Special Report: Small Town Service

Special Report: Small Town Service

ILLINOIS (WFIE) - You may think full service gas stations are a thing of the past, but Rick's Service in White County, IL, stood the test of the time, until now.  While there are plenty of other places to fill up, the locals said there's no place like the heart of their hometown.

For customers at Rick's in Grayville, this full service gas station is more than just a place to fill up.  It's family.

"I try to make cookies every week or so and take down there for a coffee break."

Marcella Sweeney has been a loyal customer for decades.

"He gets out in the snow and he will help anybody at any place and I don't know what we're going to do. I get so upset about it because I'm going to miss him," said Sweeney.

Word traveled fast at the local senior center that owners Rick and Terri Conner would have to close down their pumps due to new gas storage tank regulations.

"It came as a shock.  We weren't expecting it," said senior center worker Larry Butler.

For drivers like Marcella, it is life changing.

"I can't pump gas anymore.  My hands are just not working real well.  "He had a lady come in since this happened this week and she'd never pumped gas ever.  So, he went with her to another filling station and showed her how to pump the gas."

The last full service station in town, like so many across the country, could now be a part of history.

"The first thing, I felt sorry for myself, and I said no I can't do that.  I need to think of Rick and Terri.  They're the ones that's losing the business."

Rick said a steady stream of people have stopped by to offer their support, including his very first customer.

"He offered me his checkbook.  He's done so much for the town over the years and everything."

The end of an era, or so they thought.  Just weeks after shutting down gas service, customers like Marcella are now finding out it's not gone for good.

"Everybody's excited about and couldn't hardly wait to hear the word that it'd come back," said Sweeney.

Rick has decided to make a major investment in his business and the community, installing new gas storage tanks and bringing it all back.

"It's something he's worked on very hard to think about and decide because it's a big, big investment.  He had a lot of customers that really depended on him.  Some that he carried on credit that really needed it and he was there for them and he'll be there for them again."

Promising to fill the hearts of his hometown for many years to come.

"We just can't hardly wait."

Rick said his loyal customers are what inspired him to make this investment.  He said the new storage tanks should be installed this summer and they hope to have the pumps back open in July.

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