Russian immigrant hopes to turn eyesore into thriving business in Oskaloosa

by Dennis Sharkey

A longtime Jefferson County resident is chasing the American Dream while cleaning up an eyesore in Oskaloosa.

Yuniy Kalinichenko moved to Jefferson County almost 20 years ago with his family after leaving their home in Russia in 1990. Kalinichenko came to America with his wife and six children.

Yuniy KalinichenkoAt the time the former Soviet Union was beginning to crumble and the country’s leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, opened a door for many Russians to leave the country.

“It was kind of a little open door at that moment,” Kalinichenko said. “I didn’t see any point in staying.”

With the help of a Lutheran church in Olathe he set up his family and eventually got a job as a mechanic. Currently Kalinichenko is a mechanic at Neil’s Finance Plaza in Kansas City.

After settling down in Olathe a new friend told Kalinichenko about a five-acre property in Jefferson County that was for sale. With a large family Kalinichenko saw an opportunity.

“I saw it and said ‘Wow that’s cool,’” he said.

Now Kalinichenko has purchased another property along Jefferson Street in Oskaloosa that has been an eyesore for years where he hopes to open a full service auto repair, body shop and used car sales office. Kalinichenko will keep the name simple and call it Jefferson County Auto.

Kalinichenko said he has driven by the building for years wondering how it could fall into a blighted state.

“I would drive by and say ‘I wish I could have it someday’” Kalinichenko said. “This building is supposed to make money and for many years it has done nothing.”

Kalinichenko has already replaced the siding and repaired broken doors and windows to the building but there is still a lot of work to do. He also would like to speak with the city about improving the sidewalks in front of the building that are cracked with weeds peeking out.

For now Kalinichenko will keep his full-time job in Kansas City but hopes to focus his full-time attention on Jefferson County Auto soon. When he does, Kalinichenko plans on hiring some of the area’s youth.

“If they really want to learn I will teach them the right way,” he said.

Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=1795

Posted by on Oct 9 2010. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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