Breaking up a long stretch

ROCKWELL CITY – Travelers on a long stretch of four-lane U.S. Highway 20 now have a new place to stop.

Sparky’s One Stop opened June 27 at the corner of 20 and Iowa Highway 4 near Rockwell City.

“Everything’s done. All we still need is lights and a sign,” said Cindy Tiefenthaler, operations manager.

Sparky’s One Stop is a family business, headquartered in Breda. It is one of 28 stations throughout Iowa owned by brothers Mark and Rollin Tiefenthaler, the latter being Cindy Tiefenthaler’s father-in-law. She and husband Collin Tiefenthaler operate the Rockwell City location.

“This is the biggest one we’ve got,” Collin Tiefenthaler said. “It’s a big deal.”

The shop sits on about 10 acres and has room for 40 to 50 trucks, he said.

Inside it serves Godfather’s Pizza, Chester’s Chicken and breakfast 24 hours a day.

Everyone seems to love the shop’s f’real brand milkshake dispenser, Cindy Tiefenthaler said.

The machine will mix a made-to-order malt using one of the many flavor cups available.

So far, business has been booming.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “The (Twin Lakes) people, the highway, the town people have been wonderful.”

There are about 20 people working there now, Cindy Tiefenthaler added.

“We’ll need at least 25 or 27,” she said.

The shop also has two showers and a trucker’s lounge, which can also double as an emergency storm shelter.

The diesel pumps also dispense the diesel exhaust fluid needed by newer engines. And the gasoline pumps have more choices than usual.

“They’re blender pumps,” said Collin Tiefenthaler.

In addition to ordinary gas – with 10 percent ethanol – and the flex-fuel E-85, the pumps can also dispense E-15, E-30 and E-50 blends.

Rollin Tiefenthaler said it was a simple decision to put the new Sparky’s on this stretch of road.

“Because there’s nothing between Webster City and Early,” he said – a 70-mile stretch.

Rollin Tiefenthaler also received encouragement from Calhoun County Economic Development, said its executive director Pam Anderson.

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

She hoped that more businesses will come to the corner, now that Highway 20 no longer runs through Rockwell City. The segment of four-lane road from Highway 4 west to Early opened in November 2012.

“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.”