Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, June 7, 1999

Cokato bakery to cost county more money

By John Holler

As if the Wright County Board hasn't experienced enough problems concerning an abandoned bakery in Cokato, the commissioners found out at their May 25 meeting that delays in bringing down the tax-forfeited building have resulted in even higher costs to the county.

The bakery, which was found to contain asbestos that will cost an estimated $50,000 to tear down, has been in a state of disrepair for more than a year and a windstorm blew pieces of sheet metal off the roof and struck vehicles owned by Palo Companies located next to the property, resulting in more than $650 in damages.

"What we have been given by Meadowbrook Insurance Group (the county's insurer) are three options," County Coordinator Dick Norman said. "It's up to the board which option you choose to go with."

The options were simply to pay the money out of county funds, accept no liability under an "act of God" weather provision or accept no liability based on statute provisions that exempt a municipality from any claim stemming from the condition of unimproved property while in the possession of the municipality - in this case Wright County.

The board felt the first option, paying for the damage was the best choice, but Commissioner Jack Russek was concerned that no police report was filled out - a requirement when any vehicle sustains damage. While Russek said he had no doubt that the claim was legitimate, he was concerned that future false claims could be made.

"Somebody better get the word out that we're going to have to get a sheriff's report on anything similar to this," Russek said. "I'm willing to pay this one, but any future ones will be tougher. This was only $650, but the next one could be $10,000."

Commissioner Ken Jude said that this building needs to come down quickly before it costs the county any more money than it already has, but Commissioner Dick Mattson added that this building has been a problem for more than a year and the county has been aware of that and not taken swift action.

The board approved paying the claim and taking the money out of the insurance liability line item of the county's budget.


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