- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

DONIPHAN, Neb. (AP) - A central Nebraska butcher shop that lost more than 4,800 pounds of meat in a February fire is back in business.

Steve’s Butcher Shop in Doniphan reopened after more than three months of reconstruction. Owner Steve St. John said he felt obligated to his employees and customers to reopen.

He has been cutting, processing and selling custom meats at the shop for 28 years, according to the Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/29hDIFW ). After serving so many of the same customers year after year, he said he couldn’t just walk away.

“Every day at the post office, people would ask when I’m going to be open again,” St. John said.

One lady even grabbed him into a hug after the fire and began to cry. Another woman from Taylor, whom St. John has never met, sent him a $20 bill after the fire. She said it wasn’t much, but she hoped it would help in some way to bring his business back.

“People like that - it just makes you melt,” he said.

The Feb. 14 fire left the building standing, but the meat inside was damaged by the smoke. More than 20 head of beef, 25 deer, even a wild boar that St. John had been hanging in a locker to process from a customer’s hunting trip in Oklahoma were destroyed. Government inspectors followed the destroyed meat to an approved landfill in Shelton for burial.

The shop now has more than $200,000 worth of new equipment, from meat slicers to vacuum sealers. It also has a new generator, different from the one that malfunctioned and started the fire.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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