Local businesses and organizations adjust hours of operation for the population explosion

INTERNET PHOTO - A photo of a prior solar eclipse.

Like it or not, the total solar eclipse is coming, and with it, thousands of people.

One way or another, Crook County businesses and organizations are gearing up for the influx of visitors passing through and considering what that might mean for their hours of operation.

"We've heard the spectrum," said Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Casey Kaiser. "Some businesses are shortening their hours or closing and other businesses are actually extending their hours."

The Eclipse Task Force recommends that businesses that provide non-essential services or services that may not directly benefit from the extra traffic consider having diminished hours or closing on Monday, Aug. 21, Kaiser said, primarily due to concerns about traffic and the safety of people getting to and from work on those days.

"All non-essential departments in the county are closed (Aug. 21), and all of the essential departments such as the police department, the sheriff's office, myself with the health department, we will all still be operating normally," said Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Vicky Ryan.

The Lutheran Community Services office will be closed that day, but their hotline will operate. The Circuit Court will be open even though the Crook County Courthouse will be closed. The Crook County Library and the Crook County Health Department will both be closed Aug. 21.

However, emergency service providers are planning to be out in full force.

"We are up staffing on all of our shifts, and we're going to put on all the resources we have, so from career, volunteer and our part-time, we will have as many people on as we can," said Crook County Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Matt Smith.

That Monday is an optional work day for employees at Prineville City Hall.

"We're not sure at this time whether or not we're going to open the doors," City Recorder Lisa Morgan said earlier this week. "If we don't have enough staff that can make it through the congestion that they're anticipating, if it is as bad they say it's going to be, then we probably won't open the doors, but we may have a few available by phone."

The City Council meeting has been rescheduled from Aug. 22 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.

The Prineville Soroptimist Senior Center will be closed Friday, Aug. 18 through Tuesday, Aug. 22. Senior Center Coordinator Melody Kendall said she didn't want seniors driving in all of the traffic, and she did not want her home delivery drivers trying to go back and forth all over town delivering meals.

However, just because the Senior Center is closed doesn't mean seniors who rely on the center's meals will have to go without.

"Because I don't want my home delivery people in particular going that long without anything, on the Thursday before, we're going to send out three meals instead of one," Kendall said.

Additionally, seniors who come to the Senior Center for lunch on Thursday, Aug. 17, will have the opportunity to preorder extra meals ahead of time.

In anticipation of an increased demand for health care services the week around the solar eclipse, some St. Charles clinics will offer walk-in appointments for extended hours. St. Charles Family Care Prineville as well as clinics in Bend, Redmond and Madras will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 16-23.

The Mosaic Medical clinic in Prineville will remain open with regular business hours and services.

The Crook County School District Office, schools and departments will be closed to the public on Monday, Aug. 21; however, some staff will be working if they are able to get to work.

Summer School programs will be closed Aug. 21-22. The district's summer lunch program will be closed on Monday, and possibly Tuesday. They ask high school athletes to keep in touch with their coaches regarding the possibility of canceling practice on Monday and/or Tuesday.

Although camping is not allowed on school district property, people will be allowed to use their fields for viewing the eclipse, but parking lots will be locked and buildings will be closed to the public.

The Forest Service has reserved the Crook County Middle School and areas near Crooked River Elementary to be used as a fire camp Aug. 16-23. The field at CRE and the Ward Rhoden Stadium will be unavailable for eclipse viewing.

Due to the anticipated increase in traffic, garbage collection for all Prineville Disposal customers in Crook County will begin at midnight starting Monday, Aug. 14 and running through Friday, Aug. 25. Collection days will not change, they will just be earlier.

Customers must remember to leave extra space with parked vehicles that normally might not be there during a regular schedule.

For rural customers who have drive-in service and don't want the trucks driving up to their house in the early hours, they should set their carts out at the end of their driveways for pickup. 

For commercial customers who will be affected by the extra tourism and are trying to plan ahead, Prineville Disposal is offering a discount on extra pickups if they are scheduled early. This will allow for better routing and less time spent on the roads.

Other businesses owners are deciding which schedules will work best for them, and customers should check in with them for details.

Kaiser said some of the local banks and credit unions are adjusting their hours and some may even be closed for the eclipse.

Local restaurant owners may also make some adjustments such as simplifying their menu and offering grab-and-go specials that are easy to serve in a higher volume, Kaiser said.

"Both restaurants will be doing an Eclipse Menu, a smaller version of our regular menu," said Jim Roths, who owns Dillon's Grill and Club Pioneer. "We are running the abbreviated menu to speed up service and to consolidate ordering so we can dedicate our limited space to our key menu items."

Additionally, Club Pioneer will not be taking reservations during the eclipse weekend.

Roths said he is bringing in additional storage for dry goods and frozen products since they are expecting to be limited in being able to get their regular deliveries. 

"Some of the vendors are 'playing it safe' and keeping their trucks off the road during the eclipse week, but that just leaves the local restaurants on their own to order in advance and find a way to store products," Roths said.

The chamber office will be open to serve visitors and local businesses during the eclipse rush.

"I'm on tap to offer extended hours if it appears that the need is there," Kaiser said, adding that the chamber is on its summer schedule and is open for a few hours each Saturday.

He said there could be issues with data connectivity and cell phone reception, which could make it difficult for businesses to process credit card payments. He advises shoppers to come prepared to pay with cash and for businesses to be prepared to manually process credit cards.

"There may be no issues at all with that, but just in light of being prudent, those are some of the things that we suggested," Kaiser said.

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