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Colfax beer garden declared a total loss

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — No matter what you call it — beer garden, beer tent, beer shed — the insurance adjuster for the Village of Colfax has declared it a total loss.

The roof on the beer garden at the Colfax Fairgrounds collapsed following a heavy, wet snow the last week in February.

The Colfax Village Board’s parks committee met March 31 to discuss options for replacing it.

Unfortunately, replacing the structure is not going to be as easy as it might seem.

The structure was insured for replacement value, but as of the March 31 meeting, the insurance adjuster had not yet committed to a dollar amount for the building, said Annie Schieber, village trustee and chair of the parks committee.

The insurance adjuster also had been talking about “pro-rating” the replacement value, and Schieber said she did not have a clear idea of exactly what that meant.

Rich Jenson, Jenson Construction, attended the meeting to provide information on what it might take to replace the building.

Considering only the construction costs, replacing what had been at the fairgrounds before the snowstorm in February would cost about $35,000, Jenson said.

The problem, Jenson said, is that the beer garden (tent, shed) is not just one building — it is actually two buildings that are connected: the beer shed and the dance floor directly to the south.

If the village board decides to replace what had collapsed and to keep the beer shed and the dance hall connected, the total number of cubic feet would be right at 50,000, and that means, because it is a commercial building, the plans would have to be drawn up by a licensed architect or engineer and approved by the state, Jenson said.

If, on the other hand, the village board decided to rebuild a smaller beer garden, because it would be a commercial structure between 25,000 cubic feet and 50,000 cubic feet, the plans still would have to be approved by the state, he said.

The existing beer shed and the dance hall are 49,920 cubic feet, Jenson noted.

If the village board decided to enclose the dance hall portion, because it is a commercial structure, more support posts would have to be added so that they are no less than six feet apart, he said.

The dance hall’s rafters are five feet apart, and the support posts are currently ten feet apart, Jenson said.

In addition, a master electrician will have to sign off on two exit signs, and the structure will need two swinging utility doors so that if the building were on fire, the average five-year-old could push the doors open, he said.

“My personal belief, as a builder, is that the village will be liable or the builder will be liable (if something happens, like a tornado), and the village should not cut corners,” Jenson said.

Richard Johnson, village trustee and a member of the parks committee, said any commercial pole shed builder, such as Morton Builders or Durand Builders or Menards, would already have state-approved plans for buildings, and the village would not need a licensed architect or engineer.

“They will build it according to your specs, your size and dimension,” he said.

Jenson said he had checked with Menards.

“They do not like to do blueprints,” he said, noting that whoever bids on the project will want to see blueprints so they can do a proper bid.

The $35,000 estimate for a replacement cost does include $2,000 for demolition, but it does not include building permit fees or inspection fees, Jenson said.

Committee members also discussed moving the beer shed to the east.

A sewer line running north of the beer tent would prevent moving the structure any farther north or expanding the size of the building to the north, Johnson said.

Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief and the village’s street supervisor, wondered why the village had not yet received a firm figure from the insurance adjuster.

“I don’t know. He is not returning phone calls,” Schieber replied.

In addition to the parks committee, which includes Village Trustee Mike Buchner, and in addition to Logslett and Jenson, the meeting was attended by Rand Bates, director of public works, Tom Dunbar, representing the American Legion, Tarry Turner, representing the American Legion, Brian Johnson, representing the Colfax FFA Alumni, and Scott Gunnufson, village president

All of those present at the meeting agreed that because of the amount of time involved in the process of drawing up plans, obtaining state approval for the plans, advertising for bids, awarding bids and the time needed for construction — the beer garden (tent, shed) will not be able to be replaced by the time the Colfax Free Fair is held in June.

Johnson suggested that since the collapsed structure will need to be torn down anyway, the village should go ahead and clean up the site, and then an actual tent could be put up for the American Legion during the fair.

“That would give us time to give a lot of thought to what we want to do,” Schieber said.

The agenda for the parks committee meeting only listed discussion about replacing the structure and no action items regarding the beer garden.