That church is home to the Gerald GED classes and also to the Gerald Senior Center. No rent is charged for either space.
The blaze originated in the northeastern corner of the building and that apartment was mostly destroyed. Occupants of all eight apartments were safely evacuated.
Slowly, the Maxwells began clearing the rubble as they waited for a determination from their insurance company.
The City of Gerald sent a letter to the church dated July 24, 2012. The letter stated the “building is irreparable and has been declared to be a hazard and public nuisance.” The letter went on to note that demolition of the building would need begin within 30 days.
And it did.
Burned studs were pulled down, walls removed and much of the debris was cleared away,
In the meantime, the church’s insurance company declared the building was not a total loss, and said they would only make a partial loss settlement.
By this time, the Maxwells had decided they did not want to manage any more apartments. They came up with a new plan.
The lower level on the back side would be turned into two separate spaces. One would become a new classroom for GED students and the other, larger space would house the senior center. No rent would be charged.
They then decided to build a gymnasium where the front apartments were now, along Flottmann Road.
Calvary New Life Tabernacle has a strong youth group who could make good use from such a facility.
Maxwell decided that he would build the roof of the gym over the existing apartments, and then do the demolition under the roof.
At some point Kay went to City Hall to obtain a permit for the work, but was refused.
They continued tearing down the building and salvaging materials.
It must have been the recent delivery of new roof trusses that caught someone in city hall’s eye.
A certified letter dated Nov. 19, arrived ordering them to “immediately cease and desist the reconstruction of the building.”
The letter told the church that a public hearing would be held Monday, Dec. 3, to show cause why the building should not be demolished.
During the meeting Dan Maxwell and his son-in-law Dave Luechtefeld addressed the board. Both men have served as aldermen in the past.
The Mayor Joann Parmentier said the city’s building inspector Dan Roberson had told her of several code violations.
Maxwell denied the two she mentioned.
When asked for a list of the violations, the mayor said they had only had a conversation of them, there was no written report.
Roberson told Maxwell his main concern was a floor on the upper level that was rippled and cracks in the foundation.
Maxwell later told The Republican, “There are two guarantees with concrete: It will get hard and it will crack.”
In the end, the city asked Maxwell to get a written report from a structural engineer or a Franklin County building inspector vouching for the building’s safety.
The board then said that pending a plan being presented to Planning and Zoning and an application for proper permits, they would allow the construction to continue.
In the meantime, demolition may go on.
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