More questions than answers for burned-out business owners

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

As fast as a fire can happen, what comes after can require some patience.

With insurance investigations ongoing into the Friday, May 17 fire that heavily damaged four downtown businesses, this is the lesson the owners are finding.

The affected businesses were Wilson's Photography, Wilson's Formal Wear and Buzz Bomb Graphics; the Pawn Store; Dr. Perry Wainman DDS and Greencastle Furniture.

"It happens quick, but it takes some time. You've got to let it take its course," Lester Wilson said.

Wilson, who co-owns Wilson Photography, Wilson's Formal Wear and Buzz Bomb Graphics with his wife Judy, said he is waiting for the insurance process to run its course. In the meantime, the Wilsons are waiting to make their next move.

As the only people displaced from their home as a result of the fire, the Wilsons had other priorities to attend to in the last 10 days.

"Losing our home was our first priority," Wilson said, "and now we're settled in."

By moving into a duplex much smaller than their former living space, Wilson says they've returned to a place the size of their first home as newlyweds.

"We feel we've just stepped back in time," he said. "We've set up in a place like we would have been 40 years ago in Rossville, Ill. And you know what? It feels OK."

That contentment is aiding the Wilsons in their patience as they wait for answers as to what the insurance will pay, what kind of shape the building is in -- both in the business and living spaces.

Wilson said he holds out some hope that at least the east half of the building, which sustained the least damage, might be able to reopen without major renovations.

What this will require remains to be seen. He said a meeting with insurance and other investigators slated for today would bring some of these answers.

In the meantime, Wilson said they are trying to catch up with photography jobs that were already in progress at the time of the fire. Some were already shot and in need of printing. Others are photo shoots that still need to take place.

Anyone wishing to reach the Wilsons for an ongoing job may do so by calling 721-0084 or by emailing or

"We're not closing down, but we might be making some changes," Wilson said.

For Dr. Perry Wainman's dental practice, the coming change will be one of location, but it remains to be seen how permanent the changes will be.

Those questions will be answered with Monday's meeting of insurance officials, investigators and engineers.

The resolution of that meeting will let Wainman know if his building can be salvaged. If it can, the move will be temporary. If not, a permanent move will be in order.

"I plan on relocating as an interim, anyway," Wainman said.

Regardless of the decision, Wainman said he is still a few weeks away from being operational at any new location.

He did add, however, that his office number of 653-8615 is operational. Patients may contact that number in order to be put in touch with another dentist temporarily.

"The plan is to get back operational as soon as feasible," Wainman said.

For Greencastle Furniture owner Joe Garrison, no relocation is currently on the horizon. The store had been operating for the last five months in the former Bright Futures building owned by Greg and Trudi Selvia.

"Unfortunately that was the perfect spot for us," Garrison said. "That's what we'd been looking for for more than a year.

Garrison said he had looked around but did not see anything that really fit the store's needs.

Instead, he has turned his energies to his other downtown Greencastle venture.

"For now, I'm just concentrating on the Downtown Café," Garrison said of his restaurant at the former Treasures on the Square. "That's the main thing."

That assurance of something more stable seems to unite the business owners. While they may be taking different directions following the fire, they share a desire to get back on their feet in some form.

For the Wilsons, that means getting their building back in order. They have already committed their share of money to the Steller Communities façade program, and Lester expects that project to move forward at some point.

He also plans to return the upstairs apartment to its former good condition.

"I don't know if we'll move back in, but I want the upstairs fixed," he said.

More than anything, Wilson said he did not want to see an empty space where his building used to be.

"I don't want this to be 'The Great Wilson Fire of '13' and there to be a big hole here," Wilson said.

The Banner Graphic has been unable to contact Tom Greenburg, owner of the Pawn Store.

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  • The Wilson's were not the only family displaced because of the fire. Darla Zeis lives above the furniture store and her apartment is unlivable at this time. There is a hole in her roof, water and smoke damage.

    -- Posted by small town girl on Wed, May 29, 2013, at 1:14 PM
  • As of today Monday June 3rd., Darla Is still in need of an apartment. I think a bedroom is what she is looking for. She too is out of a place to live. If you know of one please let her know. Leave me a message at my eMail.

    Thank You,


    -- Posted by wilsonphoto on Mon, Jun 3, 2013, at 7:17 PM
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