Venango County Prepares to Go Green

| May 28, 2020

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – Businesses across the area have been preparing to reopen as Venango County will move to the green phase of Pennsylvania’s reopening plan on Friday, May 29.

(Pictured: Jeni Clark owner of Clark’s Clipper)

“It’s great, and it seems like nature and the Lord agreed, because when it (the move to green phase) was announced, suddenly everything was green,” Venango County Commissioner Sam Breene told exploreVenango.com.

“We had green on the trees and the grass was looking greener, and it was 80 degrees out. Everyone started getting out and enjoying themselves, but still being responsible, and was really good to see that.”

Breene noted that while the county hadn’t received much guidance about moving forward into the green phase as of early Wednesday, the commissioners aren’t quite as concerned as they had been during the previous phase.

“I hope that means we’re going to get what we’ve been asking for: a chance for businesses to figure out what’s right for them, and a chance for our county government, who know what’s best for our constituents better than anyone in Harrisburg does, to make the policies for our area and figure out what works best for our people.”

The clarification on the guidelines was finally provided late Wednesday, as many business owners were already working hard to prepare for opening on Friday.

Salons and barbershops have been among some of the hardest-hit businesses, as they have been under mandated closure since the beginning of the virus mitigation efforts in Pennsylvania.

“I am excited!” said Jeni Clark, owner of Clark’s Clipper (formerly Siverly Barbershop). “I am ready to get back, but sad because I’ve enjoyed spending so much time with my family.”

She and her staff are currently very busy cleaning, booking appointments, and getting the word out about the restrictions they will be operating under.

“This is hard for our kind of clientele because we are a walk-in business,” she noted.

According to Clark, they had to take out over half of their chairs and rearrange the business to allow for social distancing and will have to ask people to wait in their vehicles until they can get their haircut. She also had to bring in extra help to make sure things run smoothly.

“The restrictions cause a lot of difficulties. As I said, we are a walk-in shop, and people will get frustrated, though we have an excellent clientele, we consider friends more than clients, and they are being very supportive. It is hard to cut with masks on clients and for us to wear one for several hours a day. And it will most likely impact our incomes.”

Nancy Smith, owner and stylist at Shear Expressions, said she and her employees are also looking forward to reopening on Friday.

“I have been working for 35 years this April, and this is the first time I’ve been off this long.”

Smith’s staff has also been very busy preparing for the reopening, making sure everything is clean and sanitized and ready to go and will be sanitizing their areas between each client.

“We also have two air purifiers that we’ll be running,” she noted.

“We’re gonna just take it one day at a time and adjust to our clients’ needs. There will be a lot of nice new hairstyles to do with all the long hair coming in the door.”

Unlike some other businesses, restaurants were permitted to continue offering some services via take-out meals during the yellow phase. Now, the move to the green phase will allow them to reopen their dining rooms, though at a limited capacity and with a laundry list of guidelines.

“The preparations are very hectic,” Jami DeGroat, owner and manager of Casey’s Restaurant and Lounge, said.

“I really wish I could have just happy things to say, but it is all so very nerve-racking right now.”

They have been working diligently on cleaning and sanitizing the entire business, have added some heavy-duty sanitation products to their normal ones, and have even hired a cleaning company to help them make sure everything is as clean and sanitary as possible, according to DeGroat.

While they are happy to be able to reopen, DeGroat said the restrictions are causing some difficulties already.

“Not only are the owners and employees confused, they are afraid to make mistakes. As far as opening Friday without clear guidelines, I am very nervous and I have a lot of questions I cannot get answered. It is hard to lead my team when I’m as confused as they are. As much as I would like to be back running full staff and full hours, we just seem to keep running into a wall.”

DeGroat said staffing is currently a problem, as some employees have stated they will not be returning. However, they still plan to move forward and are even doing a mock opening on Thursday night to practice how they are going to wait on tables and space them.

“We miss all of our customers dearly, and we are doing everything we can to bring them back to a happy, safe, stress-free environment. I guess we are just hoping for the best, and we will deal with every new situation as it comes.”

Ava Rumpler, owner of Bella Cucina, reported they have been preparing for reopening since the initial shut down occurred.

“We knew it would be a different situation when we were allowed to reopen,” she noted.

“We have done a complete deep clean of the entire restaurant, including the kitchens and prep areas. We have continued to work with limited menu and staff for curbside pick up and grateful to all those who continued to support Bella Cucina throughout these uncertain times.”

Bella Cucina will be opening at 50% capacity and adhering to government and CDC guidelines with the overall safety and health of their customers and employees as their number one priority. They are also recommending reservations for the foreseeable future.

“We are looking forward to reopening and providing the dine-in experience again. We appreciate everyone’s understanding of the limited ability to accommodate everyone at this time.”


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