Neighbors are thrilled to see the troublesome house go 1222 St. Helens Street, which was demolished on Thursday morning after over two decades of code enforcement issues.
Joe Calkins, one of the neighbors living across the street from the decaying and now demolished house, stood in his front yard watching the excavator crush and remove the dilapidated structure. Calkins recalled speaking at city council meetings with other neighbors in the past, urging the city to take action.
“Finally. Finally, it’s coming down. I’m excited for it to be gone,” he said.
Centralia City Attorney Shannon Murphy-Olson was hired in 1995 and said she was dealing with code enforcement violations associated with the 1222 St. Helens Street house since the first few years of her career. At a Centralia City Council meeting in early May of this year, the council awarded a bid to T-Jags Trucking, not to exceed $26,509, to demolish the house.
For years, the roof of the house was caved in and partially covered with a tarp, trees and brush on the property were overgrown, and “Centralia Clean This Up” had been spray-painted on the sides of the house.
The demolition of the house was supposed to occur this summer but was postponed due to disruptions in the process caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy-Olson said.
Calkins and fellow neighbors Russ Miller and Debbie Tiblow said that the deteriorated house caused them and others on the street to experience problems with rats but Murphy-Olson said there has been a rat problem at homes all over the city and doesn’t think it’s connected to the abandoned house.
Murphy-Olson said that the city tried for years to enforce the city’s code and sent her to municipal court, but home-owner, Joan Sittko, didn’t comply and eventually, she moved out of the house and the city took legal action to demolish it.
Since 2005, Tiblow has lived in a home where her property line runs up against that of the abandoned house and she has had to clean up her yard multiple times a year due to overgrown weeds and bushes spilling over onto her property.
“They condemned that house in 2007 and I have been fighting and fighting to get them to do something. It’s just been a nightmare. I am so grateful and happy that it’s been taken down,” Tiblow said.
Both Tiblow and Calkins said that they feel the problem was put off for too long and if a city official lived near the unsightly house, it would have been taken care of a long time ago.
“If the mayor lived in this neighborhood, you know that house would have been gone a long time ago,” Calkins said.
The house at 1222 St. Helens Street was the last home needing to be dealt with on former Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg’s ‘dirty dozen’ list of nuisance properties within city limits created in 2006.
The plot of land where the house used to sit has been put up for sale by the state and Murphy-Olson said there may already be a buyer.