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Town and Country

Tara Hughes gets in some bowling practice on Tuesday afternoon at Towne ’N Country Lanes in Nitro.

While organized sports have shut down across the country, recreational sports and activities are largely taking a wait-and-see approach locally.

Some have felt the fallout of the coronavirus already, while others haven’t seen much of a dropoff in business just yet.

Gyms and fitness centers have felt the squeeze for about a week now. Kasey Bailey is a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Kanawha City. She said the effect on attendance was seen rather quickly and that the decline has been rapid.

“It really hit last Thursday and it has been especially dead in the morning and that’s when we usually get the older crowd,” Bailey said. “They’re really trying to stay away.”

Like all businesses, Bailey said the gym has taken extra precautions, including ramping up the work schedule for its cleaning staff. Where the staff once cleaned in the morning and evening and deep-cleaned on the weekends, now those deep cleanings are taking place twice daily.

But Bailey said those efforts have done little so far to reverse the downward trend of business. On Monday, Bailey had five cancellations in the morning alone. Bailey and her husband are both personal trainers and, like so many, Bailey is concerned as to what lies ahead not only for her business, but for her family.

“It’s kind of concerning,” Bailey admitted. “I will say our owner has a good system in place. We do make an hourly pay and it helps, but it’s still going to hurt. The most concerning part is there’s not much of a solution for us unless we come up with something on the fly.”

With social distancing being stressed, most indoor businesses would seem likely to suffer. However, things at Towne ’N Country Lanes bowling alley in Nitro have been largely unaffected so far.

“We haven’t noticed any drop-off at this point,” owner Tim Allen said.

Monday through Friday, Towne ’N Country is largely buoyed by league play and Allen said those leagues are still showing up with the exception of one which has been postponed for two weeks. On Monday, all 24 teams in a scheduled league were in attendance.

For now, Allen is staying open as regularly scheduled but also realizes everything is in a bit of a state of flux as news, updates and directives come in.

“We’re relying on the local health department and the government to kind of tell us what we can do,” Allen said. “We’re not opposed to postponing [league play]. We’ve just got to follow government regulations and do what we have to do.”

Allen said Towne ’N Country is stocked with cleaning materials and that efforts have intensified over the last week. Balls are being cleaned multiple times a day and Allen estimates that cleaning supplies and efforts have “tripled or quadrupled.”

But there’s also a personal side to it. Should the business be forced to close for a while, Allen is most worried about his employees and their financial welfare while also worrying about his family personally.

“Obviously we’re concerned, I have three children, a wife and other family members to worry about, too,” Allen said. “But it’s really concerning from an employee standpoint. They have car payments and mortgages and bills to pay as well.”

While some area sporting businesses have been hurt already and others are largely unaffected, Jeff Hutchinson, the executive director of Kanawha County Parks and Recreation has seen a little bit of both.

Hutchinson said that large group activities at Coonskin State Park such as meetings, weddings and conferences have begun to be canceled as of late. Yet the park itself is still open for people to come and walk, play basketball, skateboard or take part in any of the activities offered there.

Included in those is golf. There are two golf courses under Kanawha County Parks and Recreation — Coonskin and Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado.

So far, Hutchinson said there has been little to no drop-off among golfers and that no unscheduled closings are planned for this time. He added that the Coonskin Par-3 course will shut down in about a week so that greens can be reseeded.

“People are still playing,” Hutchinson said. “My employees are making sure there’s not large gatherings in the clubhouse. If people are eating or something, we need to limit to one or two groups.

“The most people that are going to be able to be together in golf is two or three or four at a time. It’s outside, it’s not in a confined space. Those are reasons we’re not contemplating shutting anything down right now.”

Hutchinson said his staff has also made strides toward cleanliness, including wiping down steering wheels and pockets in golf carts as well as bleaching counters more frequently. But he also understands that things seem to change by the day.

“God knows what’s going to happen here in the next month or so,” Hutchinson said. “But we’re probably the same as any other business. We’re being proactive and we’re waiting to see, knowing that things could change at any time.”

Contact Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or Follow him on Twitter @RPritt.