Wal-Mart will open a 156,000-square-foot supercenter at Sun Valley Boulevard and Interstate 35 on Wednesday, with a grand-opening celebrating scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m., according to a press release from the company. The store will operate 24/7 and has created about 300 jobs.
Hewitt city officials have eagerly awaited the arrival of the city’s own Wal-Mart, which they think will greatly increase the community’s sales tax revenue. A Wal-Mart supercenter that opened in 2004 at 600 Hewitt Drive is in Waco city limits.
“We are excited to open and bring the everyday low prices of Wal-Mart to the Hewitt community,” store manager Cory Reimer said in the press release.
Reimer started his career with the company in 2000 as an hourly employee at a store in Temple, according to the press release.
The company is working to promote from within and to pay higher wages, according to the press release.
“Starting in 2015, Wal-Mart began making a $2.7 billion investment over a two-year period in higher wages, more scheduling choices and further training for its associates,” the press release states. “As part of increased wages across the company, the average full-time hourly associate now makes $13.12 an hour in Texas.”
It went on to say that more than 75 percent of store management teams started as hourly employees, and that of the company’s 160,000 promotions in 2014, 40 percent went to first-year employees. Hiring continues for the new Wal-Mart in Hewitt, and applicants are invited to visit the in-store kiosk or walmartcareers.com.
The grand opening will include the presentation of $8,000 in grants to the Central Texas Young Marines, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Hewitt Police Department, the Big XII Black Student Government Planning Committee and the Midway ISD Education Fund, according to the press release.
Special events at the new Wal-Mart do not end Wednesday. Residents are invited to what Wal-Mart is calling “A Big Family Welcome” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28-29. Visitors will get the chance to meet Reimer, the store manager, and enjoy fun family activities and free food samples, according to the press release.
Gas prices slide
After weeks of watching gasoline prices rise, Waco is joining the rest of the nation in feeling relief at the pumps.
The statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded dropped by a penny during the week ending Thursday, bringing it to $2.15. That price still is 48 cents more than Texans were paying this time last year, but it does break a streak of prices increasing at a time of year they should be falling.
AAA Texas spokesman Doug Shupe said reduced demand during colder weather and an adequate supply of gasoline in the marketplace are causing the tumble in prices.
Several locations in the Waco area were charging a penny or two less than $2 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. The citywide average Saturday stood at $2.09, which was about 2 cents less than the $2.11 a week earlier, according to the website.
Patrick DeHaan, a GasBuddy.com analyst, wrote in a weekly report the price of regular unleaded in Greater Waco around mid-January has varied greatly in recent years. It averaged $1.70 a gallon in 2016; $1.81 in 2015; $3.05 in 2014; $3.16 in 2013; and $3.21 in 2012, he reported.
Many questions have been posed about the new two-story building at Lake Air and Waco drives, where an old convenience store was demolished.
The Tribune-Herald has reported an optical clinic would open in that space, but there were no signs on the premises to confirm that report.
The city of Waco has issued a building permit valued at $150,000 to complete interior finish-out work at that address for Stanton Optical.
Founded in 2006, Stanton Optical has grown to nearly 65 locations in 17 states, including six in Texas, in El Paso, Odessa, Lubbock, Tyler, Beaumont and Corpus Christi.
Its website says each location features a state-of-the-art optical lab, 2,000 designer to choose from and a large selection of contact lenses.
There have been quite a few developments on the food front of late. Here’s a sample of what’s cooking, according to sources:
H-E-B, the San Antonio-based grocery chain that dominates the Waco market, has introduced for a limited time a cereal called Slam Duncan O’s, named in honor of longtime San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan. The cereal includes honey-nut O’s that serve as hoops and chocolatey puffs that serve as basketballs, according to a description on H-E-B’s website. It is available locally at the H-E-B stores on Wooded Acres Drive, South Valley Mills Drive and Woodway Drive.
A new Jim’s Krispy Fried Chicken has opened in the long-vacant former Church’s Chicken building at 1500 N. Valley Mills Drive, near Hobby Lobby.
Work apparently has resumed on converting an old Whataburger building near North Valley Mills and Waco drives into a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen location. Crews were working there Saturday.