Despite hassles, Glenville builds back up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 27, 2001

GLENVILLE -&160;May 1, 2001 was a day that will not soon be forgotten in Glenville, but life in that community goes on this winter and residents are looking forward to a new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

GLENVILLE -&160;May 1, 2001 was a day that will not soon be forgotten in Glenville, but life in that community goes on this winter and residents are looking forward to a new year. The tornado destroyed buildings, but not people’s spirits.

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Many downtown businesses are starting to make the move into new offices, replacements for the buildings destroyed last May. In some cases, the new buildings are turning out to be better than the old ones.

One business that is planning on beginning the move into new quarters by the end of this week is Com-Tec Mobile Radio, owned by Wes Webb, who also serves as the Mayor of Glenville. The tornado destroyed both the original building and some equipment. It was not as efficient or effective working out of temporary quarters, said Webb. He’s looking forward to moving into the new building.

Resources and people from outside the community were of great help, he said. And the response from the county and the state was especially strong, particularly on the night of the storm and over the next few days. Federal aid was a more mixed bag, Webb said.

&uot;FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was helpful for aid to the city and school. The only thing that really fell short was SBA. Very few businesses were able to make use of help from them,&uot; said Webb. The SBA (Small Business Administration) has complicated criteria, Webb said. Among other things, all financial assistance is turned into a loan from the federal government, and local business people didn’t like that.

&uot;The end result was not very usable. It just wasn’t practical to make use of SBA assistance,&uot; Webb said.

Another business owner, also in the midst of rebuilding, echoed the observation about help from the federal government.

Larry Knutson, along with his brother Robert, owns Knutson Oil. They are hoping to relocate into a new office on Main Street in January. Currently they are working out of space leased in a building owned by Tony Trow, another local business owner.

Knutson Oil was started by their father, Harold Knutson, and celebrated 50 years of operation Oct. 1. It employs nine people, including the two brothers.

&uot;When it comes to the SBA and FEMA, people automatically think that they’re a helping hand, there to help you get through, but they didn’t do nothing. SBA wanted to know everything about everything. If we get help from them, then if we want to do anything else down the road we have to answer to them instead of the local banker,&uot; said Knutson. FEMA doesn’t really help anyone unless they have no other resources – no insurance and no savings, he said.

&uot;My scenario is I wanted to replace what we lost in the tornado and I wanted help with the difference between what the insurance paid us and the actual costs of rebuilding,&uot; Knutson said. But things didn’t work out that way.

From his perspective, the refusal of the county commissioners to reduce the fees for building permits for repairs and replacements of buildings destroyed in the tornado also hurt.

Another local business is making use of SBA assistance, however. Stan Bremseth, of Stan’s Corner Market, is planning on rebuilding his grocery store, which was damaged in the tornado, using financing arranged through the SBA.

That isn’t to say it’s easy for him either. So far he hasn’t been able to get started with construction of a new building.

&uot;There’s lots of paperwork. It’s complicated getting everything in, and getting it approved,&uot; said Bremseth.

Members at First Lutheran Church feel lucky that their building didn’t suffer more damage than it did last May.

There was quite a bit of damage to the church roof, but the tornado went right past the church building and could easily have taken the whole building, said Rev. Mark Wendland, pastor at First Lutheran Church of Glenville. But the congregation and the community pulled together.

&uot;I don’t know if the tornado caused it or not, but people here are very supportive of each other. It’s energizing to be around people with such positive attitudes,&uot; said Wendland. Small towns can often be focused on just surviving, on how things are dying off or closing down, but there isn’t that feeling in Glenville, he said.

&uot;There’s a new perspective. The general theme is thankfulness that nobody was killed, a perspective of sharing time and resources,&uot; Wendland added.

&uot;Overall, things are better now. Recovery is ahead of what I expected back at the beginning of May, when things looked so bad,&uot; Webb said.