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VFW accepts $175K offer from city

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news Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Mitchell Veterans of Foreign Wars members have agreed to sell their damaged downtown building to the city for $175,000.

Tuesday night, about 30 VFW members met and unanimously voted to approve the sale, according to VFW Post Commander Pat Ziegler. The VFW's current building, located at 105 N. Main St., was damaged during the demolition of the old Longhorn Bar, with which it shared a common wall.

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"Perfection isn't attainable in this situation," Ziegler said, "but I think everyone is satisfied with the direction we're going."

The Mitchell City Council voted 7-1 to approve the purchase of the VFW building for $175,000 at its last meeting Sept. 3. Council Vice President Dan Allen was the only council member to vote against the purchase.

According to Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson, the council still needs to approve a purchase agreement to finalize the purchase of the VFW building. The agreement will not be ready in time to be on the agenda for the council's next meeting Sept. 16, but could appear on an agenda for one of next month's meetings, Wilson said.

The VFW hopes to relocate to a new building before the start of 2014, Ziegler said, though he called that timeframe "very aggressive."

Ziegler said there are two options for the VFW's new location: the former Cherrybees building, located on North Lawler Street, just east of Main Street, or another building located on Main Street. Ziegler declined to be more specific about the latter option because of ongoing negotiations.

The VFW's members would prefer to stay on Main Street, Ziegler noted.

The former Longhorn -- which was believed to be the oldest surviving building in Mitchell -- was deemed unsafe after a wall collapse in November 2011. The city bought the building for $1 from the owner, who said he couldn't afford to repair or demolish the building on his own. He moved his business across the street.

Demolition of the former Longhorn began May 14 but was halted two days later when it was discovered the building's shared wall with the VFW building was unstable. The VFW was forced to close for more than a month as a result of the situation.

The city intends to demolish the VFW building, which is located near the proposed site of a new city hall.

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