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Re-elect Cindy Carter Grant County Commissioner

Progress coming on dangerous building


Progress, albeit slow, on the “dangerous” building issue in Grand Coulee, is moving forward.

A meeting between the city Building Inspector Gary Lampella, and attorney Tom Geiger, who represents the Vlachos family, didn’t occur last Wednesday as scheduled, but Geiger wrote to the city and to Birdie Hensley, who oversees the Coulee Pioneer Museum, and his message is promising.

Lampella had declared the museum building that Constantinos Vlachos had owned at 136 Spokane Way “dangerous,” and was working with the city council to raze the colorful building. Lampella said that the old museum was a hazard and that he feared something bad could happen to it.

The city council was responsive and was moving toward court action to remove the building.

Geiger, who has overseen the property on a pro bono basis (without charge), stated in his letter to the city and Hensley that he would like to see museum volunteers go through the buildings and remove those items that needed to be saved for historical purposes, so the property could be disposed of.

Geiger stated that the cost of removing the buildings would closely match the value of the property, and that he had received indications of some interest from people for purchasing it.

The old museum stands beside the old Carpenter Hall, currently being remodeled by Solveig Chaffee for the Voltage Coffee House, a new business she plans to open this spring. The old museum is located within a couple of feet of the remodeled building.

Hensley said last Friday that she plans to contact Geiger to see how to get into the buildings.

She started the Coulee Pioneer Museum in Electric City a few years ago in a building owned by A.J. Gerard.

Geiger stated in his letter that Constantinos immigrated to this country from Greece in 1895. Both he and his wife, Bertha, are deceased.

Geiger is in contact with the only living relatives, which include an elderly East Coast man. None have any interest in the property.

Vlachos is most famous for his Tri-Phibian automobile that was powered by a “ThermoHydraulic” motor. The frame of the auto is rumored to be inside the old museum building on Spokane Way. While demonstrating the vehicle in the nation’s capital in 1934, the machine blew up and caught fire, nearly killing Vlachos and hospitalizing him for about nine months. Vlachos held some 20 patents, and is remembered here for, in his later years, sitting in front of his brightly colored museum, waving at passersby.

“It appears to me that with some cooperation, we can get this matter resolved,” Geiger wrote.

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