Local shops refuse to stay closed because of storm
Dec 21, 2012 (Newton Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
That's been the unofficial creed of the United States Postal Service for more than 100 years. And despite the cold, the wind and impassible roads left behind by Wednesday night's "Winter Storm Draco," postal workers were hard at work Thursday, even as the storm forced other local businesses to close.
"Every carrier reported to work today," Post Master Greg Barnes said. "It's been very challenging for a lot of carriers. Every carrier delivered as much as they could."
While Thursday served as a county-wide snow day for local students, many shops and eateries in Newton tried to conduct business as usual. A few hiccups caused by the blizzard, however, had a bigger impact than initially anticipated.
Ryan Riggs, service manager at Magnum Automotive, had his parking lot clear of snow drifts by 8 a.m., but ran into another problem upon finding his shop's phone lines down.
"Luckily we were able to transfer all calls to our cell phones or else we wouldn't have been able to do much business," he said. Magnum's credit card machine runs through the phone line, though, which created problems at the register.
"With the credit card machine being down it makes it tough to pay for anything," Riggs added. "Because there was no Internet, we haven't been able to get parts. Some of our parts transfer trucks come from as far away as Omaha, so it's been tough trying to get parts and tires, but hopefully tomorrow will be business as usual."
While Riggs and his crew toughed it out, a few local restaurants found it difficult to stay open beyond lunchtime.
PJ's Deli received numerous orders for deliveries early Thursday morning, and Uncle Nancy's Coffeehouse sported its usual regular crowd around 8 a.m., but due to issues with both phone lines and the weather, both had closed up shop by midday.
A post on Uncle Nancy's Facebook page read: "We will be closing at 11:30 due to weather and power lines being down." Likewise, a sign on PJ's door told customers that the shop would be closing at 1 p.m.
Even business at Fareway in downtown Newton was slower than usual, according to produce clerk Anthony Pritchard.
Scott Morris of Windstream Communications said that within Newton, just 20 customers were without phone service. He explained that this was likely due to problems with individual phone lines outside of homes or businesses.
"They're isolated incidents," Morris said. "It's not due to any group problem."
Some businesses and homes lost phone service as a result of losing power, not due to phone line issues.
Although Newton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darrell Sarmento wasn't aware of any local businesses in particular that experienced storm-related difficulties, he did notice that downtown seemed a bit more deserted than usual.
"I know some of the businesses on the sqaure didn't open today," he said. "It was just a tough storm with the wind making the roads icy, but hopefully everything will be up and humming again [Friday]."
For other businesses, staying open was just part of the job.
"I got work to do," said George Riggs, owner of Riggs Printing, about being open Thursday.
Family Video, located at 817 N. Third Ave E. in Newton, has seen its share of winter storms throughout the years.
"Family Video always wants to stay open for the customer 365 days a year," said full-time employee Andrew Boothe.
"My husband made it to work. So can I," Trenz Hair Studio owner Kelly VanWyk said. "I'm dedicated."
The Newton Police Department and the Jasper County Sheriff's Office could not be reached for comment, as all the officers were busy dealing with the winter storm and its aftereffects.
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