- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party and officials in Red Oak, Iowa, are locking legal horns, each saying the other should pay to tear down an abandoned and deteriorating church in the southwestern Iowa community.

A company, Kirojen LLC, headed by Nebraska GOP Chairman J.L. Spray, purchased a tax lien for the 124-year-old church near downtown Red Oak at a tax sale in 2012, the Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1oYXshT ), and the company later became the building’s owner.

The city has since labeled the building as dangerous and has requested that Spray’s company to pay to have it demolished. A court order in April authorized the city to tear down the building, and the City Council voted 5-0 last week to proceed with demolition.

The city is now seeking bids and estimates that the cost to demolish the building will be at least $20,000. Red Oak officials plan to pursue a judgment against Kirojen to cover the costs.

But Spray, a Lincoln attorney, countered that information provided by Montgomery County during the tax sale made it appear that the building was in better shape than it was, and that it’s the city’s responsibility to cover the cost of demolition.

“As a consequence, we are walking away from our investment in it,” Spray told the newspaper. “I don’t think the company would like to further invest in something that doesn’t make any sense.”

Spray said he has tried without success to work out a compromise with city officials, including covering the cost of demolition if a zoning waiver was approved, so garages could be built on the lot. He also offered to let firefighters burn down the building for training, he said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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