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Sen. Joni Ernst visits Washington

Sen. Joni Ernst visited Marshall’s Furniture and Flooring as part of her 99-county tour on Friday, Aug. 28. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
Sen. Joni Ernst visited Marshall’s Furniture and Flooring as part of her 99-county tour on Friday, Aug. 28. (Gretchen Teske/The Union)
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WASHINGTON — Sen. Joni Ernst continued her 99-county tour with a stop in Washington Friday afternoon to tour several Main Street businesses.

Marshall’s Furniture and Flooring was the first stop on the list where owner Mike Driscoll, the third generation owner, said the shop has been in business for 66 years. Driscoll said he had to overcome some difficulties such as finding a way to make his store an essential business during the recent statewide shutdown of businesses in reaction to the coronavirus threat.

Despite the initial challenges, Driscoll said he had no lay offs and the biggest month he has ever had in May. The problem he is facing now is getting in fabric due to the factories in China being overloaded.

Ernst said this was a prime example of why manufacturing needs to come back to the United States. It will provide critically needed jobs, she said.

Driscoll said with the mandatory closures due to COVID-19, he felt the government was “picking and choosing” which stores to support. The local jewelry and floral shops were closed because they are considered non-essential, but Walmart jewelry and Hy-Vee floral departments remained open, he said.

Ernst said the governor is doing the best she can and said a second round of relief money is possibly on its way with the intent it will go to small businesses in the service and entertainment industries.

The senator then walked across the street to meet with Melissa Edwards, owner of Stairway to the Stars. The dance studio, open for 27 years, saw its first decline in students in its history due to the coronavirus.

Despite the difficulties, Edwards discussed how community and helping each other has made a large impact. Ernst agreed, saying community support is a sure way to make the best of a sticky situation.

“We can all be our biggest cheerleaders,” she said.