Months later burned building still in rubble on town square

Mayor August Kellerman
Mayor August Kellerman

PERRY COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - An eyesore and painful reminder of the past, that's how some residents in Pinckneyville describe the remains of buildings burned during a deadly summer fire.  

A lightning strike sparked the fire at the Antique Store and old Opera House on the Pinckneyville Square in June 2011. DuQuoin Firefighter Corey Shaw died fighting the fire when a brick wall collapsed on him.

Months later, some of the charred mess still remains which has many concerned and upset.

Ronald Cull describes what he sees from his barber chair.

"I see a mess," Cull said.

Cull is not alone. He says customers ask about the pile of bricks when getting their hair cut.

"Most of them ask when it's going to be taken down and we don't have an answer," Cull said.

The Antique Store and old Opera House are owned by different people. Shortly after the fire both men told city leaders the mess would be cleaned up in 4 to 8 weeks.

In August, Heartland News spoke with Ron Ridgeway, the owner of the Antique Mall. Ridgeway said they worked daily for weeks to remove what was left of his building. Today the lot is empty.

But Mayor August Kellerman says for Dr. Tim Mathis, the cleanup of the Opera House has taken longer than expected.

"I know it does look bad and it is on the square and a lot of people see it, but if they put their selves in Dr. Mathis shoes, they could see his side too," Kellerman said.

Kellerman says he's in contact with Mathis weekly. He says instead of just hauling the burnt mess away, Mathis is combing through the rubble and trying to save what he can.

Still the mayor says it's a tough situation, since the building is a health and safety concern, but it's on private property.

"I've been in contact with our lawyer," Kellerman said.  "But I want to work with Dr. Mathis because he's been a Pinckneyville citizen all his life and he's really a good citizen,  it's just a sad situation he lost all this stuff in a fire and he's just trying to recover some of it."

Still Cull says after all these months, it's time for the eyesore to come down.

"People here hope it will be taken down shortly and my clients that come in wish it was down as well.

Attempts to reach Dr. Mathis were unsuccessful. But Mayor Kellerman says he plans to meet with Mathis this weekend.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.