Come September, the convenience of buying gas in Devlin will be returned to area residents at “Dev Lynne’s” — a gas bar and convenience store soon to be opened by local couple Roger Allan and Lynne Nielson.
Finding “Dev Lynne’s" won’t be tough. It will be located at the junction of Highways 11/71 and 613—the former site of "June’s Place,” which closed its doors last Christmas Eve.
While its location is new, “Dev Lynne’s” isn’t. Nielson, 38, has been running a small clothing and convenience outlet under that business name for the past two years on the couple’s residential property on Cemetery Road.
But strangely enough, a bit of unsubstantiated gossip turned the Devlin couple onto the idea of buying the highway property and starting up a business there instead.
“One of the reasons we got into it is because four or five different people mentioned that they thought I bought it," chuckled Allan, 47. ”And that was before we even considered it.
“It got us thinking and we started looking into [buying the property],” he added, admitting that to be successful with an area business such as this, one has to be highway accessible.
“Dev Lynne’s” new location not only will include gas pumps and clothing but also groceries, minnows, and fishing tackle.
“We started out with our own idea of what we wanted," Nielson said. "The big thing was the gas [pumps].”
“Everybody got used to going there before for gas and when it closed, it was like a cut-off of service,” echoed Allan.
“A business like this helps pull in dollars to the area. That’s what you need,” he added.
But getting to the point of reactivating any kind of service at the highway site—gas or otherwise—did not come easily.
Underground gas tanks there had leaked over time, Allan said, making the immediate area in need of an extensive clean-up job before the banks would okay any loans.
“Our environmental was a real struggle," Nielson agreed. "You can’t borrow money for a place like that without having an environmental done.”
And while both of them knew there was work to be done to remove the contaminated soil, neither had any idea of the scope of the project.
“We knew of the contamination but not the extent of it,” said Allan.
“We must have dug 12-13 feet down and had to remove over 3,000 yards of material," echoed Nielson. "We went into major dollars to do that.”
It took nearly three and a half months to complete the undertaking, which included sending countless soil samples to a Kenora lab for testing, before a clean environmental bill of health was issued.
“We kept running into little nicks. It took three or four times from scratch before we thought we were going to make it,” smiled Nielson.
“But I always figured we would make it [work],” she admitted.
Allan stressed the soil removal could not have been done without the help of numerous truckers who gave up their weekends to help out, and Devlin municipality which waived the tipping fees at their dump.
“That saved us a pile of money. [But] when we do get a viable business going, they’ll get their tax dollars back,” he reasoned.
Allan also said it took 275 truckloads of backfill to close the hole up once again, with the whole experience convincing him to have an approved above-ground tank to service the pumps at the new gas bar.
“It’s a great feeling to get it done,” he added.
Both Allan and Nielson intend to run “Dev Lynne’s” as a year-round family business, which will include some after-school help from her two daughters, Amy, 10, and Kelly, 12.