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Argusville school to finally come down

County board gives couple who has owned the property for 13 years 30 days to demolish it themselves

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The former Argusville school building is seen Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Argusville, North Dakota. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

ARGUSVILLE, N.D. — A long abandoned school building here that has been condemned for more than four years is finally going to come down.

Cass County Commissioners this past week voted unanimously to give the current owners — James and Deborah Baumler — 30 days to demolish the structure about 15 miles north of Fargo. Otherwise, the county will do so and assess them for the work and back taxes, as well as put a lien on the nearly $7 million in property, mostly farmland, they own in the county.

The dangerous property, in a report from a few years back, said 50% of the school was decayed with a partially collapsed roof, failing exterior and boarded up windows.

The board canceled a possible sale of the property for Tuesday, Nov. 16, after the county officially took over the property for the Baumlers' failure to pay taxes last month.

Commissioners said they didn't want to go through another delay in having the building torn down if the property was sold.

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Commission Chairman Chad Peterson also said he doubted anyone would buy the property, as the estimated cost for demolition is between $250,000 to $450,000, including needed asbestos removal.

"I would think they could do it (demolition) for a lot less," said Peterson about the 30-day option for the Baumlers to tear the building down themselves. "It's not a safe building."

The Baumlers, who quit paying property taxes on the building starting in 2018, had a few contacts with the Argusville City Council and at one point said they wanted more time to sell the structure.

At numerous meetings neither the couple, who purchased the building in 2008, nor their representatives attended.

When contacted by The Forum this week, Jim Baumler declined to comment.

Chief Deputy State's Attorney Tracy Peters said the cleared land could be sold, which tax law says would then be taken off the Baumlers' bill. However, the couple would be responsible for the demolition costs and back taxes.

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