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Van Buren officials recovering from fire
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It has been a long two months for Van Buren County after fire destroyed its administrative building in Spencer on Jan. 7.
Three progress update meetings for the public will be offered in the coming days: March 24 at Cedar Grove Community Center from 6-7 p.m., March 26 at Fall Creek Falls Community Center from 6-7 p.m., and March 31 at Van Buren County Fair Barn from 6-7 p.m.
County Mayor Greg Wilson will be holding the meetings.
“This is something I promised to do to keep people updated,” said Wilson. “This is something I want to do every quarter. It want to update everyone on the progress we made. My time has been focused on getting the government back together and operating fully. I want to keep everyone informed as to where their tax dollars are going.”
Van Buren County Commission members hired Upland Design Group out of Crossville to design a new administrative building and generate bid documents. After reviewing the four pieces of property currently owned by the county and conducting environmental surveys, it was decided to build on Highway 111 on the corner of Taft Drive.
Wilson said a jail complex will be added to the site of the county government building. He stressed this will be able to be done without a tax increase.
Fire destroyed the 61-year-old county government building in January.
“Do you know what I find amazing?” asked Wilson. “I got the call about 10:15 that night. It burned all night. There was nothing that could be done. Once it got into the old gym, it was gone. We had an emergency meeting on Thursday night, Jan. 8. We had all our offices open and ready for business on Monday. We were able to get reopened quickly. We were only closed two days. We had a lot of help from Ben Lomand and Caney Fork to get that done, especially Ben Lomand.”
At this time, the county mayor’s office is temporarily located on the top level of Spencer Civic Center. The offices of register of deeds, property assessor, clerk and trustee are on the bottom floor of the Civic Center. The election commission is being housed at Van Buren County Courthouse, while the office of veteran affairs and UCHRA will operate out of the old City Hall in Spencer. The phone numbers remain the same.
Wilson says UCHRA is now in the Civic Center.
“We finally got our UCHRA office back open,” he said. “We are all here in the Civic Center, which is very tight. We are all here, except for the election office, historical and veteran affairs. Those are still spread out. It’s going well, though.”
The site of the fire has been cleared. The County Commission has yet to decide what to do with that property.
For more information on the county progress update meetings, contact Wilson’s office at 946-2314.