Just the facts

Just the facts by the Plain Talk We would hope that we�ve reached a point where we can make a decision on the Vermillion City Hall issue based on facts.

It appears that, at least, some of us have.

It sadly became apparent Tuesday night, however, during the meeting of the Vermillion City Hall Advisory Committee, that good ol� innuendo and rumor is still stealing the show.

In a rather rambling explanation, Neil Melby, a committee member, said �it is absolutely true� that some �funny business� regarding architectural inspections of the present city hall took place about five years ago.

It�s one of those stories that not only makes the circuit once or twice through town. It seems, in the minds of some townsfolk, to be in permanent orbit in Vermillion.

Here�s the gist of it: (and to get in the proper mood for this, imagine you�re drinking coffee with your buddies in a cafe, or getting a perm at the beauty shop, or you�re at The Bluffs golfing, or getting a trim at the barbershop. In other words, this works best when you are in prime gossip territory) architects looked over city hall back in 2000 and �supposedly� reported that the building could be renovated. Upon hearing this news, city officials �supposedly� told the building experts to sharpen their pencils and come up with higher renovation costs for the building.

This would �justify� the construction of a new city hall.

There�s a few problems with this scenario. The most glaring one: it�s false.

We did something that Melby evidently didn�t think was important in his role as a city hall advisory committee member.

We talked to the architect. We asked him about, as Melby terms it, �the funny business.�

�That never happened,� Robin Miller, of Miller Sellers Heroux Architects, Inc., said.

You can read more about this aspect of the erroneous information that has been so freely circulating throughout our fair community on the front page of today�s paper.

There�s a secondary, serious ramification to all of this. Melby kept referring to all the phone calls he�s getting from the public who have doubts about the entire concept Vermillion has been engaged in for the past 17 months to amicably recommend the right course of action for settling the city hall issue.

A bit of skepticism, we�ll concede, is healthy. We can�t help but conclude, after hearing Melby Tuesday, that the source of the doubts among some of the citizenry is the above-mentioned misinformation.

And a major source of the misinformation? Melby is among the top suspects. Judging from her tone at a question and answer session at the beginning of Tuesday�s meeting, we�ll throw in Melby�s wife, Lynette, too.

In perhaps an effort to make a bold statement, or maybe simply to distinguish himself from other committee members, Melby refused to offer any recommendations. He voted no when the group ultimately decided to suggest to the city council Aug. 1 that the best course to take is to demolish the present city hall and build new at that site.

Just as well. It�s difficult to imagine, at this point, Melby being able to fulfill a productive role on the committee.

We will be in a transition, soon. This topic will move from the committee to the city council.

We urge the city council to base its decisions on facts. Not rumor. Not misinformation.

The current city hall would be a renovator�s nightmare. There is inadequate access and egress; the lofted offices are constructed of combustible materials with a combustible exit stair; areas of framing don�t meet code requirements; floor joists need to be double; existing walls seem to be moving; additional loads to the roof framing may not be added without providing additional reinforcement; and the main electrical service gear appears to be at the end of its useful life.

These are only some of the problems identified in the structure. This isn�t funny business. It�s reality, and it�s time we deal with it.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@ plaintalk.net

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