Our hearts and thoughts go out to the Nelson family after a fire tragically destroyed the Nelson’s Speed Shop building north of Greenville and its valuable contents early yesterday morning.
This is an especially difficult pill to swallow, as it’s the second time Nelson’s — a huge retailer of snowmobiles, ATVs and all kinds of power equipment and parts — has lost everything in a blaze. In 2001, arson was blamed for a fire that demolished the building. Richard Crew and Stewart David Barron were both indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson. Crew was sentenced to 84 months in prison, while Barron was sentenced to 63 months. Both men also were ordered to pay $4 million in restitution.
In addition, Thomas Klein, owner of Tom’s Cycle in St. Johns, was sentenced to five months in federal prison, two years of supervised release and five months of home confinement for knowing about the crime and not reporting it. He was ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution.
But the Nelson family persevered and the business was rebuilt a bigger and better operation within a year.
While everyone involved awaits the official cause of yesterday’s fire, we know area residents will embrace the Nelsons and their family of employees with support.
We also want to praise the 11 departments that battled this blaze for at least 10 hours early Friday to put it out: Greenville Department of Public Safety, Belding, Day Township, Courtland Township, Lakeview District, Maple Valley Township, Montcalm Township, Oakfield Township, Stanton Community, Sheridan Community and Spencer Township fire departments.