George, Vincent Agree: County Home Needs Better Security
MIDDLEBOURNE – Vandalism and trespassing are becoming more common at the 100-year-old Tyler County Home site.
There are multiple doors and windows which allow for almost unrestricted access into the abandoned facility that still houses the power station which provides electricity to the fairgrounds.
Peggy George, president of the Tyler County Home Restoration Committee, said because a criminal element may be attracted to the vacant property, it has been a constant struggle for all in the past few years. Liability issues aside from what might be considered an attractive nuisance, George hopes for a solution to these problems before they get worse.
“My worse nightmare is with it being open and the drugs in this area, that we may be called there one day for a meth lab. That will be a horrific explosion; possibility of many deaths,” said Peggy George, president of the Tyler County Home Restoration Committee.
Commission President Eric Vincent said he has had discussions with members of the fair board about how, due to the lease, the board is “the first line of defense when it comes to this building.”
“They understand that they need to go in, board it up and make a one secure entrance to that place where people that want to go in and out of it, can,” he said.
Vincent said on numerous occasions, the commission has sent the county’s maintenance department among others to secure the building, but then it just becomes unsecure again.
Vincent said the restoration committee wants the county to invest in video cameras so as to provide some surveillance for the property. Also, Vincent suggest that at some point, sheriff’s deputies might make patrolling the property part of their regular rotation.
“We have no idea when the vandalism happens and no idea when anything may or may not have been taken from the building,” Vincent said. ‘But I think the key point in the whole situation is the liability it brings to the county and the fair. We have no ideas the numbers it would cost either organization (Commission/Fair Board). We talk about the cost of repairing and fixing or tearing down; the cost of losing a life in that building or someone getting hurt forever will put the county behind big time and the fair board as well. I tend to believe that the thing that rises to the top is the liability for both organizations when it comes to keeping that building secure.”
George said she is notified when vandals attack or how a door or window is open.
“I am notified often when damage or doors are left open,” she said. “I think the citizens know that I really care and will report activities to me instead of the Fair board or Commissioners. I was just alerted recently, that different door is standing wide open. I have been told from so many that they would love a tour of the place, and that is what many folks do – just walk through it. But, then you have those who wants to leave their mark by busting out windows, spindles and doors.
The house can not take much more of this abuse. Four years ago, it was suppose to have been taken care of, but the same entrances are open to whomever.”
George said she is very concerned that the longer the property remains unsecure, the more damage it will sustain over time.
“…What I fear the most if they don’t get it secured soon, we are going to have thousands of dollars more inside work to do, when we get that far,” she said.
George has been doing a little investivgation about how $40,000 worth of slate went missing. She has discovered at least one person who is willing to sign an afidavit that he saw the slate 2 years ago.
If this weren’t bad enough, other things have turned up missing ranging such as the wooden spindles for the building’s numerous staircases. George said to her knowledge no reports or insurance claims have been filed.
“Someone needs to start answering questions,” she said.
The restoration committee began fundraising in February and have had fundraisers each month netting more than $10,000.
The group is in the process of applying for grants. George said the group would like to begin replacing some windows and doors, but only if the place is secure enough so that their efforts are not wasted if vandals return.
She said there are fundraisers planned for 2017 that include selling “memory bricks” that would generate $19,000 in revenue if all the bricks are sold.
George and the restoration committee have been tireless in their endeavors to raise funds to save the home.
However, George floats another idea to bring in essential revenue a countywide levy.
“Levy would be an option, at least a try, that way we would see how Tyler County citizens feels about restoring the County Home,” she said.