Radiation concerns from Japan are now having an effect on at least one local business.
The new Zoo Teen Dance Club, located at 1120 E. Main St., Cortez, has been partially open since March 12, on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to midnight. The full opening has been delayed because a cargo shipment from Japan carrying numerous arcade games for The Zoo is being held up at the Los Angeles port due to a required check for radiation.
U.S. authorities have implemented additional radiation screening procedures for vessels that have been in Japan, in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The plant continues to leak radiation and low levels of radiation were recently detected in a cargo ship that arrived at a port in Tacoma, Wash., on March 23. The Coast Guard said the closest the ship came to Japan was 250 miles, according to the Associated Press. The levels of radiation were found to be of no harm to people.
The Zoo is owned by Cortez residents Jerry and Tambra Miller, along with daughter Mariah Miller. The Game Room company from Salt Lake City partnered with the Millers to provide various arcade games, a dance machine and additional pool tables for The Zoo. The company ordered the games from Japan, and when the cargo arrived in the United States, The Game Room at first refused to pay the cost of the radiation check because they said games were shipped and already out to sea when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, said Tambra Miller.
According to her husband, Jerry Miller, a representative from The Game Room went to Los Angeles and was going to pay the fee, but was then informed that it would be four or five days until someone could inspect the cargo because of a backlog of radiation checks. Jerry Miller said the representative couldnt stay in Los Angeles that long and told him that it would be possibly the end of April or so before The Zoo would have the games.
I said I couldnt operate that way, Jerry Miller said. I have to try to secure something another way.
The Millers are now looking at other arcade game providers in the United States, including one in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Millers said The Zoo is for 13 to 20-year-olds who want a safe, fun place to hang out on the weekends. When the club is fully opened, they plan to offer a game room for older kids at night and a Chuck E. Cheese type environment for younger kids during the day. Kids can collect tickets from the games and pick out prizes. The Zoo will feature a food court with specialty hot dogs, pizza and ice cream.
Jerry Miller said they wanted to offer something for area kids to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.
I have six children, and (we opened The Zoo) because there is nothing for them to do in this town. There is nothing for the teenage crew, he said.
For the Friday and Saturday night dances, teens pay a $5 entry fee and then they are locked in until they decide to leave. The Millers are not allowing mingling in the parking lot and one of their older sons is providing security on the property.
The Zoo has a live disc jockey every weekend and is now offering free pool table games with the entry fee. Laser light shows will also be featured.
The idea is to have a safe environment where they can come be themselves, express themselves and not be out on the street causing trouble, Tambra Miller said before the March 12 opening. They need something to keep them from going to parties and they can burn up their energy here.