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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks Tuesday, June 22, 2021, during a celebration of the re-opening of Riley Chevrolet in Jefferson City. The dealership at 2033 Christy Drive had been closed because of damage from the 2019 tornado. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

In a celebration of reopening the Riley Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealership, owners made a signification donation to the constructing the Bicentennial Bridge.

Co-owner Kevin Riley presented Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin with two checks of $8,500 each.

The amount comes from the dealership celebrating 85 years in Jefferson City.

Riley said originally he wasn't originally sold on the Bicentennial Bridge project, but has come to see the potential value in the project.

"We've always been part of the community and we've, for years, given back to charities," he said. "This is a little bit outside of our box on gifts, but it's a vital part to the community so I thought it would be appropriate to help."

"I'm speechless," Tergin said, explaining she wasn't aware the donation was coming. "What a way to celebrate 85 years of lasting legacy to give back. We're here celebrating everything you've gone through to rebuild and help our community and you're just focused on giving back."

The collective $17,000 donation will go toward the Bicentennial Bridge, which will stretch from near the Missouri Capitol Building to Adrian's Island. Work on the $3.5 million bridge began in February.

The donation was given at an event, hosted at the newly reopened dealership, was an opportunity to give back to those who helped the community after the May 2019 tornado.

The Riley's dealership was hit hard by the tornado and is reopened last month after two years of rebuilding.

Riley said there will be an open house Saturday for people to visit and see around the new building.

The Riley family also owns a Toyota dealership in Jefferson City and between the two more than 770 vehicles were totaled in the tornado.

However, the Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealership was hit harder and needed a complete rebuild.

Riley said he's grateful for the temporary location across town the staff was able to operate the Buick, GMC and Cadillac out of while rebuilding, but he's happy to be back home.

"There's always little things in a huge project like this to get complete, you've got to dot the I's and cross the T's, but things have been going great," he said about reopening. "We appreciate the building that was offered us on the other side of town, we're thankful for that. Boy, if we didn't get that I don't know where we were, we would have gone but yeah we got to, we're back home. My dad built this store initially on this property in 1971."

Jackie Vessel, with General Motors, said in her 28 years with the company, she's never seen a dealership go through the level of destruction and rebuild the Riley dealership did.

"This is the kind of partner we have adored having in our family," she said. "No one survives this without a good foundation and it is because of your family, the multiple generations that have come in and continue to work together as one."

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