Geels Appointed Mayor, Council Takes Action On H.C. Lane Building

Sheldon, Iowa — It took two votes by the Sheldon City Council, but current at-large councilman Greg Geels was appointed mayor at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Four Sheldon men had expressed interest in becoming mayor: Fred Grein, Wayne Barahona, Bob Engel and Geels. Each man was afforded a three-minute opening statement to the council laying out their individual reasons for wanting to become mayor. After the opening statements the council had the opportunity to question each of the candidates. The four were then allowed to make a closing statement after which the council, except Geels, cast votes for their selections. The first ballot came up as a tie, with Geels and Barahona each garnering two votes. The council then took a second vote, which ended up with Geels getting votes from three of the council members, and Barahona getting one vote. Council members Tom Eggers, Brad Hindt and Pete Hamill cast their second-round votes for Geels, while Shawn Broesder voted for Barahona. The council affirmed Geels’ appointment as Mayor of Sheldon, effective April 15th.

The Sheldon City Council also took up the topic of the H.C. Lane Building. The building, which has been an anchor for the downtown Sheldon business community for more than one hundred years, was inspected by the State Building Inspector and State Fire Marshal. Some major structural problems were discovered during that inspection. One of the issues of compromised structural integrity was at the back side of the building, and prompted the Building Inspector to urge the City to block off the alley behind the building, since he said he thought there was a good chance that wall could collapse.

The manager of the Lane Building, Rod Fonkert, contacted structural engineer Wayne Schlotfeldt, of Sclotfeldt Engineering, to inspect the building and issue a report. Schlotfeldt inspected the building Tuesday (April 2nd) and emailed a preliminary report to Fonkert on Wednesday. City Manager Sam Kooiker told the council that Fonkert had forwarded Schlotfeldt’s preliminary report shortly before Wednesday’s council meeting was to begin.

In his preliminary report, Sclotfeldt agreed with the state inspector that part of the south wall of the building had been compromised and no longer provides adequate structural support for the south wall. He says that freeze/thaw action has caused the exterior brick surface to pull away from the building, and the interior brick to slough into the basement. The report indicated that there is little concern of the roof and upper floors collapsing since the floor joists and roof joints are supported by the east and west walls, and not the north and south.

Schlotfeldt recommended steps for repairing the damage to the south wall, and suggested temporarily shoring up the south wall until permanent repairs are completed. He further urged replacement of the interior column that had been removed at some point, since the column in that position supported a beam that connects the second level floor loads and part of the roof load.

The council voted to have the Public Works Department block off the alley that runs between the south side of the Lane Building and the north side of the former Eagles building. The current owner of the former Eagles location expressed concern to the council that trucks going through his south side parking lot to reach the rear of the businesses on the south side of 9th Street could cause severe damage to his asphalt lot. In light of those concerns, the council asked Public Works Director Todd Uhl to block off the alley between the two buildings, as well as the parking lot on the south side of the former Eagles building, forcing truck traffic to use the alley that runs on the north side of the museum. The council will review the situation at their April 17th meeting. They also approved beginning the Dangerous Building Process with respect to the H. C. Lane Building, urging the owner and manager of the property to complete the suggested repairs as soon as reasonably possible.

The blocked off alleyway

 

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