By Jim T. Ryan
Staff Writer

Newport Dollar General remains closed for rodent infestation

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Baby rats

The Dollar General store in Newport remains closed a month after an inspection found a severe rodent infestation, with the company saying it is working to address the problem.

The state Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services conducted an inspection of the store at 205 Fickes Lane on April 2 following complaints about rodents, according to the inspection report. The inspection led to the closing of the store.

Violations included rodent infestation throughout the store, evidenced by rodent droppings that were “too numerous to count” and urine on store shelves and in warehouse areas, according to the report. Inspectors also found dog food products that were gnawed into by rodents, as well as dead mice on glue boards in storage areas.

Similar rodent traps were also on shelves throughout the store, the report stated.

Prepackaged food and drinks were stored on the unclean store shelves and in storage areas with droppings and urine on the products, according to the report.

“Our Newport store is currently closed as we address store standards. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause our customers, and we encourage shoppers to visit our other five Perry County locations,” Dollar General spokesperson Mary Kathryn Colbert wrote in an email on April 24.

She did not answer additional questions about how the situation would be fixed, nor a potential time line for the store’s re-opening.

Shannon Powers, spokesperson with the state Department of Agriculture, said a rodent infestation is one of a few conditions that can lead to a store closure because of the potential health risks to the public. The food safety bureau is part of the agriculture department.

Companies found to be out of compliance need to address the problems as soon as possible and then call for a re-inspection, Powers said. As of April 25, Dollar General had not yet called for a re-inspection.

Most findings can be fixed during the inspector’s visit, but others like pest infestations can take more time, she said. Sometimes the infestation is caused by factors, such as proximity to a waterfront and adjacent vacant buildings. Each case is different.

There are vacant spaces next to Dollar General in the Fickes Lane building, but their status is unknown.

Last week, there were people working inside the Dollar General. Signs on the doors said it would be closed until further notice.

According to state records, the rodent problem is a repeat violation for the Dollar General. An inspection in April 2017 found similar rodent problems, which were allegedly corrected at the time of the visit.

On April 2, the Dollar General was also cited by inspectors for the manager’s failure to notify the state of the imminent health hazard, according to the report.