City will take over former Geisinger property

A legal battle between the city of Richmond and the former owners of the now torn down Geisinger building is finally ending.
Ray County Circuit Court Judge Werner Moentmann rendered a judgment of more than $65,000 plus $2,000 for attorney fees to the city for the costs associated with the demolition of the building that was located at 103 N. Thorton, back in October of 2006.
City Attorney Brian Hall said after the hearing that he would immediately file for an execution of judgment with the Ray County Sheriff’s department. Once the matter is settled, the city will assume ownership of the property.
Moentmann made the judgment after defendants Mark and Sherry Geisinger failed to show for the trial that was scheduled for yesterday. Hall pointed out that the Geisingers have not shown up for the last several scheduled hearings.
The city also had requested that the lien holder be dropped from the suit.
Hall said he didn’t know the exact value of the property but did say that it was worth much less than the expenses the city incurred. Additionally, Hall told the court that his services cost the city more than $2,000 but said he didn’t believe it could be collected because of the financial situation the defendants are in.
The Geisingers had originally fought the case and involved the company that insured the building unsuccessfully.
On June 30, 2006, an air conditioning unit fell through the roof of the building prompting an investigation by the city.
Then City Administrator Doug Kirk hired Norton and Schmidt Consulting Engineers of Kansas City to assess the building according to earlier reports.
The report said the building had not been occupied for more than 10 years, was unsafe to enter due to water damage and that the floors of the building were connected to the exterior walls leaving a chance that the building could collapse.
The Richmond City Council initially voted to encourage the Geisingers to take care of the problem themselves, however, Kirk pushed for a speedy resolution. Some council members expressed hesitation about moving so quickly, but Kirk stated that attempts to contact the Geisingers were unsuccessful.
Council members who were in favor of demolishing the building pointed to a building in Clinton that had collapsed killing one person. They said the Geisinger building was in similar shape to that building.

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