Rockwell City truck stop under construction

ROCKWELL CITY – Construction is well underway on a new truck stop for Calhoun County. Located at the corner of Iowa Highway 4 and U.S. Highway 20, the Al’s Oil truck stop is tentatively scheduled to open in late spring.

“Hopefully by Memorial Day,” said Rollin Tiefenthaler, who owns the new store along with his brother Mark Tiefenthaler.

The Tiefenthalers also own truck stops in Jefferson and north of Storm Lake, with their main location between Auburn and Carroll. Finding a local business to move in was the fruit of a couple years’ labor by Calhoun County Economic Development.

“I had been on the lookout for some kind of truck stop anyway, and had been contacting some of the larger ones. Then Rollin stepped forward and said he would like that location,” said Pam Anderson, executive director of Calhoun County Economic Development.

“As far as from my experience in economic development, once you build something they will come. You know that old saying,” she said. “I think this will spur further development out there. I’ve already had some interest from other types of businesses.”

Anderson said the businesses are service-related, but she can’t discuss any details yet.

Rollin Tiefenthaler was interested in the location because there are so few stops on that stretch of four-lane highway 20.

“There’s not a lot on new 20,” he said. “I think Webster City’s got something. The Early Casey’s is off a little ways, but they’re there too.”

Early and Webster City are 70 miles apart.

A segment of four-lane Highway 20, from Iowa Highway 4 near Rockwell City west to U.S. Highway 71 north of Early, opened in November 2012. Since then, traffic counts on Highway 20 have gone up, Anderson said.

An automatic traffic counter was installed east of Highway 4 by the Iowa Department of Transportation, she said. The DOT’s website shows an increase of 40 to 50 percent in average daily traffic counts for most months of 2013 compared to 2012.

The truck stop will also create new jobs, Anderson said.

“Plus we’ll be capturing some local option sales tax through different sales,” she said. “Hopefully we can generate some interest in tourism, around the lakes especially.”

The building sits on nearly 12 acres, she said, so it will have plenty of room for truckers to stop and park.

There was no running water or sewer available at the site, so the store needed its own well. The county will fund up to $300,000 in utility and road costs using tax increment financing (TIF), in the form of tax rebates, Anderson said.

This means the owner will pay lower taxes than the usual rate, until the total savings add up to the agreed amount, which Anderson said would take about 11 years.

“A lot of people don’t understand TIF,” she said. “Especially for us in the smaller rural counties, we need incentives.”

The Calhoun County Rural Electric Cooperative, Cornbelt Power in Humboldt, and the Iowa Area Development Group were all involved in making this truck stop possible.

“It was a team effort,” she said.