The ribbon cutting may have been symbolic, but the smiles were genuine as members of the Jay Chamber of Commerce welcomed the newest business to town.

On Thursday, April 26, Casey's General Store opened under the management of Tina Jackson, manager, and Regina Harp, area supervisor.

The store, which offers gasoline and convenience store items, is known for its pizza, sandwiches and donuts.

"Casey's always looks to invest in small towns," Harp said. "We enjoy being in a small town and being part of the community. It's where we started, where we came from, our roots."

The store will initially have at least 15 to 16 employees. Harp said the number may grow upwards to 20.

In the beginning, Harp said, the store will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. A 24-hour operation may come at a later date, depending upon community need.

She said Casey's employees strive to provide their customers with a "good experience."

"We have a clean store, with lots of smiles and food that meets the highest quality standards," Harp said. "That's all part of our core values, because the customer is our livelihood."

Community response

Several members of the chamber were in attendance at Thursday's ribbon cutting. 

"We are so thrilled to have Casey's join our community," Becki Farley, Jay Chamber of Commerce president said. "We're excited for what they offer and look forward to having [store officials] become involved in our activities and events."

Farley said several co-workers and friends from the area were also excited to learn Casey's would be opening in Jay.

"They said they like the pizza and would make a trip over for it," Farley said.

The store, which sits on the former site of the El Vallarta restaurant, is located on Highway 10/59 directly across from Wal-Mart. 

Farley believes it will complement existing businesses in Jay, saying every business in town has its own niche. 

Johnnie Earp, president of Grand Savings Bank Jay, and chairman of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance, agreed.

"It's fantastic to see a brand name, retail outlet invest in our community," Earp said. "It signifies confidence that we are a growing community."

Earp said he hopes this opening, as well as the existing retail basis in Jay, will help attract additional business - and jobs - to the community.

"It gives retail outlets confidence to invest in our community, which helps the tax base, our police, fire and the community all the way through," Earp said.

Jay Mayor Les Newkirk echoed Earp and Farley's thoughts, saying he thought the building - which he described as attractive - provided a "nice addition" to the town.

What's ahead for Jay

Newkirk said now that the store is open, he plans to focus on the city's new industrial park as well as repairs to the city's water treatment plant.

He said the city council will also consider, during the May 7 meeting, some improvements to the Jay City Park.