By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — “Honk if you don’t like these roadblocks,” read a sign Lauren Waldron, The Thrifty Shopper owner, held while standing at the corner of Sixth Street and Broadway Friday afternoon.
On an average Friday, Waldron can expect to make a little more than $300 at her store, 606 E. Broadway. During the scheduled June road block outside of the Logansport City Building she made $6.90.
Waldron opened her store in September and only experienced one road block last year. When road blocks began this year, she saw how drastically they changed her sales.
“I put everything I had to open this place,” Waldron said. “Two of my biggest days of the week are a bust with the road block and as a new business, I can’t shut my store down for those days.”
Before Salvation Army volunteers set up their road block Friday, Waldron told the workers she would be holding up a sign while they were out there.
“I really don’t want people to view me as mean or that I don’t like fundraisers, because that’s not it at all,” Waldron said. “It’s just not fair for one group to benefit and take out half the downtown. Some people avoid the downtown when the road block is at this location.”
The road blocks take place the second weekend of every month from March until April, according to Chris Armstrong, Logansport Community Development Director. Armstrong said she had received a phone call from Waldron and was informed her business had gone down.
“I feel terribly if it truly does cause hardship on the local businesses, but at the same time, I would hate to stop it because it helps the groups raising money,” Armstrong said. “It really does help these smaller organizations.”
Any non-profit can apply to have a road block, Armstrong said. She said she has files on road blocks going back to at least 2006.
“We do want the proceeds to remain in the county because we want it to be a local event,” Armstrong said. “This year we had at least 16 organizations apply, but we really try to spread it out so we don’t upset anyone.”
The road block location was moved briefly last year to Third Street and Broadway, but the city received feedback from volunteers saying it wasn’t safe because of the increasing speed limit, Armstrong said.
Separately from the protest, Waldron had a petition drawn up from a local lawyer and placed it in her store. Within a week of having the petition, Waldron had gathered 150 signatures, she said. Minglin Jewelers also has a petition, though the jewelry store was not involved in the sign protest.
Angie Minglin, co-owner at Minglin Jewelers, said Waldron’s business had been noticeably affected. For many years Minglin Jewelers was the only retail store on the block, but has always been affected by the road block, Minglin said.
Minglin, the Logansport Art Association president and a Logan’s Landing board member, said she supports all the organizations.
“Our support is still for all the organizations. I support them all either by working or volunteering for them,” Minglin said. “I don’t think they should necessarily should be banned. I just think there were already a lot and they added one at the beginning and one at the end of the year.”
Safety is a concern also, she said.
“We’ve had many accidents and some near deaths in front of our store,” Minglin said. “I think they’re unsafe.”
One of the volunteers for Salvation Army, Brad Manning, stood in the street Friday afternoon.
“I don’t have a problem with her (Waldron) holding the sign,” Manning said. “We are well aware of the danger of standing in the street.”
If the location of the road blocks moved to another location, like the east side of town, it might help, Manning said.
“If we could cut back the number of road blocks or rotate them to various locations, it could help,” Minglin said. “We don’t understand why it has to be only one block that is affected.”
Logansport Board of Works will continue to look in to the issue, Armstrong said.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Armstrong said. “This is something we will keep looking in to. We’re just not sure where to put it where it’s feasible and safe for everyone.”
Amie Sites is a staff reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.