Abandoned building demolished

SOUTH RANGE – The abandoned building next to Betty Wiles’ house in South Range was finally torn down Thursday, almost three months after it partially collapsed onto her house. But she’ll probably still have to pay for damages, she said.

The building had been vacant since it was destroyed in a 1999 electrical fire.

Before that, the century-old building had been used as a livery stable and bus service prior to falling into disrepair.

Houghton County condemned the building in 2004 and called for it to be torn down immediately. Nine years later, it fell against Wiles’ house on June 6, damaging her roof and windows.

Then followed three months of trying to work with her state and federal representatives, but to no avail, Wiles said. The Michigan Land Bank told her to file a claim with her own home insurance company to cover the damages.

“Nobody would step up and pay for this,” she said.

The Michigan Land Bank covered the $38,000 cost of the demolition, handled by Smalley Construction from Scottville, Mich. They knocked down the building Wednesday and were hauling away rubble Thursday. Workers with Hazmat suits sprayed down debris as a backhoe carried chunks away.

“They were very nice, very pleasant, very fast,” Wiles said. “I have no complaints about what they’ve done. Fantastic.”

But Wiles said she thinks she’ll still have to pay for the damages herself. And her insurance premium is rising 29 percent, she said.

“Why should my insurance have to pay for it?” she said. “My building wasn’t the problem. It was the condemned building that was the problem.”