Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect title for Joe Pajor.
Joe Pajor, Wichita's deputy director of public works and utilities, and David Spears, Sedgwick County's public works director, may dread the snowy and icy roads that come with winter, but for car wash operators, messy roads mean messy cars.
And messy cars mean money.
Car washes across Wichita were doing steady business Saturday as people rushed to rid their cars and trucks of salt, sand and dirt.
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Entrepreneurial types set up at do-it-yourself car washes, buckets and rags in hand, to help people who didn’t really want to do it themselves. They wiped down newly clean cars, polished tires and cleaned interiors. One man hustling for work at a wash near 21st and Hillside said sometimes people don’t like to get out of their cars and would rather pay someone else to finish the job.
As warmer weather returned to Wichita, people were getting out to clean up or take a walk or play on swings.
Joe’s Car Wash hired 20 people – 10 part-time and 10 temporary workers – to handle the lines that formed after most of Wichita’s snow melted.
Owner Duane Steven said his two locations had washed between 700 and 800 vehicles by 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We love when it starts to snow and there’s salt and sand on the road because that gets people’s cars in,” Steven said. “It’s really bad now that there was snow and ice for so long. The cars are even filthier, and that salt is obviously bad for the cars.”
The car wash boon likely will last for more than a week, he said.
Blaine Larson gave his blue 1977 Plymouth a bath Saturday, using a hand wand to clean off headlights. The clean car gleamed in the sunlight, fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror.
Other people took advantage of the snow-free day to take their dogs on walks or to dog parks.
Kaylee Bond and her husband brought their 6-month-old Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix, Olive, to the Murfin Animal Care Campus Dog Park off K-96 and Hillside adjacent to the Kansas Humane Society.
Olive whined for Bond when another dog approached. Saturday was her first visit to a dog park.
Olive hated the snow at first but then grew to love playing in it, Bond said.
“We had to like throw her in the snow at first,” Bond said with a laugh. “It took some warming up, but then she loved running in it.”
Only a few pounds of pup, Olive would disappear under the snow. Bond said she would be able to tell where Olive was because snow would be flying up in the air.
The nice weather looks to continue, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Kleinsasser said Saturday, which reached the low 60s.
“Tomorrow will be a tinge cooler. with mid-50s for highs,” he said. “It will still be above normal, though. We’re not looking at any chance of rain or snow.”
There could be a few rain showers east of Wichita on Sunday night or Monday morning, he said.
Monday’s high should be near 60, he said.