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Façade removed, street and sidewalk reopened, questions remain

DAYTON–Eagles Aerie No. 2618 members will meet next week to discuss the fate of their fire-ravaged building following a flurry of work last weekend that succeeded in allowing Main Street traffic to move once again, and use of the sidewalk to resume.

The membership will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 24, at the Fairgrounds' Youth Building, said Lupe Benavides, Aerie Trustee. The meeting location may be subject to change, he added.

Benavides said Tuesday that no decisions have been made on the future disposition of the building which lost its upper-story walls and roof in a spectacular fire June 8.

"It's a mind-boggling thing to figure out," Benavides said. "We were so close.... People [who volunteered] want to finish the job they started.

"Now we've got to wait until All Wheels is done," Benavides said. "But the highway is open and Roman Schmidt put up the mesh up above."

Highway 12 traffic was routed around Dayton's Main Street from the Tuesday of the fire until around 6 p.m. Saturday, June 12, Benavides said.

Eagles volunteers kept watch on the structure overnight following the fire.

Insurance adjustors inspected the building and started the claim process.

Don Jackson Excavation was hired to remove about 30 feet of the upper portion of the façade but was delayed Friday as insurance adjustors communicated with underwriters back East, Benavides said. The go-ahead was finally given and Jackson's crews began mobilizing around 2 p.m. Friday. "We didn't start at 8 a.m. because of this," he said.

Plastic was put on the sidewalk, plywood set on top and a thick layer of gravel then added to cushion the concrete from impacts from falling brick.

Two high-lift cherry pickers were brought in and Jackson's crews attacked the wall with rotohammer drills, dropping the crumbling bricks and mortar two stories to the protected sidewalk.

Workers eventually found a system of removing brick that worked and were able to finish by the deadline Department of Transportation officials set, he said.

In addition to the mesh applied above, temporary fencing is up to prevent people from being hurt should bricks or other material fall from above.

Benavides said it is open from All Wheels but that people should park in front of the building at their own risk.

Volunteers put the finishing touches on cleaning the sidewalk Monday night, June 14.

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