Correspondent Mark Shephard visited the Elkhart Youth and Community Center this week and asked, "Winter 2014 has been hard on us and the economy. Now that spring is in sight, what do you most look forward to doing, and do you think the economy will grow greener with the arrival of the new season?"
Greg Stone, small business owner, Elkhart:
"What I look most forward to is the ice coming off the water and us being able to get in and start scuba diving. I do own Hart City Scuba, so most people are usually out a little bit by now, but because of the cold winter we haven’t been able to get out and enjoy the underwater world locally, so as soon as it starts breaking out will give us the opportunity to go out and visit our local lakes and quarries, and the Great Lakes as well." Follow-up question: Do you think that spring is going to help with people spending money? "Well, I sure hope so as a business owner, because it has been a long winter. But I think so. I think as the weather warms up, people are going to want to get out and start enjoying the environment and so forth, and I think part of that is spending money and doing things with their families."
Peter Graber, development director Mennonite Mission Network, Elkhart:
"I look forward to being outdoors more, whether it’s walking or working in the yard, or whatever. I have no idea about the affect on the economy. Spring comes every year. I imagine that whatever is normal for this time of year will happen. I don’t know that this spring will be any different than other springs." Follow-up question: Do you plan on spending any more money than you did in winter? "Not particularly. Last spring I had two weddings to spend on. I won’t be spending that kind of money this year."
Cindy Norman, substitute teacher, Elkhart:
"I’m anxious to get out and work in the yard and cut the grass. Just that smell of fresh grass is wonderful. We’ve done OK. I substitute teach, and there’s always need for that, and my husband is a self-employed contractor, and he’s kept busy through this time also, so we’re doing OK. I read in the paper this week that unemployment is lower than it has been in several years, so that’s a good sign, and I’ve seen help wanted signs out also, so it looks better."
Thomas Cataldo, retired salesman, Elkhart:
"Well, first of all I look forward to getting out in my yard and my garden, and getting some of that going. As far as the economy, it should pick up. I think after being holed up all winter, people are ready to get out and do things and spend some money."
Roderick Williams, machinist, Elkhart:
"Just being able to get out and about — I can go and run. I prefer running outside than on a treadmill. I don’t know if people have any money to spend the way the economy is. I can’t say. The economy is not like it was. Things have gotten better even with myself. I’m working two jobs, where as three years ago I was looking for a job. I don’t plan on spending it, but I always spend it anyway. You can’t get around it."
Alisha Brownewell, bank officer, Granger:
"Definitely, I’m interested in getting the kids out to play, taking them on walks, getting them in the yard, that kind of thing. But definitely the economy took a hit because people weren’t getting out of their houses. The days that we had tons of snow, you could drive by the mall and the lots were empty, but the days that were calling for no snow, the mall was completely packed. So you could see right there the difference between a snow day and a non-snow day at the University Park Mall."