Eclipse in Waco can’t shake some schedules

Politics


Monday’s eclipse will find people in the Waco area confined to hospital beds, jail cells, indoor work spaces and countless other life and job descriptions that will make difficult finding a vantage point to view the natural phenomenon.

Inmates in New York even filed suit, claiming they were being unfairly excluded from Monday’s festivities.

It would seem from interviews that local institutions facing a captive non-audience are taking different approaches to their dilemma.

Monday is a regular workday at L3Harris, the defense contractor operating at TSTC Waco Airport.

“However, we are assessing our planned break times and providing supervisors flexibility to allow the teams to experience this rare event,” spokesperson Marcella Thompson said. “We are providing eclipse viewing glasses for employees onsite that day wishing to participate.”

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McLennan County Chief Deputy Cody Blossman said the county jail will not have a designated viewing area for inmate use, and that the jail staff has more pressing duties that preclude accompanying inmates outside.

“We use our staff and resources to process those being booked into the jail. We will not have viewing at the McLennan County Jail,” Blossman said.

Kyle Citrano, managing partner at George’s Restaurant on Hewitt Drive, said in an email he is not providing viewing areas inside, “but will work to make sure that staff and guests have the opportunity to witness the once in a lifetime viewing.” To patrons he will offer an Eclipse Margarita that will be “blacked out,” a Brotherwell Brewing specialty beer called Total Eclipse of the Heart of Texas, and, of course, typical daily lunch specials.

Local military veterans staying in Central Texas Veterans Health Care System facilities will get the chance to witness history, spokesperson DeAnn Aparicio said.

“Veteran residents who would like to view the eclipse will be assisted by staff to designated gathering areas and provided protective eyewear,” Aparicio said by email. “The Doris Miller VA Medical Center, which provides primary care and specialty health services, will have three locations on the Waco campus for residents and staff to enjoy the experience.

“Our amazing Recreation/Therapy/Creative Arts Therapy service will be providing educational information as well. As always, the health of our patients and delivery of health services will take priority. To ensure the safety of our patients and staff, no public activities are planned.”

First National Bank of Central Texas will close all locations from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Monday so employees can witness the eclipse, spokesperson Dan Ingham said.

“We purchased eclipse glasses for all employees to use that day, so you will see plenty of FNBCT employees in our parking lot,” Ingham said. “We are providing lunch for all employees so they don’t have to get out and fight the crowds that day.”

TFNB Your Bank for Life will close on Monday, spokesperson Ryan McCormick said. The bank made viewing glasses available at its downtown location on South Eighth Street, “but those were scooped up pretty quick.”

Both Ascension Providence and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest said in statements their priorities remain the same.

“Ascension Providence will be operating as normal on April 8,” Ascension spokesperson Ann Howser said, with no mention of eclipse viewing. “We look forward to providing the same high quality care to the communities we serve. Additionally, we have robust policies and procedures in place to accommodate the influx of people in our service area during the eclipse.”

Central National Bank CEO Joe Nesbitt said bank leaders weighed their options to balance customer needs and employee desires.

“Believe me, we’ve wrestled with this over and over,” Nesbitt said. “We have Central National Bank branded viewing glasses we will be handing out as well as eclipse themed snacks (Moon Pies and Sunny Delight). We are planning to have fun with it. … Hopefully it isn’t cloudy.”

Officially, Central National will close for 25 minutes during the eclipse.

The bank will modify its phone greeting that plays from 1:25 to 1:50 p.m. If a customer arrives at 1:25 p.m. wanting to conduct business, “we will provide them with a pair of eclipse viewers and we will invite them outside to watch the eclipse with us.”

Supervisors will determine when and how many employees may leave their work stations to go outside and view the eclipse.

The Delaney at Lake Waco, a senior living community, said it plans games and themed snacks on Monday. Residents physically able and wanting to see the eclipse will receive escorted visits to the grounds.

In Waco, the eclipse will start at 12:20 p.m. Monday and end about 3 p.m., with sky-darkening totality lasting from 1:38 to 1:42. As of Saturday, the National Weather Service Fort Worth office forecast called for a more than 90% chance that high clouds would be in place by Monday morning, with low clouds covering Central Texas at eclipse time and “increasing confidence they spread farther north into East Texas” and the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.

“About 10% of the area will likely experience enough breaks in the clouds for more optimal viewing,” the weather service reported, warning that forecasting specific locations that may see breaks in cloud cover cannot be done well in advance.



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