As mayor preaches optimism, town faces "funeral" atmosphere after nuclear abandonment

As mayor preaches optimism, town faces "funeral" atmosphere after nuclear abandonment

CHAPIN, SC (WIS) - Fifteen miles south of V.C. Summer, the Doza Rizen Cafe is hurting.

"There are no words, really, to describe the feeling," said co-owner Robin Willette.

The swift abandonment of a nuclear expansion project has already been felt at the Chapin café and beyond.

"Many of our customers had rental houses," Willette said. "They told me, you know, now that they have five to ten rental houses empty right now."

In fact, Willette said her eatery crafted its business model with the nuclear site in mind.

"Especially on the food truck. We specifically did our food truck for the nuclear plant," she said.

The food truck was built in Augusta and implemented back in March. Willette, and her daughter Brianna, said it was a money and time-consuming process.

"We actually had really good business out there," Brianna said of the nuclear plant. "They supported us very well."

Now, they're reassessing and hoping remaining workers at the existing reactor, Unit 1, can sustain it.

"So far, it's been really slow out there. There's not any people out there really anymore. I, personally, have had to lay a couple employees off," Robin said.

Just outside town limits, Amy Dantzler, who runs the Original Landscape Supply, is also worried.

"Normally, on the way into work, throughout the day, traffic is severely congested out here on 76. It's hard to get my delivery systems in and out," she said. "Over the last few days, traffic has been minimal."

Right now, she's actually seeing a bit of a spike in business but for the wrong reason.

"I've had numerous customers that have called wanting to order supplies to refresh their yard to go ahead and prepare and get their house on the market," Dantzler said.

Despite the hard times, the business owners, and the town's mayor, Skip Wilson, say Chapin will survive.

"We know the impact's going to be great in the town, but we're doing everything we can to help prepare for it and offer support and resources for this," Wilson said.

The town said it's working to get the word out on upcoming job fairs. Information and resources available to laid off workers will be posted on the town's website and Facebook page.

If you'd like to lend help or offer resources – or if you need help – Wilson says you can call town hall.

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