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The North Bend Eagle

Clearing the fire lots for expansion
Roch Emanuel spends a sunny Saturday cleaning up the lots north of his welding business. He will soon expand his shop into the lots he bought after they were destroyed in the Dec. '09 fire.

Emanuel working to expand welding shop

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/14/11

Twenty months after the fire that changed North Bend’s downtown area and many lives, Roch Emanuel is still digging up remains of the December 2009 fire.

He spent last Saturday moving dirt and smoothing off the area west of the site where an expansion to his welding shop is being built.

“You can’t believe the things I’m finding,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel bought the three lots north of his building. One, the former A Little Off the Top Salon, was originally built as a meat market, but from 1916 until 1962 it served as a movie theater. Emanuel said he can see evidence of the slant in the floor. It was wooden at one time and when concrete was poured and the floor leveled out, all sorts of “junk” was placed in the hole. Emanuel found beer bottles, medicine bottles and other unidentifiable items. More that 12 truckloads of concrete have already been hauled away from the site.

Footings have been poured for a 80 by 50 foot addition to Emanuel Custom Welding’s shop with local contractors working on the project. BnE is doing the concrete, Alex Legge Plumbing the plumbing, Mullally Heating and Air Conditioning the heating. Emanuel’s nephew, Mike Emanuel from Hartington, will be putting up the metal building.

The new building will have a door to the east, with a power pole and two-thirds of the quonset hut currently sitting on the site needing to be moved. A smaller overhead door will open to the west.

Once the building is up, Emanuel will work on the west 40 feet of the current building’s north wall. This area had the most damage from the fire and the business’s office was moved out for safety reasons.

“It’s a two-phase project,” Emanuel said. “Once we get done with this building, then we can work on the front part.”

The office and parts storage area has to be totally rebuilt.

The 63-foot-wide and 40-foot-deep area west of the new addition (on Main Street) will be not be used for now. Emanuel said they will probably put rock down, but there’s no plans to do anything with the area at this time.

“We’re going to keep our options open,” Emanuel said. “We have no plans at this time.”

Cindy and Jake Limbach own the fourth lot ravaged by the fire. Their former bar, the Pour House, sat north of Emanuel’s property, just south of the auditorium. Cindy Limbach said they have some ideas for using their now-empty lot, but they are not ready to announce anything at the present time.

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