Dragons Den Productions, which is located in West Branch Outlet Shops, as is Gilbert’s store, Made In The USA. Gilbert wants people to exit at West Branch to buy gas, stop for a meal and go shopping.

“We need them to pull off the expressway,” Gilbert said. “If they see something interesting, something fresh, they may just do that. Maybe they’ll do that magnificent loop that we have in (downtown) West Branch and enjoy the rest of our community.”