Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 3, 2013

Demolition of downtown building accelerates

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — The remains of Yum Yum's at 215 S. Main Street may be an eyesore. but the structure is completely asbestos-free, according to the results of a recent study.

At the second of two town hall meetings held in the wake of Yum Yum's April 28 destruction, concerns about the possibility of asbestos being in the building were at the top of everyone's list.

News of the tests results came Monday as several citizens noticed that the cleanup of the structure had begun in earnest — thanks to an anonymous group of benefactors.

Eri Consulting Inc. of Tyler performed the asbestos inspection sampling test of every area that could have contained such fibers. A total of 11 samples were collected, according to a memo from ERI to Eldridge Moak of Moak & Kesler, PLLC, who is working with the benefactors on the matter.

Pretty much everything was tested: Brick, brick mortar, sheetrock, tape and bedding joined compound, ceiling tile, insulation, HVAC duet insulation, plaster wall material, texture wall material and roofing material. All of it was examined thoroughly, according to the report.

"By definition, an asbestos-containing building material is a material that contains greater than 1 percent asbestos fibers," the report says. "Of all the samples collected, all were confirmed to be non-asbestos containing."

Ultimately this means that the renovation and demolition planned for the building has the "full speed ahead" signal.

It has been months since the 12:15 a.m. April 28 fire destroyed the building that housed Yum Yum's catering and bakery. As a result, two town hall meetings were called to discuss a community debate about Jacksonville's housing and building standards.

Ultimately, Eldridge Moak announced in October that certain anonymous benefactors had come forward to pay for as much as $70,000 in repairs.

Mo Raissi, Jacksonville city manager, said Monday he is encouraged these repairs are well underway.

"They're really clearing it up," Raissi said.

Moak, in a previous interview, said the repair work will be performed by qualified professionals who have licenses required for the job.

After city workers converted the outside of the building's husks into a less-dangerous, more manageable form to ensure the walls were safe and stable and didn't fall on anyone, the responsibility fell on the owners of the property to clean up and repair the insides of the structure.

But property owners Robert and Tina Lane didn't immediately step forward to take care of that end of the repairs, which upset some residents already concerned about the lingering eyesore.

Raissi said people can take heart that renovations are definitely moving forward.

"They already have been hauling stuff and working on the area for the past few weeks," he said.