FM officials deserve credit in wake of Davenport collapse


We’re all thinking about it, but we're not sure anyone’s talking about it. So we'll talk about it here.
A building collapsed in Davenport this week and lives were lost. Still more are yet to be recovered, with at least three missing.
Lots of people in Fort Madison were commenting on our stories about the city of Fort Madison taking over the Block building downtown. The building was falling into disrepair to the point where City Building Director Doug Krogmeier and Fire Chief Joey Herren barricaded streets off because bricks were falling and walls were leaning.
Through court action, the city took control of the building and then paid to have it shored up.
No more barricades… no more threat.
To our knowledge, the building still hasn’t been transferred to a developer so it’s in city hands. What that looks like is still being discussed between the city and potential developers, but the important thing at this point is that Krogmeier, Herren, and the city clearly did the right thing.
There was real concern that building was going to collapse. The courts ordered the building cleared until it could be shored up and private ownership did some preliminary work to shore the building up, but it wasn’t deemed sufficient by the city.
Now the building has been property restored on the west side to prevent any collapse. The building is empty to prevent any loss of life. Now developers can investigate the possibilities of getting the building back on the city’s tax roles… instead of collapsing into the street.
Most people want to shout at the rain when it comes to government overreach, but then we have people who protest the government hasn’t done enough. This story was all over national news as downtown residents protested against sluggish recovery efforts.
I couldn’t help but think about how Fort Madison would be reacting under the same situations.
Would they blame the city for not doing more to secure the building, with or without tenants, or would they saying at least the city didn’t overreach as wood, bricks, and drywall lay on the pavement at the foot of a crumbled structure.
Thoughts then turn to what’s next. Lawsuits, deaths, blame, investigations, journalism, insurance companies, all in the wake of the event. Why was the owner fined $300? Max fine allowed?  Why did the Mayor call off recovery efforts? Are there still bodies in the rubble?
This could have been Fort Madison. No one would make the stretch that a crumbling of the Block building on the southeast corner of Avenue G would have been of this magnitude but a building that would have collapsed on the Mayor’s watch. Right onto 8th Street.
People would still complain and criticize city officials, but you can’t watch that situation unfold in Davenport and not think about us here in Fort Madison.
Thumbs up to city officials for tackling that building head on. Nothing works right for everyone and processes like this usually leave someone hurting emotionally, but fortunately, as we see the tragedy unfold in Davenport, no one was hurt here physically.
Fort Madison officials get credit for that in our book. The Mayor moved the project
So, you haven’t seen much of me lately out and about. Your friendly neighborhood reporter has been homebound with an ailing mother and can’t be left alone right now. Rest assured we’re doing everything we can from our home and on zoom, and with GameChanger and the good help of great people, to keep news coming to you. My family will likely end up at Mayo Clinic next week, but rest assured we’re still keeping an eye on things and will be back in full force very shortly – but that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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