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From Left Field

November 27, 2012

By BOB SHRALUKA
    Questions, questions; everyone has questions. Like, where does all that stuff go? Or, where did all that stuff come from?
    Last week's demolishing of a downtown building stirred considerable interest in these parts. And why not? When was the last time such a large building was demolished in Decatur?
    In Vegas, they do it all the time. But not here.
    And this effort had added issues. Such as, what if a wall falls into Monroe Street? Where if something fells into or heavily damages the building to the south, the one seemingly separated by only a couple of inches.
    Okay, for some answers to questions, let's go right to the top. Step up, Greg Fleming, president of Fleming Excavating which, to the utter joy of city officials, won the demolition contract.
    So how much dirt was brought in before the actual razing of the building began?
    "Oh, 70 or so loads (were used) to elevate it (the excavator, so its long arm and bucket could reach the top of the building)," Fleming answers.
    Once the building was down and the debris hauled out, the dirt was shoved into the basement to fill the hole. But how much more was needed to fill said hole? "Another 60 loads or so," Greg says.
    And how much does a load weigh. Around 18 tons! Really!
    Greg says it was dad Al — the guy who put the "Fleming" in the company — who suggested the dirt buildup in order to reach the top of the building.
    All that dirt, by the way, came from the gravel pit Fleming owns just north of the city, off US 27.
      "Our main concern always was having something falling into the (Monroe) street," Greg said. "And the dust; the fire department really helped us with the dust. So it went well. We had no problems, really"
    Also a concern was the next-door building owned by Becky Cochran, a CPA.
    Fleming said some plywood was placed on it and just a few bricks fell on the building, inflicting no damage. After one night of work, the effort shifted to daylight in order to be more careful razing the wall next to Cochran's building. In addition, the wall was taken down slowly, carefully. "That's why he (excavator operator Jeff Hockemeyer) knocked it down a few bites at a time; that worked well," Fleming said.
    As the building went down, some of the debris was used for elevation. That was the function of one of the two excavators: moving the debris around to provide more elevation for the other excavator.
    Another frequently-heard question: Where did all that debris go?
     Nearly all the scrap material was taken to Decatur Salvage off US 27 north to be recycled; aluminum siding, steel beams, all the metal. "Basically, anything that was scrap went to Decatur Salvage for recycling," Greg explained.
    Okay, then what about the bricks?
    "A few loads went to the city, problably to be used on the (Cochran) wall. A few went to our gravel pit. But lot of them had wood in them and a lot of them broke," Fleming said. "You see, interior walls usually have softer bricks. And so a lot of them broke."
    As Greg talked earlier this week, it appeared his outfit would be done and out of there before week's end. "We're compacting (the soil) today (Tuesday). We'll put in top soil and then it will be ready for seeding next spring."
    The next phase is figuring out what to do with the exposed Cochran wall. A meeting of city officials and Fleming will be held sometime next week to decide that course of action.
    "Some plaster will have to come off and some bricks will have to be redone," according to Fleming, wno noted that water proofing would be put down to protect Cochran's basement.
    Since no one knew what would be found, doing someting about the now-uncovered wall was not in Fleming's contract; making some correction there will be the city's responsibility.
    Which brings is to the next b-i-g question, and for this one it's Mayor John Schultz's to take. What will go in the empty space?
    "There are no plans, not right now," the mayor said. "We don't want to rush into a decison. Hopefully, we'll get something decided over the winter." That's consistent with what he's been saying since it was first decided to take down the building for safety reasons and also because it was a major eyesore for downtown.
    One idea tossed around at this week's city council meeting was to set up some way to receive suggestions from the public.
    A determining factor, though, may be whether or not the city buys the old bank building on the opposite corner, the one Adams Memorial Hospital has put up for sale

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