Loftis gives board update on building emergency

Robert Smith

Terry Loftis, speaking for JL & Associates of Pawhuska, which has been overseeing efforts to erect a stabilizing wall between a dilapidated downtown Fairfax commercial structure and a neighboring clinic, told Osage County commissioners Monday that he hoped to have the situation in hand by late Tuesday.

As a result of recent storms and flooding in northwest Oklahoma, the dilapidated commercial structure had become a threat to the safety of the clinic.

Loftis said he thought the worst-case scenario would be for the Robert Clark Family Health Center to return to operations by Thursday morning. He explained that weather caused the loss of the better part of a day and a half on the work site last week, but District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney said the time wasn’t really lost — crew members just had to work away from the site on preparatory tasks related to on-site activities.

“Everything has gone pretty well exactly as planned, except for the weather,” Loftis said.

County government has agreed to pay $22,500 — or half of the cost — of erecting a stabilizing wall between the Robert Clark clinic and the neighboring commercial structure that has been known as home to at least two businesses, an old furniture store and the old Big Hill Store.

Loftis asked the commissioners Monday for help with two things. First, he asked about possible help from public authorities to keep the curious from walking into the area where the ruins of the old furniture store and the Big Hill Store are located. McKinney told Loftis to consult David Bradley, the police chief in Fairfax.

Loftis also asked for help in providing documentation for use by the clinic, so that its owners and operators will be able to explain sufficiently why they have been closed. The commissioners and their assistant, Kandy Jump, suggested several potential ways to satisfy the need for documentation.

“I’d rather have too much than not enough,” Loftis said.

Osage County commissioners also agreed Monday to seek bids for the demolition of the dilapidated commercial structure that formerly housed the Big Hill Store and the old furniture store. The building, which had been the subject of litigation, is now county property, McKinney confirmed.

In a separate storm-recovery matter, the commissioners agreed Monday to seek $1.5 million from a state emergency transportation fund to restore to pre-disaster condition a 1,400-foot stretch of road north of the Blackburn Bridge. The stretch of road has been damaged in at least three locations, and to varying extents, county officials said.

Asked about the accuracy of the $1.5 million cost estimate, McKinney said the restoration could cost more than that, but he doubted it would cost less. He said that he thought the cost of fill material would come to about $700,000 to $800,000.