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VFW coming down sooner than expected

Mitchell's old Veterans of Foreign Wars building will be demolished sooner than city officials initially planned.

Earlier this week, Mayor Ken Tracy said the city still planned to demolish the VFW building in conjunction with the construction of a new city hall, which isn't expected to begin for months.

But Tracy said Friday he now intends to demolish the old VFW building as soon as possible. For months, the building has sat in a state of disrepair since it was damaged during the demolition of the old Longhorn Bar, with which it shared a common wall.

"It looks bad," Tracy said. "It's our tourist season and I think it's an eyesore."

City officials had originally combined the demolition of the old VFW building with the construction of the new city hall hoping to save money.

"I don't think that it's worth the wait," he said. "We're just going to go ahead and get it torn down as soon as possible."

Tracy told The Daily Republic in an interview earlier this week that the city was sticking with its plan to include the demolition of the old VFW building in the contract for the construction of the new city hall.

Tracy said Friday that after that interview with the newspaper, he discussed the issue with other city officials and then decided to move ahead with the demolition.

It will still be at least a month or more before demolition of the building can begin, Tracy said, because the city still needs put together a bid package, then hold a bid-opening to award the bid

The city bought the damaged VFW building last September for $175,000.

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 old Longhorn 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, 2013, 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 VFW has since moved to a building at 215 N. Main St., which was occupied by Prairie Breeze Gallery, an art gallery and gift shop.