Ionia-area business displays profanity on sign

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BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As President Barack Obama’s time in office nears its end, one business in Ionia County isn’t pulling any punches.

Just days ago, the scrolling message on the digital sign at I-96 Towing & Repair on State Road south of Ionia read, “Only a few more days and that a—— will be out of the White House.”

Zeeland resident Ben Lichtenwalner said a colleague drove by the sign a few days ago and sent him video. He was so stunned, he shared it on YouTube and Facebook and then contacted 24 Hour News 8.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was just an embarrassment to our neighborhoods and our community in Michigan,” Lichtenwalner said Monday night.

24 Hour News 8 stopped by the business Monday afternoon. A slightly different but similar message including profanity remained.

Lichtenwalner is a father and a leadership consultant for local businesses. He said he supports freedom of speech, but that he’d rather see a positive message in front of the business. He said his biggest problem is with the profanity.

“We teach our kids all the time not to curse and yet here’s somebody who’s posting a big digital display ad, making it seem like it’s OK or acceptable or even expected of businesses to do something like that,” he said.

But it’s a private business, and it’s not illegal. Though it may offend some people, the Ionia County sheriff told 24 Hour News 8 there’s nothing his department can do about it.

Lichtenwalner, meanwhile, admits that he has an opposing view. He supports Obama and not President-elect Donald Trump. But he insists that in this case, it doesn’t matter. He said he would feel the same way about the sign even if it was referencing someone he didn’t support.

“I still think it would bother me, because at the end of the day, you’re still reflecting on your community as a business and that to me is inappropriate,” he said.

The owner of the business is Barry Bussell. 24 Hour News 8 tried getting in touch with him by talking with employees at the business and also calling a listed number, but was told Bussell was out working. He had not responded to attempts to reach him as of late Monday night.

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