Beatrice Mayor, Council tour condemned Dempster Manufacturing Plant
BEATRICE – The Beatrice Mayor and City Council took a tour of what will be one of most difficult goals to accomplish over the next several years…taking down the iconic Dempster Manufacturing plant in south Beatrice.
Driving by the huge plant in south Beatrice is one thing…..but touring the inside gives one a new appreciation of just how monumental the task of demolition will be.
"Some of the next steps are trying to see if we can acquire ownership of it....working through those processes. At the same time, trying to do some more testing down here....the more you test it, the more you find out what special landfills you have to go to for cleanup costs."
City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer and Community Development Officer Chet McGrury took elected officials through the property, which is overgrown on the outside with trees and host to wildlife of various kinds. The property has been the focus of the Environmental Protection Agency for materials dumped on site or spilled……now in containers inside one of the plant’s buildings…awaiting disposal.
"The EPA's been through here picking everything out they thought was pretty bad and got those taken away and cleaned up. Now, it's a matter of hauling off those barrels."
The maker of the famous Dempster windmill, water pumps and in more recent years…..recycling trailers and sprayers….has sat vacant for several years. The company manufactured windmills for over 124 years, producing its first one in 1892. Founded by Charles Dempster in 1878….in it’s heyday…the company employed about 500 workers and sponsored annual company picnics near the end of July to celebrate its success.
The City of Beatrice is in the process of acquiring individual parcels of the property, but has some work left to do. "We own, I believe, one of them today...and we're working on acquiring a couple of the other ones, trying to do it through the back taxes system and it just takes a little time to get through everything. The part about owning it, then you're eligible for Brownfield grants and that helps you with some of the cleanup costs....so, that's all part of the matrix you're trying to work through," Tempelmeyer said.
Today, the interior of the building is littered with metal, scraps of material, office supplies and equipment, old blueprints and company paperwork.
The tour included former manufacturing areas, paint facilities, boilers, office area and the company dining area, among others.
Over the years, the plant has been the target of thieves, stealing whatever was left behind that has some value. City officials say periodically, police have cited or arrested squatters or others caught taking property.
The plant is condemned and remains off limits to the public.