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Oscar's Smokehouse recovery effort under way

WARRENSBURG - Jerry Quintal, owner of Oscar's Smokehouse, sat in a four-wheeler Wednesday and watched employees dig tons of spoiled meat out of the charred ruins of what had been days before a flourishing profitable nationally-known business in uptown Warrensburg. Excavators groaned as they cleared the mounds of burnt wreckage of the 9,500-square-feet building that had a half-dozen wings and additions and too many rooms to count, Quintal said.

"We're meeting with federal and state officials to see if we can rebuild making it 'green,'" he said, noting he wanted to help the environment and keep costs down by totally re-engineering the massive meat-smoking operation. "We want to do the 'right thing.'"

Quintal, in turn, is doing the "right thing" for his employees, they noted this week. He's keeping all 14 employees on a full-time payroll, to help rebuild the operation from scratch - a process he estimated would take about three months.

Wednesday, most all of Oscar's employees were helping with the recovery operation stemming from the fire that occurred the previous Friday evening. Quintal had advised two female employees, of child-bearing age, to remain at home to assure their health was protected from potential risks at the fire site. The hefty payroll of Oscar's employees was underwritten by business interruption insurance Quintal had purchased on the advice of his agent, he said, noting with relief that he had just updated his coverage in April. He could have pocketed the insurance money, but he felt his employees and their families needed it more, the workers said.

Quintal explained his decision, while independent heavy equipment operators Don Lambert, Mike Eddy and Bruce Terrell moved their equipment around the site, stacking charred timbers.

"My employees have been dedicated to me for years, and I'm going to make sure I take came of them and their families," he said.

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