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Ohio couple hits lottery jackpot

Jan 26, 2006, 8:33 am

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Ohio Lottery

Even before they won a $1 million prize in the Ohio Lottery, Gregory and Shelley West, of Marietta, were winners to their next door neighbor, Edee Starcher.

"I'm so excited for them. They are perfect neighbors," Starcher said.

"If Shelley makes a wonderful dessert, she'll bring some over and say, ‘Finish this.'"

The couple visited Starcher, of 622 Seventh St., Sunday to relay the good news that they had just won one of the 20 prizes of $1 million in the lottery's $200 Million Cash Spectacular instant game.

The Wests, of 620 Seventh St., chose a cash option and filed a claim at the Athens' regional office Monday for a lump sum of $357,500. They could have taken $50,000 annually for 20 years, adding up to $1 million. The Wests were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

"The numbers are so big I can't even compute them," Starcher said. "They came over Sunday and asked me to confirm what they were seeing."

The winning ticket was purchased at Marietta's Giant Eagle in the Frontier Shopping Center, only blocks from the Wests' own Seventh Street neighborhood. The store will receive an agent bonus of $10,000 for its part.

"It's great," Don Booth, store manager, said. "We're all tickled to death for them. The Wests are regular shoppers here — real good people. You always hear about someone winning in Cleveland or some place. This is pretty neat."

It's the first time in his 29-year career that his store had a $1 million prize winner, Booth said. He made some phone calls Tuesday to other store managers around the state to find out what happens next.

"It gets credited to this store," he said of the bonus. "All the other managers could say was ‘Wow.' It's the top prize in this game."

Starcher said her dogs love Gregory West.

"One year he gave my (dog) Annie white roses for Valentine's Day," she said. "That's just the kind of people they are. I certainly hope this doesn't make them move."

There is bound to be a period of change and lots of decisions for major money winners, said Robert W. Voisinet, certified financial planner with Raymond James Financial Services, 132 S. Fourth St.

"The first thing to do is say a little prayer of thanks," Voisinet said.

That being done, this investment specialist calls for some deft management of funds.

"Stick the money into a money market fund right away," Voisinet said. "This gives you time to think and to plan. Next, get an unlisted phone number, pay off your debts, and find a good financial planner."

If you don't have an expert to help with the newfound resources, interview two or three planners before making a choice, he said.

"Ask up front what services are offered and how he or she is paid," Voisinet said. "There are other issues too, like estate planning and insurance planning."

What not to do is "blow" the money won.

"Buying things not needed, blowing the money — it has happened to lottery winners before and certainly is not a good idea," he said.

Bill Page lives in the 500 block of Seventh Street and doesn't think he knows the Wests, although he might recognize them if he saw them out walking or mowing the lawn.

The big win was news to Page.

"Good for him," he said. "A million — wow — I'd go into shock."

This neighbor doesn't play the Ohio Lottery and never has.

"Maybe I ought to start," he said.

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