Nearly a month after a tornado heavily damaged the Wisner-Pilger Middle School, a wrecking ball is now finishing the job.
Demolition began at eight o'clock Friday morning, after one last walk thru of the building by Superintendent Chad Boyer. Engineers had recommended demolition, over rebuilding. They said the foundation was too unsound to rebuild and it would be too costly to try.
Many teachers, students, and former students were on site for the demolition. Bricks from the building will be available to residents.
Klay Koehlmoos remembered the June 16th tornado as he watched his school come down. The 6th grader said, “The tornado started over there and it came through here."
Across the parking lot - more memories. Pi Page is 92-years-old, graduated from Pilger High School in 1939 and coached there in the 1940s. This was difficult for him to watch
“It's a sad note to see it,” he said. “Every town needs a school and I'm afraid this is it for Pilger."
Michelle Moeller worked at the school. She was too sad to talk.
Wisner High teacher Gregg Moeller said, “The whole area is losing an icon. This represented the town and it represented so many people. My daughters went to school here. My wife worked here."
It's a sentiment shared by Eugene Sateren, a 1969 graduate of the school who told us it’s, “sad to see it go down this way, yes, because of the destruction of the whole town and everything. I’m just kind of sorry to see everything disappear."
Gregg Moeller said, “This hurts. This is gonna hurt a lot of people losing this but the town is tough. They're gonna move on from this."
Pi Page shares Gregg’s belief in the town’s spirit. He told us, “I know Pilger people. They'll make it. It'll take some time but they'll be back. It's quite a community."
The demolition is expected to take several days to complete. Students will attend classes in trailers when school resumes next month.
Across the street from the Middle School, there was once a row of houses. Now, they are empty lots and many are still trying to decide whether to rebuild.
Volunteers are still needed in Stanton County, especially to help with heavy machinery. The American Red Cross told WOWT 6 News that counselors are also needed to help the families work through this tragedy.