Monday, November 5th, 2018
Tornado wreaked havoc on Celina businesses
Rebounding from the tornadoes
By Sydney Albert
An aerial view shows the damage to the Crown Equipment Corp. plant in Celina aft. . .
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Daily Standard is taking a look back and forward on the anniversary of the Nov. 5, 2017, tornadoes that tore through the area.
CELINA - Most local businesses damaged by an EF2 tornado that ripped through Celina one year ago are back up and running after repairs and renovations.
Randy Niekamp, Crown Equipment Corp. vice president of human resources, said while some operations at the Celina plant were back up within a week of the tornado, the company is still finalizing other renovations and repairs.
The Celina plant sustained heavy damage. A significant portion of the roof was removed, and exterior walls on the southwest side of the building had also collapsed. Damage was also noted by officials from the National Weather Service on the eastern side of the building.
According to an informational video provided by Niekamp, 32 machine tools in the Celina plant were damaged beyond repair, with the tornado ultimately impacting 80 percent of the plant's machining capacity. Crown had to temporarily outsource the manufacturing of hundreds of parts while the building's roof was repaired and replaced, its walls reinforced and new machines ordered.
A full production schedule was resumed six weeks after the tornado. Niekamp said he did not have access to a final damage cost estimate.
Kerry and Julia Roberts, owners of C-Town Wings, said they were able to reopen their restaurant after about a month, but some finishing touch-ups weren't completed until a few months ago.
A window on the southern end of the restaurant had been blown out, littering the inside of the building with glass and debris. The southern wall and outdoor fencing also were damaged.
Julia Roberts said while the business was undergoing initial repairs, they also took time to rebuild the bar inside the restaurant. Other details, including painting the new siding, had to be postponed until after the colder months had ended.
Kerry Roberts said the total final damage estimate for the property was about $260,000. That amount doesn't include damage to cars in the parking lot that had been struck with debris or trapped beneath downed power lines. The restaurant had insurance.
Several other businesses, including Dunham's Sports, Peebles and Ruler Foods, were closed for months after significant damage. The doors to Dunham's were blown in and a portion of the roof had collapsed into the store, according to an NWS report. All three stores opened months later in the spring after repairs and some renovations, such as new store layouts.
Corporate communications personnel from the three chains could not be reached for comment on the full extent of the damage.
Other businesses were never rebuilt. The lot next to C-Town Wings still sits empty, long after the remains of the heavily damaged Dollar General store that once occupied the space were cleared away.
The tornado had shattered the front windows of the store, and portions of the roof had been ripped off or collapsed into the building. On the Monday after the tornado, a construction manager for Dollar General at the site, who declined to be named told the newspaper the structure likely wasn't salvageable.
The site probably would need to be "scraped to the slab" before it was rebuilt.
In June, Dollar General officials announced they had no plans to rebuild the Havemann Road store.
"After a comprehensive review of how we can best meet our customers' needs following store damage sustained in Celina, we do not have current plans to reopen the store on Havemann Road," Angela Petkovic, a corporate media relations representative for Dollar General, wrote in an email.
Petkovic wrote that Dollar General would continue to serve residents at its other area stores.
Construction of a new retail store on that lot is expected, however. Earlier this month, Celina Planning commissioners approved a request for a plot plat approval for a new, unnamed business at 1905 Havemann Road.
Bill Kanney of Bruns Building, who requested the approval and whose business would construct the new building, said he could not disclose the name or type of business other than to say it's a retail operation that officials hope to see in place by July 1.
The business would reportedly employ seven full-time and four part-time employees. The proposed 24,570-square-foot structure would feature 18 parking spaces and docks for a delivery truck and a long semitrailer, Kanney said.
Mercer County Auditor Randy Grapner estimated the county had lost about $15,550 in sales tax for November alone after the closure of several retail locations on Havemann Road. However, he saw little difference in the overall December figures between 2016 and 2017.