BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - The deteriorating Home Guard Building at the corner of Main and Market streets in Van Wert has been a source of headaches for the city for the past few years. On Monday, the city took action to begin boarding up the windows aside from a few first floor windows on the west side.

The historic structure was built as the Home Guard Temple, but for many years was used by the Van Wert Overall Company. The current owner has not secured the building, and many windows were broken and the roof is badly damaged.

"It's just a matter of safety at this point," stated Van Wert Mayor Don Farmer. "I feel obligated, as far as the city is concerned, to follow through. We've been through the code enforcement procedure but got no response. We're using our code enforcement monies to do it... It's an improvement looks-wise, and our concern was safety because there has been glass blown out on both Market and Main St. We can't let that happen."

Although the responsibility still lies with the building owner, the city is acting in the same manner as it does with a lawn that needs mowing. The charge is added to the tax assessment on the property. However, Van Wert City Council is in the process of considering passing an ordinance that would allow such charges to be assessed through a civil court case. Farmer noted that if the ordinance passes, he would rather see the city use the new law to recoup the money spent on securing the building.

"We are planning at this point to see if we can proceed on that, even with this building. It would be obligated on the part of the individual owner if we are successful in court that a fine would be levied on a per-day basis until it is taken care of. That's outside of the tax assessment," he stated.

Similar ordinances are in effect and are being used in other communities to great success, according to Farmer.

The first portion of the work was completed on Monday. Farmer pointed out that there are some windows which are shut and secured with fixtures already installed on the building. More of those fixtures may be used.

"There will be an attempt made to install the steel shutters that are on the building," Farmer disclosed. "Those will actually close up and lock down. Some of them already are. So the attempt will be made to secure those, then try to board up all that we can."