ELY, Nev. (AP) -- Though granted a temporary reprieve, Ely officials have already begun planning how to fill the void when the town's only department store closes next year.
JC Penney Corp. announced in July that it would close its Ely store in October.
Appeals to the Plano, Texas-based company by Gov. Kenny Guinn and members of the state's congressional delegation bought the town some extra time to figure out shopping alternatives for the 4,000 residents of this struggling mining town.
The company twice postponed the closing date, now set for July 31, 2004. In announcing the extension, the corporation also said it planned to establish a catalog outlet in Ely to continue to serve local customers.
Located 320 miles east of Reno, the nearest other shopping outlet for Ely residents looking for clothing or household items is Elko, 180 miles away.
Ely officials also fear losing the store will hinder its efforts to attract new businesses and professional people.
Mayor Bob Miller said a local committee has been formed and will meet weekly to discuss options and progress.
On Wednesday, representatives from state and federal agencies will meet with the local group at the Bristlecone Convention Center to provide ideas and assistance.
"We want to bring public and private resources to Ely that will help in securing a strong retail presence downtown," Bob Shriver, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, told the Ely Times.
"Keeping Penney's open is the first priority, but we also want to explore other realistic options," he said.
Opened in 1910, the Ely store was the 24th opened by the retail chain, which was originally called The Golden Rule.