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Prairie Twp. concerned about scrappers
It took two days for the former Hometown Inn to become a pile of rubble once demolition began July 11, and Prairie Township is now concerned about citizens rummaging through the debris for metals and copper wiring.
According to Prairie Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker, it could take up to two weeks before the site is clear of debris.
Until then, trustees are worried about injuries that could occur while people climb over several tons of loose concrete, rebar, and other materials.
However, a miscommunication led to the Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies spotting several instances of scavengers on July 11.
“When they first did the demolishing, the company told people they could actually do that,” Deputy Sheriff James Plumb said. “Several of our cars made contact with them and they were actually wearing the company hardhats. At that stage we weren’t really sure on how to handle it.”
“That surprises me; that must be an irresponsible person within the organization, because the person who was supervising the site was telling me, today, that somebody came up, with a pickup truck actually and started loading, and they chased them off,” Hatmaker said.
Hatmaker said there have been inconsistencies with enforcement, and that the supervisor must have been gone when any trespassing occurred.
Signage prohibiting trespassing had been posted by the township July 11, but were later taken down when the contractor could not ensure their return.
According to Hatmaker, the township believed the signs would be replaced by the contractor’s own supply – but as of July 13 no signs were up or visible.
“Also, that would be an issue. If it’s not posted then we cannot enforce no trespassing,” Plumb said.
Plumb said he would speak with the site supervisor to nail down their own enforcement on allowing citizens to dig for scrap metal – now knowing the township does not want to see that activity – then pass the word to all patrols shifts.
According to Hatmaker, the contractor is responsible for the site and the township is not liable for any injuries that transpire on the property.
"At the end of the the day, it's their decision," Hatmaker said. "I trust them with the site."
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