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Mitchell VFW eyes new home

The Mitchell VFW is seeking a move to this building at 215 N. Main St., which currently houses Prairie Breeze Gallery. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

Mitchell’s Veterans of Foreign Wars members have their eyes fixed on a new home.

According to VFW Post Commander Pat Ziegler, members of the group voted in September in favor of purchasing a building at 215 N. Main St., with the intention of relocating from the VFW’s current building at 105 N. Main St. The current VFW building was damaged during the demolition of the old Longhorn Bar.

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In September, Ziegler declined to reveal details of the membership’s vote because of ongoing negotiations, but confirmed the group’s interest in the 215 N. Main St. location in an interview this week with The Daily Republic.

The Mitchell City Council approved the city’s purchase of the VFW’s current building for $175,000 at its meeting Sept. 3. The two parties have not yet closed the deal, but Ziegler hopes the deal can be finalized as soon as this week.

“Until that’s done, we can’t buy a building,” Ziegler said.

Mayor Ken Tracy said the city has been researching insurance and liability issues that could arise if the city takes control of the property while the VFW is still occupying the building.

“If they’re using the premise, they would still have to be responsible for insurance,” Tracy said.

Still, Tracy said, the city is willing to close its deal with the VFW.

“We don’t want to hold up the VFW from obtaining their new property,” he said.

With winter fast approaching, Ziegler said, the sooner the deal is closed, the better.

“With the weather as crazy as it is, I sure wish we could get started,” he said.

The building at 215 N. Main St. is occupied by the Prairie Breeze Gallery, an art gallery and gift shop. The owners of Prairie Breeze Gallery and the owner of the building both declined to comment on the potential sale when contacted Wednesday by The Daily Republic. The gallery is owned by Clarence and Lauretta Larsen and the building is owned by Kleve Klingaman.

The old 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.