Contempt hearing set for Feb. 19 in Humphrey case


FORT MADISON – A court hearing has been set for Feb. 19 on a contempt charge against Bryan Humphrey for lack of action on his building in downtown Fort Madison.

According to Fort Madison Building Director Doug Krogmeier the hearing was set due to Humphrey’s alleged failures to comply with a court order from September.

Krogmeier said Humphrey has failed to meet any deadlines or do any work ordered by District Judge Michael Schilling. The order had a deadline of Dec. 15, or Humphrey could be ordered to vacate the property.

Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said it’s been a slow process and the holidays added some time, but the city has to move forward.

“The ultimate answer here is making that a safe viable building,” Mohrfeld said Wednesday.

“From there, if that involves Bryan Humphrey – let’s make it happen. If it doesn’t, we want him to get the building to someone that can make that happen.

“It’s naive to think it’s that simple, but every time he misses things he gets further under water.”

On Sept. 25, Schilling signed an order that listed out improvement Humphrey was to make on the building in coordination with city officials and the city’s engineer.

Mohrfeld said to his knowledge none of the things laid out in the order have been done, including any communication with the city from Humphrey.

Schilling’s order also set a deadline of Dec. 15 if Humphrey had either obtain proper permitting to demolish the building or make all necessary repairs outline by the city’s engineer, he was required to vacate the premises no later than Dec. 15.

Mohrfeld said he has no information that Humphrey has left the premises and is frustrated with the situation.

According to Lee County records, in 2020 the building at 732 Avenue G was valued at $149,000 and taxes haven’t been paid since March of 2019 totaling $8,800 in back taxes owed.

“His actions are telegraphing he isn’t doing anything. He’s not current on property taxes. My desire would be to set down with him and come to some practical resolve. Ultimately with the court order, since nothing’s been done. It can be marked as a dangerous structure and at that point the city can go in and mitigate it.”

Humphrey also currently owes the city $150,000 in fines ordered by Schilling.

City Councilman Tom Schulz, who used to own property on that block said he supports the city’s strong posture

“The city has struck a strong posture on taking care of a significant public health threat and a public eyesore,” he said.

“We have to follow this through to the best conclusion possible for the tax payer. Otherwise anything other we try to accomplish in the future with regard to the derelict properties will be a toothless and worthless maneuver.”

Mohrfeld said the city will continue to push the issue through the city’s attorney.

“We’re gonna keep jumping through the hoops.”

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