Support Hometown Communities
The federal law that limits the ability of Interstate rest areas to sell food and fuel encourages travelers to exit the Interstate and spend time in nearby communities. Who would be harmed if this law is overturned?
Real People, Like Bobby Berkstresser and His 135 Employees
Bobby Berkstresser is the proud owner of Lexington, Va.’s Lee Hi Travel Plaza. Bobby knew little about the truckstop and travel plaza industry when he bought Lee Hi in 1981. He was the 31-year-old owner of a towing and road-service business who was looking for a location closer to the Interstate. Under Berkstresser’s ownership, this 50-year-old business near Interstate-81 has become a vital part of the local community.
Lee Hi Travel Plaza is a source of jobs for 135 people in the Lexington community. Some of these folks have spent their careers at this business, which draws its customers from nearby I-81. Bobby has five employees who have been with his restaurant for 20 years, and he just rewarded his first 25-year employee with a trip to Alaska.
Rest areas that sell food and fuel along I-81 could threaten more than just businesses like Lee Hi. “When travelers come off the highway, they see the signs to historic Lexington, Virginia Military Institute and our county’s museums and campgrounds,” said Berkstresser. “But, if they just stop at rest areas on the highway, there’s no chance to convince tourists to spend time visiting our county’s local attractions.”
Berkstresser credits his business for allowing him to get involved in the community. He donates gift certificates to his local schools and supports the police and fire departments. “There is someone in here every week for a cake walk or a fundraiser,” he added.
Lee Hi also provides tax revenues that help fund local services. In a single year, Lee Hi provides the local community:
• $45,000 in personal property taxes
• $30,000 in real estate taxes
• $42,000 in water and sewage fees
• $48,000 in lodging taxes
• $42,000 in sales tax to the locality (Lee Hi pays additional sales tax that benefits the state.)
Lee Hi hosts the Virginia Truck Driving Championships and the Mid-Atlantic Truck Driving Championships, which benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Bobby also rents his lot to the DMV twice a year for the Motorcycle Safety League of Virginia Riding Course. He also lets the local antique auto club meet at his location.