Community provides free business renovations to family of Thorsby gas-and-dash victim

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The Thorsby community came together Saturday to support a grieving family by painting the gas station they own for free.

Last October, Ki Yun Jo, 54, was hit and killed by a driver who stole a tank of gasoline from the local Fas Gas Jo owned. A murder charge was laid more than seven months after the gas and dash.

The station was in need of several repairs, Jo’s 30-year-old son, Sung Hyun Jo, told CBC News in May.

Contractor Rhonda Fiveland organized Saturday’s event to tackle one of the renovations the business requires: painting.

Rhonda Fiveland organized Saturday’s event. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Dozens of volunteers picked up a roller, covering portions of the building with a fresh coat of white paint.

“It’s overwhelming to see how much support came forward,” Fiveland said, noting that the paint job will be completed within the next couple of weeks.

But the support wasn’t limited to a one-day event. Fiveland said people have also provided upgrades to the building’s roof, furnace and hot water tank.

The Thorsby gas station got a fresh coat of paint Saturday. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

“When someone’s in need, you step up and help them out,” she said. “That’s what community’s about.”

Fiveland said the business still needs one major upgrade: new gas tanks. She’s hoping to raise $500,000 to fund the renovation.

Sung Hyun said he’s grateful the small town has rallied behind his family, which includes his sister and mother.

“They’ve been supporting my family ever since we opened the store,” he said Saturday.

Volunteers paid tribute to Ki Yun Jo at a vigil inside the business.

A vigil was set up in honour of Ki Yun Jo, who died after a hit-and-run in October. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Last week, the Alberta government implemented a law that requires drivers to pay for their gas before filling up. Sung Hyun said the new rule is inconvenient for drivers, but said the law will help keep gas station employees safe.

“If this law was implemented back in 2013 … my dad did not have to die,” he said. “It’s just really unfortunate it took this many years for Alberta to implement this law.”



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