Sub Shop at Parkade Center welcomes return of government workers

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 6:37 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 18, 2013

COLUMBIA  — It's been a long 16 days for the Sub Shop at Parkade Center.

The sandwich shop noticed a significant drop in business after federal workers at Parkade stopped going to work on Oct. 1.

U.S. Department of Agriculture employees work in the Parkade Center, and the Sub Shop relies heavily on them, as well as students attending the branch of Moberly Area Community College, for business.

"With half our clientele gone, that's half our business," Chris Olson, an employee at Sub Shop, said on Thursday.

Olson recalled one shift he worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that had only four customers. The shop has had to throw out more soup and food than usual in the workers' absence, he said.

Columbia's federal employees returned to the reality of work days Thursday morning.

The transition back to normality was simple for the Sub Shop, but left federal employees with backed up work.

Charlie Rahm, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, said workers were unable to answer emails or phone calls for the duration of the shutdown. Meetings were canceled, appointments were canceled, and contracts were put on hold.

"You just have to jump back in and pick up where you left off," Rahm said.

Employees were spending the day answering phone calls, responding to emails, rescheduling appointments and meetings and resetting project deadlines, he said.

The conservation service works with farmers and ranchers to improve and preserve the land and other natural resources. Because of the shutdown, the agency was unable to provide assistance, Rahm said.

State government workers weren't furloughed, but they weren't all free from effects of the shutdown.

Some Missouri Department of Conservation employees, as well as Missouri Soil and Water Conservation District employees, share office space with the conservation service, Rahm said, and since those offices were closed the state workers were locked out as well. 

In southern Missouri, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways reopened Thursday, allowing canoe concessionaires to try and salvage what is left of the fall floating season.

"We're open today, finally," Shane Van Steenis, the owner of Harvey's Alley Spring Canoe Rental, said on Thursday morning. "I haven't had any calls yet, but hopefully I do."

Van Steenis said that even though optimal fall floating conditions have passed, the Current and Jacks Fork rivers are still fit for floating.

"It's less popular now than it was two weeks ago," he said. "But the leaves are getting pretty now, though."

Jack Suntrup contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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