Dinner bell rings once again at Bluebell

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    BluebellSTORY – The Bluebell Cafe and Country Store is once again ringing the dinner bell thanks to a judge’s ruling last week regarding their use of a well near the store.
    The ruling is one page in a two year story that has brought the local landmark to the brink of closing their doors.
    According to Lori Carly, owner of the store, the health department discovered two years ago that the store had not been turning in EPA samples from the water used from a well. She explained that they only use the well water for their bathroom and dish washing. She also stated that she had been told by a health department employee prior to this that she didn’t have to turn in samples because she was cooking with bottled water.
    This inquiry by the health department shed light on the fact that she did not have filtered, chlorinated water available for people to wash their hands. She stated that she bleaches her dish water, but there was no way for her to provide filtered, chlorinated water in the bathroom.
    The solution offered to her was that she dig a new well that was built to EPA specifications. Construction of an EPA well would cost thousands, but she started the process while appealing her case.
    The community held fundraisers to help Carly dig the well that would ultimately keep her store open. She explained that Bluebell Cafe and Country Store is more than jut a store. She pointed out that the facility is often used for community events, citing a recent free flu clinic held recently.
    They also provide a venue to local musicians who gather every Saturday night for a jam session. The music runs the gambit of styles and she stated that the jam session is featured on PBS at least once a year.
    They also play host to the Story Days festival, which draws hundreds of visitors to the community. She added that they support several charities and participate in most fundraisers in the area.
    She is also a haven for travelers, as well as visitors to the many nature trails in the county. She also provides a shuttle service to hikers and mountain bikers.
    Carly’s efforts to satisfy the health department’s wishes had fallen short of their expectations and she was told last month to close her kitchen, which she did November 30. The closure of her kitchen was a devastating blow to her business, which she didn’t think she could overcome.
    In a final attempt to save her business she made a trip to Little Rock last Thursday for a hearing. She stated that a judge ruled that she could use the well she was currently using, but she did have to make drastic improvements to the structure. She stated that she had 30 days to install new casing inside the well and pour a concrete slab around the outside of the well. She is also required to install a filtration system, as well as a chlorination system.
    Carly explained that it will still be expensive, but will still cost less than the EPA system would have. She stated that she expects to have the new casing, concrete slab and filtration system in by the end of next week.
    Carly seemed optimistic while talking about what has transpired, but admitted that this was her final opportunity to keep her kitchen open. She stated that she was told the water must meet EPA requirements at the end of the 30 day period, or the kitchen would be shut down again.
    “He told me that he wouldn’t shut me down this time. That I would close the doors if I couldn’t do this.” Carly stated.
    Bluebell Cafe and Country Store is located in downtown Story on the intersection of Highway 27 and Highway 298.

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