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E.C. Sheriff Evicts Elderly Amish Couple

Written By: ECJ Staff  |  Posted: Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department padlocked the front door of an elderly Amish couple's home while a group of Amish men stood by. A young Amish woman cried as she watched the police bar the doors and drive off while the old couple watched helplessly. The battle with the county has gone on for more than five years and now the couple is "turned out into the street" all because their house doesn't meet state building code requirements.

Henry Mast and his wife have been renting the home in Fairchild from his son in law, Clemens Borntreger, who now lives in Iowa. Borntreger built the home over six years ago and failed to obtain a building permit. According to Felty Borntreger, the owner's father, Steve Maley, the Eau Claire County Building Inspector, notified them that they needed to have the building inspected before they continued with the project. Maley allowed them to put the building under roof before winter.  But after a long while, no inspectors came, so they continued with the work.

In 2010, Maley and the County Environmental Health Specialist, Michael Jensen, entered the house and determined that the house was unsafe because the rafters did not meet building code requirements. The house has withstood six winters now, some with heavy snow, yet the inspectors claim the roof may collapse. Felty asserts that the building is sound, "We try to be plain people and we try to build our buildings strong and plain, that's the way we would like to keep it. We worked as a group, the whole community...I can't see how someone can look at those trusses and say that they will fall in."

The Masts are now staying with their son in the Fairchild area. Henry is allowed to use his work shop but is not allowed to enter his home or retrieve his possessions that were left in the house. Police posted a sign on the doors of their home that reads, "Per court order (case #11cv926) issued on April 9th 2012 by honorable William M. Gabler, this structure shall not be resided in until Eau Claire County determines the structure is in compliance with the Eau Claire County code of general ordinances." The house sits empty with no resolution in sight.  One Amish man commented about the situation, "It just doesn't seem right that they can do such a thing, to cast them out of their home."

- ECJ Staff

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