Over 100 people gather to express concerns about the Huntoon Dillons closing

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Many Topekans are unhappy the Dillons Grocery Store on Huntoon is planning to close it's doors permanently February 13th.

Faith Temple Church hosted a Community Forum for over 100 people to express how they were each affected by news.

Deputy Mayor Karen Hiller, who covers the district the Huntoon Dillons is in, spoke with Dillons Representative Sheila Lowery.

"I asked if the decision was final, if it was worth it for us to go after it, she said that she thought it was. I'm just telling you that. We can do whatever we want," Deputy Mayor Karen Hiller said.

"It appears to us at least that this was announced without input from the community," Event Coordinator Brett Martin said.

So, they came together Sunday night to give a voice to the voiceless.

Jamie Colon brought a unique perspective to the meeting-- he worked at the Huntoon Dillons for about a year and says it's not just a place to buy your food.

"As I took the job with Dillons I said specifically I want to work at this Dillons (on Huntoon). I don't want to go to another one," Colon said, "During the interview process they asked why is that and they said because when you come here everybody talks to everybody. It is a gathering spot."

Dillons says the store has not generated a profit since 2004, and that by closing the store, they can continue to keep prices low and better serve customers across the Topeka.

Dillons says they will be offering all associates at the Huntoon store jobs at neighboring Dillons.

The next closest Dillons is 1.72 miles from Huntoon, but that doesn't help loyal customers like Maurine Wenger.

"It's nice to be able to walk to and from with a shopping cart it works wonderfully," Dillons Shopper Maurine Wenger said.

Wenger has a tough time getting around and can't drive due to eye problems.

Come February 13th at 6 p.m., when the Dillons on Huntoon will permanently close, Wenger will be able to add one more problem to the list.

"It meets the needs of needy people in the neighborhood and not just older people like me, but people who can't afford cars," Wenger said.

"I might have the opportunity to drive to another Dillons, however the people that are shopping right next to me may not have those types of opportunities and those people are my neighbors," said Martin said.

"This is just really disappointing. I'm not surprised, but it's disappointing," Wenger said.

In December 2012, David Tiscareno shot and killed Topeka Police Officer Jeff Atherly and Corporal David Gogian at the Huntoon Dillons parking lot.