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Area residents ponder economy

March 19, 2001

Area residents ponder economy



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

As the stock market took a nosedive this week, President Bush continued to sell his tax cut plan as a response to a general economic slowdown.

The stumbling economy, combined with a recent increase in energy prices and a local rash of layoffs, has many Tri-State area residents thinking about their future.

In an informal survey Saturday, some said they are beginning to feel the effects.

"Everything's high," said Sherri Krechtel, 39, of Zullinger, Pa., as she looked up from the receipt for a prescription. "Everything has gone up, except the wages. The economy, it has really changed."

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Krechtel, who cleans for a Waynesboro, Pa., manufacturing company, has seen the company go from daily overtime to layoffs in the space of a year.

"You work and you work and it seems like you don't go anywhere," she said.

As a Coca-Cola merchandiser, Ben Ros makes sure area grocery stores don't run out of the soft drink. He's noticed that many of the back rooms aren't keeping as much stock on hand lately.

"You can tell it's slowing down. It worries me," said Ros, 26, of Boonsboro.

Mary Gregory, 46, of Hagerstown, said she has had to cut her spending to meet rising costs of basic necessities such as gas.

"People are stepping back a little bit," she said.

When people spend less, that affects the livelihood of people like Francina Campbell, 53, who owns Pretzels Plus at the Wayne Heights Mall in Waynesboro, Pa.

While Campbell is keeping a close eye on the economy, she is ready to roll with the punches.

"I don't think it's a permanent thing. If I thought that I shouldn't be in business," she said.

Business has also been slow for Bonnie Carbaugh, 42, a motel manager who lives in Waynesboro, Pa.

"Business has been slow because everybody is worried and no one's traveling. I try not to think about it," said Carbaugh.

Sometimes even having a good job is not enough, said Leonard Bryant, 56, of Hedgesville, W.Va.

"I do think about it just before I go to bed, what with one child in college and getting married and another ready to start college," Bryant said.

Juan, 45, and Yolanda Tayler, 44, of Hagerstown both have good jobs. He's a doctor and she works for an international banking firm.

"It's the future, with retirement and college," Yolanda Tayler said. The couple's two teenage children are nearing college age so they're concerned about college savings accounts as well as their retirement funds.

"It's hard on young families nowadays," said Joe Gardenhour, 34, of Waynesboro, Pa., who was at the Wayne Heights Mall with his two children ages 9 and 4.

With her husband's one income to support the family of five, Wendy Ryan, 38, of Fairfield, Pa. said the shaky economy makes her a little nervous.

"It's on our minds. An overall uneasiness when you read the paper," she said.

Amos Peacemaker, 75, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he is concerned about the price of gas and the cost of home heating fuel.

"Now they're talking about raising the water rates 400 percent or so. All that surely impacts on how you live your life," he said.

Some people don't mind seeing the economy slow down. One of them is retired teacher Herb Burgess, 73, of Hagerstown.

"It tends to deflate. I'm looking for interest rates to go down," he said.

Likewise, Theresa Litten, 38, of Maugansville, said she hopes falling interest rates will allow her to refinance her mortgage at a better rate.

"I've been watching," she said.

With lower mortgage rates, people are still building houses, which keeps drywall installer Terry Feiser in business.

"As long as I get my tax cut," said Feiser, 34, of Fairplay, referring to Bush's plan.

Others, however, were blaming Bush for the economic slowdown.

"I think that business of Bush talking about the downturn didn't help any at all," said Jacque Goodnow, 75, of Hagerstown.

Frank West, 73, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he has always fared better under Democratic administrations.

"I don't trust this man. He doesn't have enough experience. I hope I'm wrong," he said.

The concerns of Paula Cope, 28, of Hagerstown, are also political.

"I'm concerned that Bush is running it. Clinton made tons of jobs available. My concern is what the new president will do," she said.

"As far as the state of the economy is concerned, the politicians will make it look however they want it to look anyway," said Terry Johnson, 50-something, of Falling Waters, W.Va.

Many people said they aren't worrying just yet.

"I think the economy is in pretty good shape. With that, comes satisfaction and no worries, which translates into relaxing you," said Robert Daniels, 76, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Gail Wolfe, 50, of Mercersburg, Pa., said the bullish economy of the past five years simply couldn't sustain itself.

"This is not surprising. It's just painful. But it'll pass," said the chief financial officer at Mercersburg Academy. Those who are invested for retirement in the long haul won't be hurt.

"It's just disappointing when I get my monthly statements," he said.

William Staley, 57, of Cearfoss, said changes in the economy haven't affected him or his family.

"No. I'm not too concerned about it. We've had ups and downs before. We ride 'em out," said Staley, a vocational teacher.

"I'm not worried at all about the economy. We believe that God has everything in his hands and that gives us serenity," said Frances Anderson, 65, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

- Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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