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January 29, 2013

Family renovates local hotel

MT. VERNON — — So what happens when a hotel gets dropped in the lap of a family?

In the case of the Reinlein descendants, they rally around each other to make things work.

“We own the Cozy Inn, which was the Motel 6,” Ruth Elders said. “Motel 6 leased the property for 40 some years, and when the lease was up, they just handed us the keys.”

The property was purchased in 1937 by Paul and Ella Opal Reinlein, who enacted the lease. Paul Reinlein passed away in 2000; his wife in 2008.

“That left the property to me, my sister and my niece,” Elder said. “I live in Elgin as a real estate agent. My sister ... Faye Hammond, runs a hotel in New Castle, Wyo., and my niece is Paula Thomas.”

Elder explained the Motel 6 was corporate owned, and now the company is only selling franchises.

“They had let it run down,” Elder said. “The manager, Marian, is also a part of the family.”

Marian Sellen said she is Faye Hammond’s niece.

“I got a call, saying ‘Marian, we need you,’” Sellen said. “I lived in North Carolina. We drove 12 hours, and got here.”

The first order of business was to clean rooms, then to work on renovating and remodeling each room. Sellen, who has management experience, is also a Certified Nursing Assistant, which she said helped with knowing how to do the cleaning.

“This is a new challenge,” Sellen said. “As we get business, we spend more on remodeling. We’re doing it a little at a time.”

Sellen and her daughter, Raylene, are running the hotel, and trying to make it family-friendly.

“We’re doing things like our breakfast, offering guests popcorn in the evenings,” Sellen said. “At Christmas, every one of us are here in hotel rooms, so I cooked the family Christmas dinner, and everyone who was staying here was invited to have dinner with us. We’ve had some family reunions stay here, and that has been nice.”

With 78 rooms and two housekeepers, Sellen is staying busy.

“The hotel is still up for sale,” Sellen said. “The family says if we can’t make money at it, we need to sell it. But if we can turn it around, we won’t sell it.”

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