Demolition work resumes today

    The major part of bringing down one of the oldest buildings in Decatur is expected to be completed late this afternoon.
    The north half of the sweeper shop/Holthouse Drug building was taken down overnight, and the remainder was due to fall today. After originally saying the work would be done over two nights, officials decided to do the other part in daylight as the work is more intricate due to its link to the building to the south occupied by Rebecca Cochran, CPA.
    Once the top portions of the structure are brought down into the basement, the effort will be devoted to removing all the debris, likely to take several more days.
    "We're going to restart around 11 this morning and if all goes well, everything should be on the ground — all down in a pile — by around 5 o'clock," city Street/Sanitation Superintendent Jeremy Gilbert said this morning.
    Last night's work was finished around 11 p.m.
    "Everything has been going very well," Gilbert added.
    Although the greatest danger to traffic has been removed with the razing of the portion of the building closest to Monroe St., traffic restrictions will remain in place "for a little while yet," Gilbert said.
    East-west traffic on Monroe St., severely limited by police traffic control last night, was to be reopened today; still just two lanes will be open, however..
    Fleming Excavating is doing the work and company President Greg Fleming was on hand last night to direct operations. Gilbert stayed throughout the process and Mayor John Schultz was also on hand — as were numerous spectators, bundled up due to temperatures being in the mid to low 30s.
    Police officers were called on to handle traffic and city firefighters used the department's huge ladder truck to get above the three-story building and pour water down on it to control dust. (And it had to be frigid up in that bucket.)
    As noted, people came and went throughout the nighttime work to observe the demolition effort, headed by Jeff Hockemeyer, who was operating an excavator.  A bank of portable lights illuminated the work.
    Huge piles or dirt had been hauled in to provide a base on which the excavator worked; the dirt elevated it to where its bucket could reach the highest portion of the building..
    Meanwhile, employees of the city street department this morning began the task of putting up the city's Christmas lights.