Do you like popcorn? Or enjoy a cup of coffee for a pick-me-up during a shopping excursion?
An affirmative answer to either or both of those questions should make you a pleased shopper at the newest store scheduled to open during the latter part of October at the Ohio Valley Mall complex.
"As soon as a shopper comes in our door, he or she will be offered free popcorn and a free cup of coffee regardless of the time of day," exclaimed Evan Schimmel, who is an assistant manager of the Rural King store that has begun moving merchandise into the Mall Ring Road Building that previously had been a home to Hills and Ames department stores.
"Free coffee and popcorn will be available all day, every day," Schimmel exclaimed.
Offering the freebies is a 50-year tradition with Rural King, which opened its first store in 1960 in Mattoon, Ill. Since then it has opened 55 stores in seven Midwestern states - Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky.
Schimmel was at the new store site all last week, conducting a jobs fair with the intent of employing from 45 to 60 individuals to fill full and part time positions as managers, department and assistant managers, customer service, receiving and sales associates, cashiers, small engine repairmen and other positions in preparation for a grand opening of the store tentatively scheduled for Oct. 26.
More than a dozen employees had already been employed Monday on a full and part time basis to begin stocking the shelves with merchandise in the 80,000 square foot building that sets apart from the main mall shopping center and is located adjacent to Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts. "We're hoping to have 30 to 40 people employed in the next few days to get the store ready," Schimmel noted. "Then those employees can stay on board as full or part time employees."
Although the jobs fair ended Friday, Schimmel said the search for employees will not stop. "We will continue accepting applications. We are always looking for qualified applicants."
A soft opening for the store has been set for Oct. 22 and a grand opening on Oct. 26. "That's the schedule right now but it could change," Schimmel pointed out. That would depend upon several factors including how rapidly the wide variety of merchandise handled by Rural King is set in place.
"We specialize in farm equipment and home products. We'll have everything from horse feed, chicken feed and farm equipment to housewares, fashion and work clothes, food, automotive and toys," Schimmel explained. "Our larger products like farm tractors, tillers and all types of other farm equipment will be kept outside the store."
Schimmel noted he had a fairly good turnout of job seekers at the job fair. "There were a lot of them who were looking for a second job." He said measures were taken to accommodate such schedules.
"We're looking to be a pillar of the community," Schimmel declared, "and we strive to offer a better product." He said that will be evident when the store opens. "We're planning on having some great grand opening day specials, then follow that up with daily specials."
Schimmel was employed with Rural King four months ago at a store in Indiana. But since his new assignment to Belmont County his new home is in the East Ohio area. "I found a home in Yorkville. My girlfriend and our 2-year-old daughter will be coming here with me."
Yorkville is also where the store manager, Larry Pickett, has made his home. "I've been here about a month and a half," Pickett told me on Friday. "In fact, I helped Evan get his place. He's moving in today (Friday)." Pickett, who was busy elsewhere on the day I talked to Schimmel, told me Friday that close to 100 people were interviewed during the jobs fair.
Kim McGlothin of Bethesda is a typical example of one of the many prospective employees interviewed during the Rural King event, looking for a second job to supplement her income.
She was one of the first to be employed by the store. "I was hired right away and started work on Monday. This is my second job," McGlothin explained. "My other job is in Wheeling."
Her work shift at the present time at Rural King starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Her job at a halfway house in Wheeling starts at 4 p.m. and ends at midnight.
My obvious question to her was when do you sleep? Her quick answer was that she's used long hours because she completed her college requirements on a similar schedule. "When I was in college at Belmont Tech I worked 40 hours a week while taking 18 to 20 credit hours a quarter. So this is no problem," she exclaimed, gesturing toward the stack of boxes containing merchandise that had to be shelved as soon as she took her work break.
And McGlothin added she has every intention of staying on the job after the store opens for business.
A proposed one-year contract that would have united the Faith in Action Caregivers Inc. of Wheeling program with the Department of Jobs and Family Services for improvement of its Senior Services program at an cost of $51,000 has been rejected by the Belmont County commissioners, pending further study. The contract would have extended from Sept. 17 through Aug. 31, 2013.
Commission president Charles Probst Jr. informed officials of both the DJFS and the caregiver program that while he was not totally against the additional services that would be provided under the contract, he would vote against the measure to await a ruling from the prosecuting attorney on the legality of such a contract.
"We want to get an opinion from the prosecutor's office before we approve such a contract," Probst pointed out later. He was taking that stance because several years ago a similar proposal was advanced to have the Faith in Action program provide services and the prosecutor's office ruled against it.
Commissioner Ginny Favede joined Probst in opposing the contract until a legal opinion is received. She also expressed concern over increased operational costs since a coordinator would have to be employed to carry out the additional care program. All of the $51,000 would come out of levy funds approved by voters for the Belmont Senior Services.
DJFS director Duane Pielech was outspoken is his praise for such a partnership, claiming the services provided would greatly improve in-home care, cleaning and other services for the elderly citizens whose total numbers continue to increase in Belmont County.
Mead Township trustees, Shadyside Village officials and representatives of the Shadyside Volunteer Fire Department will get together on Wednesday for an informational meeting in their efforts to get public support for the creation of the OR&W Fire District that would encompass the village and township.
This will be the third of four informational meetings being held throughout the affected area to inform residents of the proposed fire district which officials of both entities have strongly endorsed as a means to greatly improve fire fighting efficiency in the area.
At one of the recent informational meetings, Shadyside Fire Chief David Lenz said creation of the fire district would be a valuable asset because of the dwindling numbers of volunteers and because of the increasing cost of maintaining a volunteer unit and firefighting equipment. . With passage of a 4-mill levy at the November general election, sufficient funds would become available to have a paid department comprised of full and part time firefighters.
The levy issue would not be a totally new one. At the present time Shadyside has a 2-mill levy in effect for operation of the fire department. It would be replaced by the 4-mill levy if approved by voters in November. Mead Township has a one-half mill levy in effect to support its contract with Shadyside for firefighting services. It would be replaced with the approval of the 4-mill levy. In both cases, the current levies would remain in effect if the levy issue should fail to pass in November.
Additional information about the levy issue will be outlined at the Wednesday meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the former Valley Inn in Dilles Bottom. Mead Township trustee Ed Good is urging all residents of the township as well as Shadyside residents to attend the informational session.
As work is moving at a fast pace to complete the inside renovation of the Ohio Valley Mall, heavy equipment last week started grinding up the asphalt surface in sections of the huge parking lot surrounding the retail center to prepare it for re-paving. Parking areas on the north side of the complex near Kmart and also on the western side opposite Crafts 2000 were roped off for the initial phase of the resurfacing project.
Inside the mall, work has been completed in the initial phase of the renovation in the Sears corridor. Plastic curtains that were rolled up above the entrances to stores so they could be lowered for dust protection during night working hours have been removed and the carpet flooring put in place for the entire length of the hallway.
Al Molnar can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.