Local business owners glad for ruling

September 15, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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Lee McDonald, owner of R.W. McDonald & Sons in Center Township, said it was unfair that big-box stores were allowed to sell appliances and other items while he was not. He called Monday's ruling by a federal judge “fair and just.”

Local businesses that took a stand against Gov. Tom Wolf's actions during the coronavirus pandemic by participating in a county-led lawsuit against him are pleased that U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV ruled in their favor.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Lee McDonald, owner and president of R.W. McDonald and Sons in Center Township. “I'm ecstatic with what came down because it is fair and just.”

McDonald said it was unfair that big box stores were allowed to sell appliances and other items while he was not, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended allowing stores such as McDonald's to remain open.

“It was really difficult,” he said. “The CDC said we are essential, but the governor said we weren't.”

He said consumers bought large appliances at big-box home improvement stores or in Ohio during the shutdown, which began March 21 and ended at various times across the state as Wolf moved counties to partial reopening and full reopening with some restrictions.

The run on appliances at stores deemed “essential” during the shutdown reduced the amount of inventory available to McDonald when his store was finally allowed to reopen in early May.

Instead of asking customers which color or finish they want on a new refrigerator as usual, McDonald said the only appliances now available to customers are those on display in his store.

“It's almost impossible to get any inventory,” he said.

Regarding customer furniture orders, McDonald said some companies cannot provide an item until May.

Many others are saying January is the quickest they can deliver furniture ordered by customers.

“People don't know that,” McDonald said. “It's just crazy.”

Nancy Gifford, owner of Double Image Styling Salon in Butler Township, also is pleased with Stickman's ruling.

“It says what we've been feeling from the beginning, that it was unconstitutional to keep us from making a living,” Gifford said.

While she is still studying the 66-page ruling, Gifford hopes Wolf likely will think twice before ordering massive shutdowns in the future.

“I think this will set a precedent for our state for future decisions,” she said.

Gifford said some customers are still afraid to come into the shop to get their hair cut and styled.

“But I think we are starting to get back to a sense of normalcy,” she said.

Gifford is proud to have participated in the lawsuit.

“I'm glad I took a stand for what I believe in,” she said.

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Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs

Paula Grubbs is a Butler County native who has been with the Butler and Cranberry Eagle newspapers since June 2000. Grubbs has covered the Mars School District and Middlesex Township for over 20 years with the Eagle and her former employer, the Cranberry Journal. She also covers Adams Township, Evans City and Mars in addition to events and incidents throughout Southwestern Butler County as assigned. Grubbs has taken the lead at the Cranberry Eagle in reporting on shale gas development, which has been a hotly debated topic in the recent past, both locally and nationally. A 1979 graduate of Butler Senior High School and a 1994 graduate of Geneva College, Grubbs has won a Golden Quill and four Keystone state awards, plus an award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Grubbs enjoys following the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers, volunteers with the Connoquenessing Creek Cleanup each summer, and loves spending time outdoors and bird watching at her Penn Township home. Grubbs is the daughter of James R. Davis Sr., of Center Township, and the late Maxine Davis. She has two grown children, Jacqueline and Thomas.