HOPE — In a situation where one thing leads to another, two significant openings will take place in Hope over the next few days.

On Saturday, the town’s new Visitor Information Center will open in a low-key fashion at the Yellow Trail Museum, located at the southwest corner of Jackson and Main streets on the Hope Town Square.

Two days later, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Hope Wellness Pharmacy — the first drug store to serve Hope in almost 30 years — will get underway at 10 a.m. Monday at 645 Harrison St., across the square next to the Hope library.

The Columbus Area Visitors Center moved its satellite operation out of the Harrison Street facility known as the Simpson building at the end of December, leaving an opening for the pharmacy to move into.

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Hope Wellness Pharmacy is the third drug store operated by Panacea Pharmacy, Inc., said pharmacist Lester Burris, one of three business partners who operate Panacea.

But its doors opened for a March 22 soft opening, Hope Wellness became the first drug store to operate in Hope since Mills Pharmacy closed in 1989, Burris said.

After Mills closed, the lack of a local drug store became a often-expressed community concern. Surveys were taken that indicated a substantial number of lower-income residents don’t have the means to drive back and forth to out-of-town pharmacies.

Past and current town leaders, as well as nonprofits such the Community Center of Hope, also said about 10 percent of the town’s population is age 65 or older, with many homebound due to disabilities.

To address the need, Hope Wellness originally wanted to begin filling prescriptions in February, but delays resulting mostly from regulatory red tape and insurance contracts were unavoidable, Burris said.

But the extra time was used to hire Hope native and pharmacist technician Teresa Turner, who has provided Panacea with valuable insight into the community’s needs, Burris said.

Available pharmacy services include text messaging, automatic refills, and a program that allow multiple prescriptions to be picked up one time a month, he said.

Unlike the tourism operation that had been located at the Simpson building, Hope’s new Visitor Information Center is not considered a satellite office for the Columbus Area Visitors Center, Yellow Trail Museum spokeswoman Barb Johnson said.

That’s because the new office will not be involved in scheduling tours and a few other functions on behalf of the Columbus tourism office, she said.

However, a strong partnership between those two organizations, ensuring that the new center has both print and computerized resources for its visitors, Johnson said.

Beginning on Saturday, the most obvious change will be an expansion of the museum’s hours. Rather than just three hours a day on weekends, both the museum and information center will now be open Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m., Johnson said.

The new arrangement also provides the Yellow Trail Museum additional resources to update its website and social media pages, she said.

A grand opening for the Hope Visitor Information Center will be scheduled after new furniture arrives, Johnson said.

New museum hours

Beginning Saturday, the Yellow Trail Museum, which also now includes Hope’s new visitor information center, will expand its public hours.

The facility at 644 Main St., across from the Hope Town Square, will now be open each Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 6 p.m.

Last fall, a $25,000 grant allowed the museum to acquire 33 percent more space for its exhibits and activities, as well as engage in historic renovations and restorations.

While Yellow Trail refers to an early 20th century advertising gimmick involving yellow marks on utility poles, the museum’s mission is the history and heritage of the entire Hope community.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.