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'It's just another day' for those who must work

December 26, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Cows still need to be milked, fires have to be put out, vehicles need gas, and people have to be cared for and fed even on Christmas day.

For many in the Tri-State area, the holiday was like any other normal working day of the week.

"It's just another day. Very few of us have off. Everybody works as usual because the farmers don't stop milking," said Vernon Wilson, who hauls milk for Clouse Trucking Inc. of Carlisle, Pa.

Wilson spent Christmas Day on the road traveling to five Franklin County, Pa., dairy farms to pick up the milk and then deliver it to a processing plant in Laurel, Md.


But the day was more special than usual since Wilson's wife, Jennifer, decided to ride along. She didn't seem to mind spending Christmas Day in a milk truck.

"As long as I'm with him, I don't care," she said.

Several who couldn't get home for the holidays or have no spouses or children volunteered to work Christmas Day so that other employees could have off.

"I volunteered for this shift," said Mark Culbertson, who started his day at 5:30 a.m. at Hess self-serve gas station on Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg.

Single with no children, Culbertson said he agreed to work in the morning so that other employees could spend time with their families. But he said his mother agreed to hold Christmas dinner until he got off work.

Washington County Airport's passenger terminal was empty and quiet Thursday afternoon except for the friendly chatter between Dennis Katchur and Yancy Stamper, the only two working at the USAir Express counter.

With three outbound and three inbound flights scheduled, the airline employees had their busy times during the day, Katchur said.

Since his children are grown, Katchur said he volunteered for the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift to give others a chance to be with their families.

At The Liquor Locker Inc. on Dual Highway in Hagerstown, owner Jeffrey Buczkowski said none of his employees had to work on the holiday.

"It's a volunteer day. Nobody is made to work today," he said, though two of his employees reported to work to cover the store's 10 a.m. to midnight hours.

With few liquor stores open in the area on Christmas Day, Buczkowski said business was steady.

Some Tri-State residents didn't have much choice when it came to working on the holiday.

Doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, air traffic controllers, taxi cab drivers, farmers, telephone operators and newspaper reporters, among numerous other occupations, put in a full day.

"It's just the way our shift works out. I've worked quite a few Christmases," said Donald Shirley, one of seven full-time firefighters and medics in Martinsburg, W.Va., who were cleaning up from an afternoon fire.

Since he's on duty from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 p.m. Friday, Shirley said he got his holiday time in with his family on Christmas Eve.

Pennsylvania State Police in the Chambersburg barracks said they had a choice between working Christmas Day or New Year's Day.

Open 24 hours-a-day, all of the employees at Sheetz convenience store in Waynesboro, Pa., worked on Christmas Day, but they were scheduled for short shifts.

"It's a lot of fun. You get to see a lot of people you don't see normally," said Judy Ott, who cheerfully wished each customer a merry Christmas after ringing up their orders on the cash register.

The Waynesboro store was packed at 10:30 a.m. Christmas morning with several customers getting gas, picking up cigarettes or other incidentals, or taking advantage of the free coffee.

Open restaurants - including most fast food places - were hard to come by in the Tri-State area on the holiday, so many found their way to Heatherfield's Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn Martinsburg.

"We're a hotel and we're going to be open no matter what, so since we're open, we thought we might as well do the meal, too," said Pam Reid, restaurant manager.

Restaurant chefs kept the buffet filled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and expected to serve about 300 people, Reid said.

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