The Merrill Karate Club found itself homeless Sunday night after the roof of the building they rent at 913 E. Main St. collapsed.
Merrill Karate Club owner Jon Gartmann and some of his students had just returned from a tournament in Chicago to find the damage. Neighbors who heard and felt the crash said it happened just a few minutes earlier, around 7:30 p.m. Gartmann walked in to find rafters, ceiling joists and insulation strewn on the floor where classes had been held.
“Sunday night was a pretty rough night for us,” Gartmann said. “It looked like a bomb was dropped.”
Lincoln Community Bank, which owns the building, is waiting for an inspection from an insurance adjuster before determining a course of action, said bank president Bob Roe. The adjuster was expected to view the building Wednesday.
Roe noted that the damage is bad enough to raise the question of whether the building can be saved.
“The damage is pretty extensive,” Roe said Tuesday. “Until we can get the insurance adjuster in there to make a final determination, we’ll have to wait and see.”
If the building needs to be demolished, the lot would go up for sale, Roe said.
The bank also owns the former Thelma’s/Guys Shop building at 1025 E. Main St. and has offered that building as a temporary home for the Merrill Karate Club. The club began holding classes Tuesday night in that building.
“We certainly wanted to offer them that opportunity,” Roe said.
Gartmann, who was busy Tuesday rescuing the karate club’s equipment from the broken building, said he’s already in the process of finding a new permanent home for the club. With the cooperation of the bank and help from a crew of volunteer who put in a couple of 18-hour days, Gartmann was grateful to have only lost one day of classes.
“We’ve been working around the clock to get everything out of here,” he said.
Gartmann thanked everyone who has stepped up to help since the collapse. Students, parents, business owners and Lincoln County Community Development have offered their support.
“People have really been awesome to help us out,” Gartmann said.