CARSON CITY — It’s been more than 20 years since the Kellogg Elevator Co. was up and running on the edge of the city limits, and since that time Mother Nature has not been kind.
After years of weathering from winter snowfall and summer storms, the structures that once brought the city to life with local farmers bringing in crops and trains traveling in and out of town are now only a ghostly reminder of what once was.
Today, the old elevator structures are the first thing visitors see when they enter from the north of town at 818 N. Division St. … and the patience of local residents is wearing thin.
City Administrator Mark Borden said owner Dennis Kellogg has been working with the city to see that the structures are removed throughout a two-year process.
“It’s been an ongoing concern,” Borden said. “The Kellogg property has been the biggest complaint I’ve received from residents in the six years I’ve been here. It would be nice to see it tore down, to get rid of that eyesore.”
Borden said the structures on the site were classified under the city’s dangerous buildings ordinance in 2013, which requires that the owner of the property take measures to repair the buildings to make them safe or have them removed.
After several months, Kellogg eventually agreed to tear down the buildings and hired Richard Garlick of PresCon Industries Inc. in Rockford to do the job. The company began working on the project in September 2013, but work slowed throughout the winter months.
Garlick said the city has given his company two years to get the job done. He said citizens will start to notice visible progress throughout the upcoming summer months.
“Last autumn, we lost about 30 days due to personal things for our employees that had to be taken care of,” Garlick said. “And this winter is really what killed us. We’re having a hard time getting started up again as we need the snow to melt to really get at it.”
Garlick said work was done throughout the winter on the interior of the buildings, removing items and salvaging anything that could be saved or sold for profit. Once the interior of the structures have been cleaned out, he said the exterior of the buildings and surrounding structures will begin to come down.
“Lots of things were done on the inside during the winter,” he said.” You’ve still got to empty the buildings before you can tear them down. There are lots of things that are salvageable.”
Garlick said residents can expect several of the large bin containers, along with the rear building on the west side of N. Division Street, to come down this spring.
With structures on both sides of the street, Garlick said he isn’t sure how he will move forward with tearing down the main buildings.
Depending on how progress goes throughout the summer months, he said he will either work to demolish and remove the central building on the west side of the street or close the building completely, with plywood and other materials and move on to the structures on the east side of the street.
“Residents aren’t going to see a whole building come down right away,” he said. “If we did that, cleanup would take forever and there’d be damage to the nearby railroad tracks. When we’re done we want to make sure it will be all cleaned up.”
Garlick said right now he just wants citizens to stay away from the site to remain out of danger.
“We don’t want people coming and walking on the property as we’re trying to get this done,” he said. “We don’t want to have to put a fence up around it.”
Mayor Bruce Tasker said the removal of the Kellogg Elevator Co. has long been an issue for the town, but commended Kellogg for finally taking action with the property.
“To Mr. Kellogg’s credit, he had a dream of bringing the railroad back to Carson for industry,” Tasker said. “He held onto that for a long, long while, as he had plans of creating a soybean plant.”
Tasker said after several years of failed attempts, Kellogg finally agreed to have the buildings removed.
“I think he’s finally come to the realization that it’s not going to work, using the railroad to bring industry to Carson,” he said. “That was his vision, to help improve Carson. I have to admire him for that, but in the long run, it just hasn’t worked out.”
Tasker said the process to remove the buildings has been frustrating, but he’s glad to finally see progress.
“I wish they would just bring in some big equipment and level the buildings, but that’s not how he’s doing it,” he said. “He said when he first started that it’s going to be a slow process. As long as they continue to work with us, that will be OK.”
Borden said there has been one confirmed injury on the site of the old structures — a firefighter was injured several years ago while searching for a missing child.
“We know it’s not safe,” Borden said. “We’d like to encourage them to get serious again this spring about removing the structures. If we are having this conversation in late June or July, about a lack of progress, then we’ll have a problem. They know we’re frustrated.”