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Elkins hopes to demolish blaze’s ruins

December 20, 2013
By Brad Johnson - Managing Editor , The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS - Elkins City Council wants to demolish the ruins left behind by the fire that engulfed the former Runner Funeral Home on Davis St. Nov. 11, but officials are finding it difficult to accomplish that goal.

At Thursday's City Council meeting, Councilman Mark Scott made a motion to allow Fire Chief Tom Meader "the authority to negotiate with the owners of the Runner Funeral Home property with regard to demolition, and report back to us by the next council meeting." The motion was passed unanimously.

After the meeting, Meader told The Inter-Mountain the city is still unsure exactly who owns the property, as several parties are involved in a disagreement over who is the rightful owner. Meader said he will meet with all sides early next week to try to sort out the situation.

Meader has told City Council that he wants to demolish the structure, which is now a danger to the community, and he has vowed to do so soon.

"I'm not going to let it stand there for six months," he told Council at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Meader said the building had been empty for about three years prior to the blaze. The wooden structure is more than 100 years old, and also previously served as the former Elkins United Brethren Church.

Before Scott made his motion, Council went into executive session to discuss the situation.

Also at Thursday's meeting:

Sid Gillespie, executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA, asked City Council to contribute financially to the renovation of the Y's swimming pool.

The pool was built in 1958, and requires a new steel roof structure, among other renovations. Altogether, the project will cost about a half-million dollars, and will include major upgrades to not only the pool area, but also the boys and girls locker room areas.

Gillespie said the YMCA board has committed to providing $125,000 to the project.

"We think it's really important to have a year-round swimming pool" in the community, Gillespie said.

He also noted that he will also ask the Randolph County Commission to contribute funding.

Gillespie said the pool renovation is not intended to compete with the efforts of a community group - which has included Mayor Van Broughton - that has been meeting to plan the installation of a swimming pool or a water attraction within Elkins' city limits.

Councilman Lonnie Randall told Gillespie he shouldn't worry, as building a new community swimming pool was "years away" from happening.

Councilmembers thanked Gillespie for his presentation, but did not discuss funding the YMCA renovation project.

- City Council voted to cancel its first meeting in January, which had been scheduled for Jan. 2, to accommodate the holiday season. The next Council meeting will be Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.



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