Sometime in the very near future, Gevo, Inc. should be signing on the dotted line, and plans for its 240 acres $800 million Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Plant will be put into motion. Construction is estimated to take about two years and employ about a thousand construction workers. With a construction project this size, demands on the communities nearest the plant will increase.
Brian Verhey, owner of the New Horizon Lounge and Lake Preston City Council member representative for Ward III, sees potential in helping the construction crews out and maybe increasing his revenue at the same time. Verhey would like to construct a new motel on the location of the old Lake Preston Times Building.
After thirty years of driving a truck, Verhey decided it was time to get off the road. He and his wife decided to buy the New Horizon Lounge. He calls it a small bar with a small kitchen, but after remodeling the kitchen, it turned into a pretty good eatery. With limited dining available, the pool tables and dartboards had to go to make way for the additional dining tables.
When Lewis Drug’s old building came available, it was the perfect location to open a second bar, with pool tables, dartboards and other types of gaming. His goal was to have an establishment that hunters, fishermen and all the out-of-towners could frequent while visiting.
When the Lake Preston Times building went on the market, he purchased it, and his original goal was to renovate the building into a six-room motel with a laundromat. Unfortunately, COVID struck, and the cost of lumber skyrocketed, delaying his plans. If there is a positive to be had from the delay, Verhey discovered that the foundation of the recently purchased building had settled two inches in a matter of months. It was time to throw away the blueprints, scrap the building and start fresh. At least they didn’t rush into the renovations and realize after construction was done that the building had some serious settling problems.
Not only will the Gevo Plant construction require more motel rooms nearby, the construction crews working on Lake Preston’s water, sewer lines and curbs will need some place to reside when they are in town working. Having a motel close to a bar and eatery seems like a good idea.
More beds in Kingsbury County is one of the goals for this entrepreneur. A laundromat for those staying in Lake Preston would fulfill another need that will arise with all the construction.
Since the current building is non-salvageable, plans currently are to tear it down in about a month and let that settle over winter, with construction starting in spring and completed by the end of summer or fall in 2022. Verhey also said that plans could change.
Plans are to construct a simple motel with rooms big enough for two queen sized beds and all the modern amenities one would expect. A laundromat would be available for anyone to access and take care of their laundry needs. It should be a great place for family to stay when Town and Country Days is going on or just for family visits.
If Verhey could purchase the building just to the north of the Lake Preston Times, he would own the entire southeast corner of that block, and it would open the area up to even more ideas, growth and development.
Prior to demolition, Verhey has been going through the old building, and his crews have made some interesting finds. While the building was used by the Lake Preston Times, there was limited access to the second floor, so no one has been upstairs for a while. Verhey said a copy of the Lake Preston Times delivered inside the door before the outside stairwell was torn down was dated 1960. That’s 61 years with no one being up there.
Items from the 1950’s, along with some woodwork, some old doors, a couple of porcelain sinks and a clawfoot bathtub have been removed. Some of the items have been given to the Museum in Lake Preston.
Keeping people who spend money in town will definitely help the economics in Lake Preston, but the county will prosper, too. If Verhey’s venture proves to be profitable, the money could seed another project in Lake Preston.
“I think as a community, Kingsbury County is really doing some good things, and we want to continue that trend,” said Verhey.