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Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014

Matthews is working to clean up community

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

(Photo)
Employees of Ark Wrecking basedin Tulsa, Okla., dismantle the former W. A. Gemeinhardt grain elevator.
MATTHEWS -- Residents of Matthews may have heard a constant thump Monday as the old 120-foot grain elevator on Railroad Avenue was disassembled by a steel wrecking ball.

But the former W.A. Gemeinhardt Seed Co. is just one of several old structures to be demolished over the past year in the town with a population of 605.

"It's a community effort," said Mayor Gene Curtis. "Everyone knew there was a problem, and over a period of time, everyone just kind of came together."

An old water tower and a facility that was originally part of the Allen-Davis Gin Co. located on the corner of North Railroad Avenue and Main Street in Matthews were also targets of the project that began about a year ago, said R.D. Mills, a member of the city's planning and zoning commission.

"There's been a lot of effort in the city to clean up the obsolete structures," Mills said. "And it is a positive move by the city for two reasons: No. 1, we're eliminating eyesores and No. 2, these structures are a hazard," Mills said.

Mills pointed out there's always a chance somebody's going to be playing around in the old buildings.

"Kids love to climb on things so there's always a danger of a child getting hurt," Mills said.

In addition the vacant lots could be perfect for future commercial installation, Mills said.

It's a small town trying to improve itself -- and it can be done, but it will take a lot of work, Mills said.

"Sikeston has a very active program to remove obsolete structures, and I'm real proud of Sikeston and the work they've done," Mills said. "And, hopefully, we can do the same thing, but on a smaller scale."

Plans are currently being made by the city's planning and zoning commission to address other eyesores in the town by either tearing down or remodeling structures, both Mills and Curtis said.

"We have a situation right now where there are some properties in town that need to be identified, and the owners need to take some action," Curtis said. So far city officials have received a lot of positive feedback from residents.

"Everybody I've talked to is tickled to death, and I see a win-win out of it," said city clerk Michael Pyles. "I don't see a reason to be mad or disappointed about it."

Kenny Johnson, owner of Johnson's Food Mart, said he, for one, is glad the eyesores are being removed.

Johnson said: "I think it's great. Any improvement to a little town is great."