August 8, 2020

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Editorial: There is a public health emergency in Elbow Lake that is not COVID related

BY  C. A. RAY, Herald Editor

There is a public health emergency in Elbow Lake that has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. I am talking about an abandoned house on West Division Street, the last house on the left side of the street.  This house, which has been unoccupied for nearly 20 years, is full of junk, bats, fox, rats and skunks. Children ride their bikes past it, as drugs are left on the house’s decrepit entry for pick up. The grass has not been mown for years and the yard is full of knee high weeds. The house will never be lived in again and is a public health menace.

Now I admit to having a personal interest in this property. Although I do not live in Elbow Lake, my mother-in-law lived across from this house for many years, and now my sister-in law does. Both had bats in their houses at one time or another, most likely coming from the abandoned house. I have three grandchildren that live a block away, and, like most kids, find the old house irresistible to explore, especially when a family of cute foxes were found in it. Recently, neighbors say they have seen coyotes hanging around. Rabies are a constant worry.

 Not to mention fire. This old house is full of flammable materials and, given its size, if it burns, there would be a huge fire that could easily spread to occupied neighboring houses.

If this house were located on the east side of Elbow Lake, I dare say it would be long gone.

The city of Elbow Lake has been interested in purchasing this house, and tearing it down to provide an exit for the hundreds of grain trucks that use the west side Elbow Lake Co-op grain elevator. That would be a wonderful idea in that it would not only get rid of this blight on the west side, but stop the trucks from having to make a 180 degree turn, tearing up the Kube Park parking lot, and drive back through a residential area to get out of town.

Grant County Public Health, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Elbow Lake, need to get together and come up with a plan to rid the west side of Elbow Lake of this west side menace before there is a tragedy.