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Hell Gets Down To Business

Actually, it's Hell, Mich. (population 247), a town that John Colone hopes to transform into the Halloween capital of the U.S.

Hell is about an hour west of Detroit, and Colone owns two of the three businesses there. He's planning to build a huge complex to serve as a year-roound Halloween center. He expects the project will take about three years to complete.

Chamber of Commerce? Try Chamber of Hell instead.

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Ice cream parlor? No. It will be I-Scream Parlor.

Colone also envisions a theme restaurant, a haunted bed and breakfast, a year-round haunted house, and a virtual reality theater.

"It's always been a dream of mine," he says. "I was born and raised here, and I've always loved itÂ… I'm at a point where my kids are grown and why shouldn't we be taking it easy? This is what I want to do with the rest of my life."

Part of his plan to raise funds for the project is to sell "pieces of Hell" to the public.

"Right now, I'm funding it solely by myself," he says. "But starting next week, you can buy a piece of Hell. For $19.95, you'll get a square inch of dirt that we'll send you in a box with a greeting. So if you're sending it to your kid, you could write something like, 'I hope this is the only Hell I give you.' And we're going to sell Hellmark cards: 'If you can't send the best, send them Hell.' And we're going to have Hells Brothers coffee and other fun things like that. I do have six partners, but when I recruited them I tld them I don't want their money."

Colone says Hell is actually quite beautiful. "It's just a small, rural community with wonderful hiking trails and biking trails. Not what you'd expect."

When asked how the town came to be named Hell, Colone recounts a story that came from the local George Reese family in 1841: "The family owned a flour and grain mill on the river, and they used to make moonshine. So at night the wagons would come home without the drivers, because they'd be drunk from the moonshine, and when people would ask the wives where their husbands were, they'd say, 'Oh, they're in hell.' So when it came time to name the town, Reese said, 'Why don't you call it Hell? Everyone else does.' And so it's named Hell."

As for Colone's modern plans for Hell, his fellow citizens haven't been extremely stirred.

"There hasn't been much reaction, except by two people who wrote nasty letters, cursing at me, telling me I was ruining the town," says Colone. "But they weren't exactly in a sober state of mind. Otherwise, people don't seem to have much to say about it."

More information about Hell may be obtained at Colone's Web site: www.hell2u.com.

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