Birdseye resident owner of Koerner propertyJune 2, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
BIRDSEYE — The property on which the Koerner Commercial Block building stood is in the control of a local person who is interested in revitalizing the historic site.
But the local owner has not yet stepped forward.
The property was purchased in a online commissioners tax sale that was held from April 30 to May 2.
“We’re pretty happy about it,” Birdseye Councilwoman Mary Ann Cummings, who is involved in Koerner Block Inc., said in a voicemail message. She confirmed that a local resident owns the property, though auction documents show the purchaser as someone from Norman, Indiana.
Documents from the sale show that Dale Ehringer bought the Koerner lot, at the southeast corner of State Road 45 and First Street, for $34. Ehringer is also shown as the purchaser of two lots just south of the property, paying $33 per site, and the lot just east of the property, paying $35.
The Herald left messages for Ehringer through an email and phone number found online. But those calls and emails were not returned. The Herald also tried calling the local person who has not yet stepped forward; those calls were not returned.
People in the Birdseye community have been very interested in revitalizing the site. A group called the Save The Koerner Block committee originally wanted to restore the Koerner Commercial Block building, which dated back to the 1890s and was still standing on the property until three years ago.
The property owners at that time had a purchase agreement with the organizers through Indiana Landmarks, which wanted to restore the building and get a tax-paying company to come in and use the facility. But plans for revitalization went up in smoke — literally — when the building burned down from arson in October 2017.
After that, Koerner Block Inc. was incorporated and used about $10,000 in local donations and grants to clean up the property. Representatives of the nonprofit asked the Dubois County Commissioners to consider transferring the property or the organization and forgiving the back taxes. County Attorney Greg Schnarr advised the commissioners that while properties can be sold and transferred to nonprofits, that process would require lots of paperwork and several steps, including formalized presentations and hearings. To avoid the costs associated with that process, the commissioners decided to include the property in a tax sale auction, along with 22 other parcels.
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