Tornado damaged property at the center of controversy in Mt. Olive IL

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MT. OLIVE, IL (KPLR) - Nearly three years after a tornado tore through the downtown area of Mt. Olive, Illinois, a single building remains in disrepair. And those battling over what to do with it say they are now in limbo.

The property, owned by Lisa Scoggins and her husband, was badly damaged in May, 2013 when an EF-2 tornado hit the small Illinois town about an hour northwest of St. Louis.  Since then, most of the damaged section of Main Street has been fixed, but not all of it.

“They tore down the city hall building,” Scoggins said.  “They tore down a deserted bakery building, but they’ve done nothing with our building and here hit sits.”

The large two story building housed their business and their home.  They say the city has offered them $21,000.  The mayor tells us that is the fair market value according to two appraisers.

“The city of Mt. Olive was all ready to go to sign off, to pay for the property at the negotiated price and the sellers rejected the price at the last minute,” Mayor John Skertich said.

There has been plenty of back and forth since, and now Skertich tells us the grant money that had been approved to buy and tear down the structure is gone.  There was a deadline of February 28th to use it.

Scoggins says Skertich has threatened to seize the property, something the mayor denies.

“The mayor and the grant writer definitely got their point across, implying that if we do not take this money and move on they will find a way to get this building,” she said.

“No. We’re not seizing no one’s property,” the mayor told us.  “We offered fair market value which was determined by an independent appraiser and that’s all we can offer by grant rules.”