Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Crap in Our Back Yard

These two pieces of crap sit behind the "Old Crack House". The windows are all broken and the plumbing and furnaces have been ripped out. The back doors are open or the boarding is busted out and kids play in them. They were built around 1915 or so as two woodstove houses by Leonard Volkenand, who lived in our place from 1904 until his death in 1937. That means they were heated with a stove upstairs and one downstairs. They were problem rentals for us when we bought the place and in really bad shape. When the owner died they were left to her daughter who inherited another 7 just like them. She evicted the tenants for humanitarian reasons (nobody should have to live with that many fleas) and has done nothing with the properties for the last 4 years. She hasn't paid the taxes either. Her daughter lives across the street and won't do anything about them. She won't even cut the grass. We would be happy to get these and demolish them and expand our back yard but we run into a problem. The county sold the tax liens to a bank in Florida. The liens total $12,000 and the cost to demolish these will be about $8000 and the two empty lots are worth maybe $6000 because they are too small to build on under the new zoning code.
There is a program that the city offers residents to acquire abandoned property and get the delinquent taxes forgiven. Taxes have to be two years in arrears for the property to qualify. Basically we would fill out an application form and deposit $1000 with the city. This is used to force a sheriff sale on the property. The first sale is for the taxes owed. If there is no sale it will be put up a second time with no minimum bid. If nobody buys it, the city acquires it and then gives it to us and keeps the $1000. If someone buys the property we get our deposit back. Since the liens keep getting sold to this bank in Florida, these properties taxes are no longer in arrears so we can't attempt to acquire the properties. So they will sit empty and vacant for another 5 years or until the city sends out the demolition crews to tear them down. They add that bill to the delinquent tax bill so the problem perpetuates itself until the bank realizes that it is sitting on a very expensive piece of crap that they will never be able to sell or collect on.

I mentioned this problem to our mayor last week. The information entered her right ear, ricocheted off a couple of brain cells and created a foggy glaze over her eyes. She looked in my direction and said "You need to talk to the county auditor." Now I'm willing to do that but my thought is "Yeah right, like my two crappy properties matter to the county auditor! Do you think he's going to make a call to the bank in Florida that got bilked by him for a couple hundred grand to recall $12,000 in liens?" She said that this is a county problem, not a city problem but the truth is that it IS a city problem because there are many other houses like these within city limits.

My experience in this town is that the city administration does not communicate with the county administration. I think it is a political party thing which is so stupid in this day and age because our governments are supposed to serve "We the people ..." and the people in the city of Dayton are getting served poorly as a result of our elected city leaders not being willing to work with county elected leaders because they aren't members of the same political party, even though it would be the right thing to do.

I'm pretty certain that if the right person investigates this, they will find at least 50 or even more properties about the city in a similar situation. At least nine being owned by the above mentioned lady. If the person investigating would happen to work for the city and would approach the county auditor about this problem then these bad property liens could be swapped out for good ones that have more recent delinquent taxes. This would free these real crap properties up to be acquired by residents who care or land banked by the city planning department.

I have spoken with people in the planning department, the building inspection division and economic development since and will get the opportunity to present this at a neighborhood housing committee meeting that I attend next week.
I am so fed up with the way our city government doesn't work as effectively as I KNOW it can that I went to the board of elections and asked what I need to run for mayor next year. The gentleman behind the desk looked me square in the eye and said "A prayer."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Drugs By Mail

While I was reviewing the 1874 edition of the Dayton paper to find Samuel Edgar's obituary the other day I came across this ad.

Painless Opium Cure

The only successful remedy of the present day. Cures without pain. Restores the nervous system to a healthy condition. Send for paper on opium eating, consequences and cure. P.O Box 475 Laporte, Ind.

This brings to mind several questions.

Do you suppose he sent you a free sample with the paper?

I wonder if they had problems with people cutting the canvas flaps on buggies and stealing the banjo, harmonica or sheet music left sitting on the passenger seat so they could pawn it for the price of a postage stamp?

I wonder if they referred to these people as poppy heads?

I wonder if opium dens were privately owned or if they were rentals or abandoned property?

Do you suppose there were ride by shootings or people who would break into your home while you were at the market and load wagons with all your belongings so they could afford to order a years supply of opium from the Professor?

I wonder what his cure was?

It is kind of funny that the guy selling the stuff is named Meeker. The dictionary defines "meek" as "patient under injuries; long suffering."

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I've Been Up To.

I've been working on the resident house for the last few weeks doing all those small but time consuming jobs that I would have done years ago if we had never bought the "Crack House." Things like re-tiling behind the sink and putting in the baseboard molding that has been leaning against the wall for at least two years.

Then there was the threshold that had to be made because we were tired of kicking up the tiles as we entered the bathroom.

I also made this access panel to cover the hole that lets you shut the water off to the bath tub. I used some left over oak flooring for this. The top part of the frame is glued to the door cover and not to the wall. As such, it acts as a handle to slide the door up to expose the hole that it covers. I was pretty chuffed with myself when I made this.

Then there is the garden. This has been neglected for years and was quite a mess. I have managed to get about two thirds of it under control but still have to tidy up those raised beds in the back.

As you can see, Elizabeth needs to learn how to park. This vehicle is very much like her dads old van. The battery is removed and the thing isn't running. I wonder if I could con someone into paying me $125.00 to tow it away?

I have rebuilt the framing around the dishwasher in the kitchen and have to make a concrete slab to replace the crappy laminate section of counter that doesn't match the rest of the counter. I also caulked the edge of all the ceiling molding and countless other gaps that have been visible since I moved here 14 years ago!
I also started sorting out the crap in my basement. There is still much to purge. It is sad that you finally get a place to look how you want it to right before you try to sell it ....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Demise of Samuel D.

I was at the library today and did something I have been meaning to do for many years. I pulled the microfilm for the October 1874 Dayton Newspaper to review the obituary for Samuel Edgar. The original owner of the Old Crack House. Samuel died from a paralyzing stroke. Several days before he died this appeared on the front page of the newspaper;

Serious Illness of S. D. Edgar

The many friends and acquaintances of our venerable townsman, Mr. S.D. Edgar, will regret to learn that he is suffering from an attack of paralysis, from which it is feared he may not recover. He retired on Sunday evening, apparently in his usual health, and yesterday morning, when a member of the family went to summon him to breakfast, he was found lying on the floor in an insensible condition. A physician was called, when upon examination, it was ascertained that Mr. Edgar had been stricken with paralysis. His left side was completely powerless and up to yesterday evening he was in an entirely unconscious condition, unable to speak or recognize his friends. The physicians who visited him yesterday regard the attack as necessarily fatal.
Mr. Edgar is one of the oldest citizens of Dayton, having been born and reared on the farm on which he lives, seventy eight years ago. (This should read sixty eight years ago). By industry and economy during his long life, he has amassed a large fortune, and although suffering for several years with partial blindness, he has been able to superintend his extensive business affairs, and up to the time of his sudden prostration was unusually active and vigorous for one of his age.

Then a few days later this obituary was published. I learned something new about good old Samuel! Can you say "Moonshine?"

Obituary - Death of an Old Citizen

Mr. Samuel D. Edgar, whose serious illness was announced in Tuesday's Journal, died Thursday morning after remaining in the unconscious condition from the time of his first attack Sunday night. Mr. Edgar was one of the oldest citizens of Dayton, and was highly esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances in the city and country. He was born March 25 1806, on the farm now in the corporation, on which he has resided until his death. His father, Robert Edgar was a native of Staunton, Augusta county Virginia, born in 1770, where his father lived, and was killed by the Indians in 1790. After the death of his father, Robert emigrated to Ohio settling first at Cincinnati, and removing thence to Dayton about the year 1796. In the year 1797 he was married to Mrs. Margaret Kirkwood, and took up his residence on the grounds now occupied by the Holly Water Works buildings, where he lived two or three years, and by hard labor earned the money to purchase eighty acres in the eastern part of the city at two dollars per acre, which is still the Edgar farm, on which Samuel D. Edgar lived all the sixty eight years of his life.
When he arrived at the age of maturity Mr. Edgar commenced working for himself, and with the aid of his father, who furnished a small amount of capital, started the first distillery in the county, which he worked a few years and made some money, which he invested in real estate in the city. He afterwards became proprietor of a large amount of property in the eastern part of the city and was one of the proprietors of the Dayton Hydraulic Company which has added so largely to the manufacturing interests of Dayton. He was president and superintendent of the company for several years, and after retiring from the position, devoted the remainder of his life to the improvement of his farm, on which he resided in a pleasant suburban residency on Wayne Street in the suburbs of the city. He was one of the stock holders in the Wayne and Fifth Street Railroad Company, and was the first president of the company, and was one of the most active members of the company, contributing liberally of his means to secure the success of the enterprise. During his long residence in Dayton, Mr. Edgar has enjoyed the considerence and esteem of a large circle of friends. Although almost incapacitated for business for several years past by partial loss of sight, he has been able to be about until stricken down by his late illness, and always had a friendly word of recognition for his numerous friends. In the management of his business affairs he has been a good citizen, contributing his means literally to many public enterprises in the city. He was the father of four children, three of whom survive him, all married.

I used to believe that Samuel inherited his fathers farm as he was the eldest surviving child at the time of his fathers death. It turns out that this was not the case. He was given 40 acres for a farm and the 80 acres that included a stone quarry a couple of miles up the road by his father in 1832. He added to the farm over the next several years. His younger brother was given the rest of the farm, about 100 acres. When the younger brother sold a prime piece of real estate in 1857 Samuel made arrangements to buy the remaining 90 or so acres from him, borrowing money in order to acquire the property. I suspect he was actually trying to preserve the family farm as the city limits started to encroach on his property line. Had he lived a few more years, our neighborhood would look a lot different.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A New Twist to the Housing Crisis

This is all hear say so it won't stand up to rigorous questioning in court but I heard it from someone who knows someone that I also know who says their home equity line of credit has been cancelled by their bank because home values in their area have decreased and the bank doesn't want to risk losing any money.

The bank isn't calling in the note. They are stopping any additional spending. The person's payments are current and on time so their own actions haven't caused this to occur. Just a heads up in case it happens to anyone reading this. I wouldn't want you to write a check from your home equity line only to have the bank stop payment.

This kind of sucks really. The banks are willing to make sub prime loans to the wrong types of people and then make the right people pay for the banks error by preventing them from making additional improvements to their homes. This whole thing has been ridiculous really. Let's face it, would you buy a sub prime car? How about a sub prime steak? A sub prime insurance policy even? How about a sub prime boat?
For anyone who isn't aware of this little tidbit, if you lose your home and the bank takes a short sale at the sheriff auction, well they 1099 the loss back on you and you owe the IRS taxes like it is income. So you don't just lose your house but it costs you money to lose it too.
What does this mean? Let's say you buy a house that is really worth $70,000 with "No Money Down" for $100,000 and don't make payments on it for 6 months. The bank calls in the loan and evicts you from the property. The house sells at auction for $50,000 a year later because while you were gone the furnace, water heater and plumbing got ripped off by a meth head scrapper and a couple of windows were bust out so they could throw the stuff out of the house. The bank took a $50,000 loss which they write off their taxes by sending you a Form 1099 which puts their loss in your pocket. So you owe the IRS taxes on $50,000 like it was a lottery prize. Can you say "I'm phucked?" They didn't teach you this in home economics class, did they?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Final Solution!

Well it seems that no-one is interested in my ugly green plastic tiles that I so carefully removed from behind our third floor toilet and placed in a box. The guy at the local library who reads this blog even feels bad because he can't think of anything that they could utilize them for in the way of crafts for kids. Besides, I wouldn't want kids touching these things without them being sterilized first. (The tiles, not the kids!) I would be ashamed to take them to a re-use shop since they will probably throw them away anyway, not that I am against them going into a land fill mind you. So I've thought about it for a while and have come up with the "Final Solution." No. I'm not going to burn them or bury them in the back yard. I won't decoupage them on any furniture or use them as cheap crappy drink coasters. I think the best thing I can do with them is seal up the box, place it under the floorboards with a note and a picture so that someone can find them in 50 years or more and say "WHAT THE PHUCK!"

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

WAR! What is it Good For?

So you want to know what Point Pleasant, West Virginia is famous for? Well I won't go into great lengths to explain things because there is much written about the place. The first thing it is famous for is the battle that took place there in 1774. If you believe in conspiracy theories then this is a very important battle. If you are a native American then the place is the burial place of a great warrior who happened to be murdered while a prisoner at Fort Randolph during the Revolutionary War.
We were in Point Pleasant for a reenactment at the reconstructed Fort Randolph in Krodel Park. In fact, here is a photo of my two favorite women in the tavern

while everyone else was resting outside on the porch.

It was a very small event.

People don't visit Point Pleasant to see the battlefield monument and they certainly don't go to visit the reconstructed Fort Randolph. They don't visit for the food since McDonalds and Wendy's are in competition with Bennigans. I didn't see a Home Depot, Lowes or even a Walmart in or near the town. Gas was $3.45 a gallon so that doesn't attract visitors from nearby Ohio where it is 20 cents cheaper. So, what is the real attraction in Point Pleasant? This statue stands in the heart of downtown. If you blink, you could miss it since the town is quite small.

The plaque at the base reads as follows

The red eyes remind me of how I look in the morning after sitting around a fire drinking beer until the wee hours.

You can read all about it here and if you didn't get Jens remark to yesterdays post, the product brand most recognized through the promotion of the movie about the tale is "Chapstick". The place boasts that it is the home of the "Worlds Only Mothman Museum" which you will miss if you blink too. So go rent the movie if you haven't seen it already and realize that none of it was actually filmed in Point Pleasant.

I promise that I will get back to blogging about the house real soon. I could tell you all about the rain, the flooded basement, the sewer back up two days after the flooded basement, the garden and picking up all the trash in the street and the alley that accumulates because some neighbors are pigs. The attempt to control a roof leak by plastering a chimney on the third floor while it was raining outside or the re tiling of the sink area in the resident house, and more, but that all pales in comparison when you can tell stories about Point Pleasant and Mothman! Besides, I have never been one to bitch about all the bad stuff that happens to me, just all the stupid bad stuff that everyone can identify with.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Down on the Farm

We were on a road trip this weekend. We were in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Most people have no idea what Point Pleasant is famous for so I will elaborate in another post.

In the meantime here's an old Ohio farmhouse. In Rio Grande Ohio.

This is a picture from the other side.

Between 1953 and 1971 it was the residence of a now famous (and deceased) businessman. Can you guess who it was?

Wait for it .......

Here is a picture of some more of the property

I know, the suspense is killing you .......

Almost, but not quite ....

If you look closely you will see that he still attracts the local birds ....

OK boys and girls, can you spell Bob backwards?