Sitting next to I-135, Newell Travel Center has been a familiar sight for travelers passing through Newton for more than 30 years.
However, the owners recently decided it was time to give the center a facelift, and visitors now will find brand-new fuel stations and a completely remodeled convenience store.
"We're just really excited about the changes," said general manager Sharyn Bedlington.
The remodeling project has taken a year so far and is nearing completion. Six to eight months of planning also went into the project beforehand. Although Bedlington said it was a challenge to keep the business running while renovation work was going on, she's excited to share the remodeled center with customers.
One of the biggest changes at the travel center is the new fuel dispensers, where customers can now pay at the pump. Previously, customers had to go inside the store to pay for fuel.
The center also is one of the first stores in the area to offer Diesel Exhaust Fluid at the pump. Vehicles with diesel engines manufactured in 2010 or later must use the fluid, which is part of a federally mandated program to cut down on pollution. The fluid must be kept temperature-controlled.
The center features a digital sign, a new canopy outside and LED lighting, which is brighter and more energy efficient.
They also offer a service called "Shorepower." It gives truckers power for appliances, climate control, and TV/radio without running the engine. As of late 2012, Newell Travel Center was listed as the only Shorepower Technologies site in Kansas.
"It's a service that we provide that not everybody has," Bedlington said.
Kerry Newell, president of Newell Oil Co., said significant changes also have been made inside the center's 4,500 square-foot convenience store. The store has new restrooms and new showers, including an option for a "rain shower," which simulates rainfall.
A 21-door reach-in cooler offers a variety of drinks, and there is a fountain area with soft drinks, coffee, iced tea and cappuccino. Frozen foods and hot food items are available, and the center also is planning on expanding the grocery selection and selling fresh produce, baked goods, eggs, milk and more.
Other services provided by the travel center include 22 motel rooms, laundry facilities, truck tire sales and service, parking for 140 tractor-trailer rigs, shoe shines and massage services.
The next phase of the project will be remodeling the travel center's restaurant, which offers a daily buffet and Saturday and Sunday breakfast buffet.
Bedlington said the goal of the center is to serve both truckers who are passing through town and people who live in the community.
"They can get pretty much anything they need here," she said.
Visit Newell Travel Center at 200 Manchester Ave. in Newton.