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Prineville gathering discusses solar eclipse impacts

Businesses meet to talk details, expectations

Crook County discusses solar eclipse impacts

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Crook County Foundation held a "What's Brewing? Solar Eclipse" panel Wednesday evening to discuss the expected business impacts of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse on the area.

Business owner Melanie Marlow said that for example, you cannot order ice anymore for that timeframe, because it is sold out. 

"The hotels and motels have been filled for months, even years," Marlow said. "I have an Airbnb, and it's been booked for a year and a half."

Panel speakers talked about the large eclipse music festival expected to draw some 30,000 people to Big Summit Prairie, on private property in the Ochoco National Forest, as well as more general fire, traffic and health concerns. 

"If you're going to be out viewing the eclipse, make sure you have the viewing glasses, because you can burn your retina and you can burn your eye if you look directly at the sun," said Vicky Ryan, Crook County's emergency preparedness coordinator. "Even though the totality is two minutes and two seconds, the sun is still going to be peeking around the moon, so we are still going to glimpse some of that very intense light coming around the moon."

Panelists advised local businesses to possibly extend hours, restaurants to downsize their menus, residents to finish grocery shopping and fill up on fuel days before the eclipse, and to be sensitive to the fact there will be a variety of people from different countries and cultures in the area.

They also said since hotels are booked, local residents should consider renting out spare bedrooms or trailers.

Prineville is expecting thousands of people to come directly through the town, and they expect consistent bumper-to-to bumper traffic. One local business owner, Greg Miller, said this all will affect any business that has something to offer. 

"Those people are going to start coming through town on Aug.15 and 16, and they're going to stay until Aug. 23 or so," Miller said. "They're going to be here in this area for a week, literally thousands and thousands of people."

Ryan said some of the biggest challenges will be the traffic and cell service. 

"The cell towers can only handle so much traffic, and with hundreds of thousands of additional people in our area, it is going to overload our cell towers," said Ryan. "We are already predicting an interruption in cell service and internet service."

Still, overall, the people of Prineville and Central Oregon are keeping a positive attitude about the eclipse. 

"Let's show them what Prineville is about," Miller said. "Let's show them this is a small town on the way to your event, but we can take care of whatever your needs are."


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