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Yard sale comes up short

Residents said heat and closer scrutiny of food vendors by the health department hampered a popular neighborhood July 4 event

Residents said heat and closer scrutiny of food vendors by the health department hampered a popular neighborhood July 4 event

July 05, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Scorching temperatures and heavy enforcement by the Washington County Health Department turned a popular Fourth of July tradition into a dud, residents of the Long Meadow Road neighborhood said Thursday.

By noon, vendors and residents participating in the 22nd annual Mile-Long Yard Sale began packing up their items as people who came to browse the goods got in their cars and drove away, residents said.

By 1 p.m., the number of homes still participating in the event were few and far between, and most of the shoppers had gone home.

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"The people just stopped coming by 12 o'clock because it was so hot," said Jean Stouffer, who was selling items in the front yard of Joyce Powell's home on the corner of Paradise Drive and Long Meadow Road.

Thursday's high temperature was 98 degrees, with a heat index of 107 degrees.

Stouffer and Powell said regulations by the Health Department kept many people from taking part in the event.

In past years, residents sold food including hot dogs and hamburgers and cold drinks in addition to merchandise.

Health Department officials said Wednesday they would crack down on food sales this year for sanitary reasons and require residents to pay $50 for a special event permit to sell food.

Health inspector Jeff Reed said there was no fee for nonprofit groups. He said the department issued about 20 permits as of Wednesday afternoon.

Laurie Bucher, the health department's director of environmental health, said the yard sale has grown so much the department had to enforce the regulations to keep people from getting sick.

"It's more like a three- or four-mile yard sale with vendors selling food every tenth house," Bucher said. "It got to a point where we just can't ignore it anymore."

She said health inspectors would make sure vendors and property owners selling food were cooking meat at the proper temperatures and washing their hands and utensils, among other sanitary regulations.

"I know if I was out there shopping, I'd want to make sure what I'm eating and what my kids are eating are safe," Bucher said.

If people were selling food without a permit but met the department's regulations, they would be issued a permit on the spot and could pay for it another day, Bucher said Wednesday. If vendors didn't meet the regulations, they would be told to correct the situation before they could receive the permit.

Bucher said the department had the authority to shut vendors down and fine them.

Jean Colas said he bought a permit for the first time this year, but it turned out to be useless because of low attendence.

"I'm ready to tell the Health Department to give me the money back," Colas said.

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