Saturday, January 11, 2003

Arson ruled out in garage fire

Verona building's electrical system old, chief says

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

VERONA - This tiny southern Boone County burg continued Friday to assess the property and emotional damage from a Thursday morning fire that destroyed a 100-year-old landmark and community gathering spot.

A lot piled with rubble and charred wooden beams is all that remains of the Verona Garage, which stood for more than a century along the main road through this out-of-the-way place.

"It was definitely a part of the community," said Rusty Robinson, 46, who works at CJ's Upholstery around the corner. He lived in a house adjacent to the garage as a teenager. "People will miss it. They already do."

Verona Fire Chief Eddie Coyle, a farmer working Friday afternoon on a farm just outside of town on Ky. 491, said arson has been ruled out. He suspects the fire stemmed from the building's electrical system.

"I've been in and out of that building all of my life. The electric was old and not in very good shape. We're pretty sure that's what caused the fire," Chief Coyle said as he took a break from moving cows from a barn to a pen.

The longtime auto shop and one-time funeral parlor has been operated since the early 1900s by the Renaker family.

It was also a place where men came together each morning to talk, trade stories, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes.

A few of the men showed up at CJ's Friday morning, and others pondered where the group will meet now.

"I expect we'll see them here a lot more than we used to now that their regular place is gone," Mr. Robinson said.

Another possible location is the Verona Country Value Barn, a country general store.

"I feel for them," store clerk Ronnie Adkins said. "That was their place. That building meant something to them."


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