Jennifer Welchert gently folded strips of aluminum foil over the head of a client Thursday evening at Shear Attraction salon in Fort Calhoun. After a busy day, Welchert did not have much to say about the proposed closing of the nuclear power plant outside of town. Yet, Welchert knew the closure would affect her entire family.
“It was about 12:30 p.m. when my husband sent me a text. I thought, ‘Oh, it is true!’” Welchert said as she worked blonde dye into her client’s hair.
Her husband has worked at the power plant for about five years. Right now no one is sure what will happen if OPPD votes to close the plant next month.
“We don’t know whether he’ll be out of a job or if he’ll be transferred,” Welchert said.
Gateway Development Corporation Executive Director Lisa Scheve said Thursday that the plant employs up to 700 people; with at least 150 of them living in Washington County.
Scheve said the proposed timeline of the plant’s closure allows officials some time to put an emergency action plan in place to retain at least some of the jobs—especially those living in the county.
“Whatever we can do to keep those employees and keep them local, we're going to try to do that,” Scheve said. “Not one business is going to define who we are. So, we want to be able to find out how we can get to that next chapter.”