Bourbon County

Millersburg academy to raze building closed by fire inspector

Rankin Hall at the U.S. Cadet Corps national headquarters, formerly Millersburg Military Institute, was shut down in June by a fire inspector. It will be torn down Monday.
Rankin Hall at the U.S. Cadet Corps national headquarters, formerly Millersburg Military Institute, was shut down in June by a fire inspector. It will be torn down Monday.

The U.S. Army Cadet Corps plans to tear down a building on its Millersburg campus that a fire inspector shut down in late June.

The Rankin building, which is more than 80 years old, will be torn down Monday, Cadet Corps spokesman Brian Lehnhardt said in an interview Wednesday.

"There's just been one issue after another finding more problems with the building than we expected," Lehnhardt said.

The adjoining McIntyre Building, also more than 80 years old and which also had been shut down by the fire inspector, will be renovated and brought up to modern fire codes, he said.

"After careful re-evaluation by the state and county building inspectors, it was deemed that the only way to save the adjoining McIntyre building would be to demolish Rankin," school officials said in a news release.

The U.S. Army Cadet Corps Inc., which is not part of the U.S. Army, runs a cadet program for boys and girls ages 12 to 17 who are interested in military service.

Millersburg Military Institute, which once occupied the property, closed in 2006, and the U.S. Army Cadet Corps bought it in 2009.

In late June, Mike Duffy, a battalion chief and fire inspector with the Paris Fire Department, closed the Rankin and McIntyre buildings. Cadets and adults had been living temporarily in the McIntyre building, which was being renovated, during summer camp.

Duffy was not at his office Wednesday, but he told the Herald-Leader in June that his office had received an anonymous telephone call about problems at the Cadet Corps campus. He said he went to the campus that afternoon after checking with the Millersburg Volunteer Fire Department, which has no fire inspector of its own.

Duffy said in June that he checked both the Rankin and McIntyre buildings and found a variety of problems.

He described "bare walls down to the studs," "electrical wiring dangling from the ceiling," and "kids sleeping within inches of exposed electrical wiring sticking out of the wall."

Duffy listed other problems, including missing fire extinguishers or extinguishers that were out of date or had not been refilled, inoperative fire alarm systems, missing smoke and heat detectors, and detectors that didn't work.

One of the problems was the lack of a fire wall, Lehnhardt said

"The fire codes of this era don't match up to the architecture of these two buildings," Lehnhardt said. "Once the Rankin building goes down, we'll be able to reinforce the wall on the McIntyre building that the Rankin building will expose. So that issue will be resolved."

Lehnhardt said that when the building was shut down, officials at the Cadet Corps had been working with state and local officials to bring the buildings up to modern code and upgrade all buildings on the campus. But in the news release, school officials said their attempts to bring the Rankin building up to standard "failed." Lehnhardt said some students were staying this summer in an area of the building that was being renovated, but that they were not in danger.

"We are very concerned about the safety and well-being of our kids," Lehnhardt said Wednesday. "At no time were any of our children in danger of any hazard."

Lehnhardt said the Cadet Corps recently received $100,000 from a benefactor for building improvements.

Lehnhardt said the school will save as many bricks as possible from the Rankin building, built in 1923, for a proposed clock tower that would feature a rescued clock, and building cornerstones. Quonset hut-type buildings will be built on the spot where the Rankin building now stands, he said.

"We at USAC are very concerned about preserving the history of MMI," the news release said. "We will preserve the Rankin name by salvaging the clock given to the school by the senior class of 1958, its dedication brick, the building's cornerstone, and as many bricks as possible. The bricks will be used to decorate the fronts of any new buildings placed in the Rankin building's shadow," the news release said.

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