CARBON HILL - The Carbon Hill City Council heard two brothers give details Thursday of the long-discussed truck stop off Exit 46 on U.S. Interstate 22, noting they hope to have the 24-hour, seven-day a week facility finished by mid-summer.
Donnie Naramore and Maeburn Naramore both gave details about the 12,000-square-foot truck stop, which they hope to have completed sometime this summer, offering Chevron gasoline, an inside short order restaurant which will always serve breakfast and an area for trucks to park overnight.
It will be located on County Road 11, just north of the exit. The council that night also approved an agreement with the state to finalize placing lights at the exit. The council also arranged to place lights on County Road 11, also known as Nauvoo Road.
Donnie Naramore first thanked the mayor, council, utility board and other officials who have assisted them, as well as the police department in protecting items from being stolen at the work site. "You have done an outstanding job with doing the part that you can legally do and help us make this project go. It has turned into a bigger project than we started with, but is normally the way everything goes," he said.
It was noted that they went to Montgomery twice with Mayor Mark Chambers to help the truck stop. "You are very lucky to have a mayor to put out the effort that he puts out to try to make this city grow," he said. "You better hope you can keep him. He has been as honest and as straight as he can be with us. He absolutely represented Carbon Hill very well to get those lights and to get what you need up here"
He pledged they will continue to work with the city. "If we say something, we will do everything in our power and will to do what we say we will do," he said.
Once the new lights are installed, they will pay for themselves not just for the truck stop both for any business on both sides of the exit, he said.
"It will double everyone's business," he said. "No one will go down a ramp when they don't know where they are going, not with a family. They want to go a well-lit place" to find a suitable business.
Donnie Naramore said when the truck stop is operational, 12 vehicles at a time can pump gasoline, as well as an three diesel trucks at a time.
He said canopy poles are up and lines are installed and covered up with gravel for now. Concrete and pump stands are about to be installed, and then the aspalt will be used to pave the parking lot. A large sign will be installed.
As for the building itself, which was a former electronic bingo hall, he noted the building was "absolutely destroyed" thanks to thefts and vandalism before they arrived. "It looked bad just looking at it, but when you started repairing it, it was a shame someone would do that to a nice building like that," he said. "But it has all been repaired inside. The shelving is all inside."
A check cashing service and a telephone center is planned, while souvenirs, small auto parts and a small convenience store will be offered, he said.
Maeburn Naramore said the brothers will be "strict to make sure there is no dope, drinking, or anyone hanging around outside our building. We will if we get our license, which we are about to apply for, we will be selling beer to go, but none to be used on the property. If we see it, they will be run off immediately. We don't want it, and we will try to have a place that the community is proud to have."
On the timeline, Donnie Naramore said they hope to open by mid-summer, although it could be a little sooner or later than that. Stocking is about to begin on non-perishable items.
The brothers are further behind on the work on a deli than other aspects of the business, as it and the wiring are about the only major things left to work on inside the building.
In a question period after their presentation, he said they feel they will employ 10 to 13 workers. Once the lights are up, they plan to operate 24/7 then.
Being a Chevron facility, he said they are close to picking up some accounts that are waiting for the brothers to open up the truck stop. Chevron fleet cards will be available as well, as that should pick up business from large companies using diesel trucks.
A site is being prepared that several trucks can stay overnight, Maeburn Naramore said.
Donnie Naramore said the 23-acre site includes most of the area stretching from the nearby Church of God to Prospect Road.
Plans for the business eventually will include showers, scales and a washer and dryer facility for the truckers to use, although they may not be available when the business opens. Talks are underway with a tire company to also possibly move to the location as a building is there they can move into now.
Asked why they picked that site, he said it came down to the availability of the building and flat land, with very little expensive excavation needed to get the land ready. The brothers has experience in contracting and that helped prepare them on what was needed to get the building ready again.
Maeburn Naramore also noted from Birmingham over into Mississippi, little was available to truckers and drivers on that side of the interstate.
The deli will be operated like a Waffle House, Donnie Naramore said.
"We're going to serve breakfast 24 hours. If you want a lunch, we'll do like the Waffle House. We'll add a pork chop to it," he said to laughs.
While the brothers said it will not be a full-service restaurant, the meal will be cooked, with the goal to be quick with short orders.
"We're trying to feed the guys who are stopping and parking out there and let them have a little bit of life other than living in their trucks," Donnie Naramore said.
District 2 Councilman Clarence Colbert thanked the brothers, saying the idea of a truck stop has been talked about over the past two terms of office.
"We've talked about getting a business in Carbon Hill to get Carbon Hill grow," he said, noting what the Love's truck stop has done for Jasper.
"This is just what we need for the infrastructure, for the road," as well as for the business and for the tax revenue, Colbert said. "I'm so thankful to the good Lord that you showed up."
Donnie Naramore said, "I have probably counted cars and trucks from Jasper to Carbon Hill so many times. I have counted over 200 18-wheelers in the trip from Love's to Carbon Hill — 200 on the road, not counting what was parked at Love's. It is not that way every day. And where you get off at Exit 57 in Jasper, I've counted 87, 89, 97 in 12 minutes. And I quit counting after we first come up here. I counted for about a month or two and then I pretty much quit. Now, when I run that highway, there is probably double the traffic on that highway what there was a year ago."
The brothers laughed in saying they would be happy to have half the business that Love's has or at least what they turn away, noting Love's has a tremendous business.