Jefferson County Kennel Club – a 50-year empire now sitting empty

Susie Reams
ECB Publishing, Inc.

In 1958, Steve Andris, a Georgia native from Savannah, built a greyhound track in Monticello.
Andris had never been to a race before, and he didn't know much about the racing dogs themselves, either.
All the same, Andris was fascinated with the idea of one day owning a greyhound track. This became a reality when Andris and his team won the ballot in 1958, after convincing Jefferson County to permit him to build and operate the track.
When he came to Monticello with his dreams of running a greyhound race track, Andris was getting his start and building the track with a borrowed loan of $25,000 from his father.
Despite his lofty aspirations, a year later, Andris still didn’t have the millions of dollars he had imagined making when the track opened.
So Andris sold stock in the race track, selling pieces of his business for anywhere between $1 and $3. Soon there were 500 stockholders helping support the track. He was careful to maintain the majority of the ownership, so when people were ready to cash out, he was the buyer and in 1994, he bought all the stock back – reclaiming complete ownership of his race track.
The race track did more than fulfill a dream for Steve Andris, it was also an employer to local people.
The Jefferson County Kennel Club created jobs for over a hundred people and the business boosted the economy for Jefferson County.
A half-century later, after building himself up in the world of dog racing, Andris was far from his roots as a beginner and knew everything about successfully racing dogs.
He also knew that he needed to add more attractions to keep his enterprise profitable. With that in mind, Andris added a poker room, where Texas Hold ‘Em was played – eventually, the cards became more profitable than the greyhounds.
There was never a time he was seen without a suit. Andris would always arrive at his race track at 9 a.m., and leaving at noon – only to return and oversee the results of each race.
It was also reported that Steve Andris was as generous with his money as he was prosperous, and he ended up giving a lot to the community and supporting local organizations and causes.
The lofty empire Andris had built, however, finally crumbled as a result of new laws that were passed in Florida and impacted the commercial racing of greyhounds.
After over 50 years of running dogs through the circular track at the kennel club, Andris' empire began to fall apart.
After the greyhound track closed, many greyhounds were given up for adoption, where the dogs found a home, as well as retirement.