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Power County seeks input on the future of condemned historic building

AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The fate of a historic building in Power County will be discussed at an upcoming meeting. County commissioners are seeking public comment regarding the old Power County courthouse annex.

The old Power County courthouse annex lies in the heart of downtown American Falls and is almost as old as the county itself; Being built almost a decade after the county was established.

But after massive rain and water damage the century old building has been condemned.

County Commissioner Delane Anderson says the foundation of the building has sustained so much damage that the outer wall is visibly leaning forward.

According to the Power County history book, Power County Idaho a century in the making, the old annex was originally built as a hospital in 1926.

The medical site was built a replacement for the old Bethany Deaconess Hospital when the town of American Falls was resettled in 1925, according to writer and historian Celia Klassen.

After exchanging hands multiple times, the county purchased the building in the early 2000s. The building then became the home of the several Power County departments, the museum, youth groups.

According to Commissioner Anderson, since the evacuation many groups have had to make other arrangements while others are left unhoused.

"Most of our things are still in there," Power County museum chairperson Debrah Kendell told Local News 8.

"We've been looking for other options to move into, and it's just been a process of finding out what's possible. Sometimes we feel like we need to really pursue something that's outrageous and we may do that. Who knows?"

County commissioners say they've had a professional commercial property inspector evaluate the building and provided recommendations about what path to take.

Anderson says, they've heard from both people who want to tear the building down and those who consider the building a major part of the town's history. 

"Given we're at 100 years on this building now, I feel like it's probably served its life worth," said Anderson.

"We all have expiration dates no different than a gallon of milk. But we we do want to do what the public wants to do...the public will be the ones that makes the decision.

Do they want to rebuild this as a replica? Do they want to bond and do they want to have their taxes increase so that we can do that?"

I think the answer would be no. Do they want to have a new structure, something in place that we can make it for generations to come? Have a great building? Yes, I think they will."

The board will be sharing possible plans as well as taking public comment Thursday night at the American Falls library at 5:30 pm.

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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