Friday, October 26, 2001

Lovers of log house take appeal to county

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BATAVIA — They came before the county's board of commissioners to plead for their piece of history.

        “Chilo is a very small village, but we're proud of where we live and we'd like to hang on to our history,” Chilo Mayor Shana Stevenson told the board Tuesday night. The mayor wore a “I Love Chilo” button.

        What puts this village of just 97,along the Ohio River in eastern Clermont County, at odds with the county and state is a log house headed for demolition.

        The log house, owned privately by a resident, was sold through a buyout that the county and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offered to remove structures subjected to periodic flooding.

        The village and the Committee to Save Chilo's Historic Log Cabin asked the commissioners to deed the log house back to them. They would hold the county and FEMA faultless should it be damaged by future flooding. They also said they would seek grant money to restore the structure.

        Commissioners Martha Dorsey and Mary Walker delayed any decision until the Ohio Emergency Managment Agency, which administers the program, can be contacted and asked if the log house demolition can be waived. They asked the committee to make the contact.

        “We have an agreement with Ohio EMA that requires us to remove structures that we acquire,” said David Spinney, county administrator. “There would have to be some sort of waiver to consider your request.”

        Committee members said they would do that.

        They presented the commissioners with an archaeologist's report that states the log house probably dates to the early 1800s, as well as letters of support from the Franklin Township board of trustees and Clermont County Historical Society.

        “Our village will be forever changed for the worse if the log cabin is removed,” Charles Jackson, 80, a Chilo resident, told the commissioners.

        Ray Gelter, of Tate Township, who rebuilds log cabins, said he believes the log house was built before 1850, based on the size of the logs, which are enormous, and the techniques used to construct the house.

        “It's maybe one of 50 left in Clermont County,” Mr. Gelter said. “There's not a lot of 'em left. Every one that we lose, it's another piece of history gone.”

        Commissioner Bob Proud said they have given the village time to come up with a plan, but that they cannot unilaterally decide to let the house stand.

        “We're more than willing to work with them because history is important to all of us,” said Mr. Proud.


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