Free masks available at The Spirit in Rochelle, Ill.

July 14, 2020

Chuck Robinson


Professional truck drivers can get a free mask from OOIDA’s tour trailer when it stops next in Rochelle, Ill.

The Spirit of the American Trucker is scheduled to be at the Petro Stopping Center in Rochelle, Ill., on July 15-16. That is at the junction of Route 38 and I-39, Exit 99 from the interstate.

While no one likes wearing masks, they are required to be worn in public and inside businesses by many states, counties and cities. You can learn more about various states’ mask requirements at Land Line’s COVID-19 page.

Lewie Pugh, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said the masks will be available at The Spirit for truckers who want them. He acknowledged that some drivers have voiced frustration regarding the mandates.

“OOIDA did not make the mask rule, or any of the COVID rules for that matter,” Pugh said. “Nor are we supporting or not supporting the wearing of masks. We understand the frustration you have with having to wear these masks. We also know that drivers and the public are required to wear them in certain areas. So, with that, we are just trying to help supply you with them so you can do your job. If you don’t want one, you don’t have to take one.”

OOIDA is distributing thousands of free masks to truck drivers at its stops throughout the U.S. These are some of the 15.5 million face masks that the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would be. About 2.1 million masks were designated for highway and motor carrier workers.

OOIDA secured about 12,500 masks to distribute as part of its efforts to make sure that truck drivers have access to personal protective equipment. OOIDA helped get the ball rolling with face mask distribution when it wrote to the White House in April urging President Donald Trump to do everything he could to provide truck drivers with personal protective equipment, as well as testing and treatment, if needed.

Hub City

The Petro in Rochelle where The Spirit is scheduled to stop is usually a busy place. There are 400 truck parking spots there. The Iron Skillet dining room is open. The truck stop is about 80 miles from downtown Chicago. It is about 30 south of Rockford, Ill.

The city is known as Hub City because of several major transportation routes intersect there. Yes, I-88 and I-39 intersect there. So do two major rail lines, Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway mainlines. Rochelle straddles the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway in the United States.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see The Spirit tour truck, stop by and say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, in addition to a free mask, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon.

The next stop for The Spirit after Rochelle is Gary, Ind. Here is the schedule.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.