Ely residents get reprieve to keep J.C. Penney store open

ELY, Nev. (AP) -- For the second time in a month, the closing date of Nevada's oldest J.C. Penney store has been extended.

The Ely store, scheduled to close Jan. 10, now will stay open through July 31, 2004, company officials said.

The store originally had been scheduled to close Oct. 25, but the date was pushed back to Jan. 10 when a community outcry followed the company's announcement about the store's fate in late July.

It's the only Penney store targeted for closure. Company officials have said the decision to close it was based on profitability.

Opened in 1910, it's the last department store in the struggling mining town of 4,000 located 320 miles east of Reno. Without it, Ely residents would have to drive 180 miles to Elko for clothing and other items.

Dan Leoni, manager of the Ely store, said the corporate office in Plano, Texas, gave no reason for the change of plans. The office could not be reached for comment.

Ely Mayor Bob Miller attributed the latest extension to an effort to save the store by residents, Gov. Kenny Guinn and Nevada's congressional delegation.

"We've had people write letters to Penney's and we're thankful to those former Ely residents who now live in other parts of Nevada who also wrote letters," Miller told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

A town hall meeting is set for Sept. 17 in Ely on the issue. Residents and local and state officials will discuss how to save the store and how to replace it if the closure occurs.

"(The latest extension) is a short-term fix. We need a long-term fix," Miller said.

The Ely store was the 24th opened by the chain, which was originally called The Golden Rule.


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