Minnesota Store Rebuilding After Tragedy

MENTOR, Minn. -- For Kathy Michaels, the Mentor Convenience Store carries the worst and best memories of her husband. On June 17, 2010, Wes Michaels was killed on his 58th birthday when a tornado flattened the business. For four years before the tragedy, though, Wes cherished the gas station/c-store and because of this, the family has decided to reopen.

"Because he liked it here so much and because he had plans to expand, we think he'd want us to rebuild," Kathy told The Forum newspaper. The full-time nurse in Crookston will work part-time at the store. She has passed ownership and management onto her daughter and son-in-law, Amy and Chris Motteberg, who live in Fertile, Minn.

The store will be renamed Mentor C-Store and is scheduled to open sometime in the first half of June. The new building will have twice the square footage of the former one, with more grab-and-go food available, according to the newspaper.

Mentor residents are pleased to see the construction. The closest gas pumps are eight miles away in Erskine, while the town's one café shuts down in mid-afternoon and the Dairy Queen next door is closed during the colder months.

"The town is very excited to get this back," said Harlan Kirkeide, owner of Harlan's Boats R-Us, a neighbor of the Mentor C-Store. "It's good for everyone, and it brings in traffic. I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine of every morning going over for coffee and a newspaper."