Tuesday, February 19, 2019 Elyria 12°
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Oberlin's Slow Train gives back to air traffic controllers

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    Slow Train barista Ian Smith, of Wellington, creates a latte Tuesday afternoon. The coffee shop is giving free beverages to air traffic controllers from the Cleveland Center in Oberlin during the shutdown.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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Tuesday marked the 25th day of the government shutdown and workers everywhere are feeling the pinch.

Friday marked the first paycheck that was marked with the hours worked by local air traffic controllers at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center in Oberlin, but no money.

A local business that owes some of its success to air traffic controllers is giving back, announcing it will give free beverages to Oberlin controllers until the shutdown ends.

The Slow Train Cafe has had a steady stream of controllers stopping by for morning coffees since opening nine years ago, said owner and manager Jessa New.

New posted on Facebook on Monday night about the offer of free coffee, tea and espresso to those with an identification badge from the Oberlin center, which was met with a wave of goodwill.

“We don’t post often on Facebook, but we put that up and we got a ton of comments, lots of people we don’t know showing support for our decision and quite a few people came in today,” New said.

The idea was prompted by a conversation between New and her husband, Blake, who coaches men’s soccer for Oberlin College. The couple has friends who work at the center, and they were discussing what they could do to help.

The center’s ZOB union represents 366 controllers and some engineers. While many federal employees are furloughed, controllers are considered “essential” employees. By Tuesday, some workers were showing up to redeem the offer.

“There’s all this hardship going on, and it’s been 25 days now without pay. My husband said, ‘What if we offered a discount?’ And I said ‘Why don’t we just give them beverages?’ ”

“They love coming in, they’ve always been great customers. It’s sort of a small thing in the big picture but if it puts a little smile on someone’s face to look forward to this while all this chaos is going on the government, we’re happy to do it,” she said. “Knowing that others feel for them and want to help out, that’s important.”

The Slow Train Cafe is at 55 E. College St., Oberlin. The coffee and espresso shop makes its own pastries and offers a small menu. It is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Contact Rini Jeffers at rinijeffers@gmail.com.

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