New village hall marks the latest step forward on Gifford's road to recovery

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GIFFORD--Gifford is taking a huge step forward on the road to recovery with a new village hall up and running almost a year and a half after a tornado destroyed the original.

Eldon Hesterberg has lived in Gifford all his life, but he never could have predicted that his spare warehouse would become the heart of his hometown.

"My tenant kept it until this last summer when he informed me he was no longer going to need it," said Hesterberg, a retired farmer and contractor. "So that's when I approached the village about, 'hey have you done anything about a building yet?'"

The village trustees had been meeting in the Gifford State Bank since a tornado totaled the village hall in November 2013. Hesterberg's proposal came at just the right time, but they needed to make sure his offer could give them some much needed upgrades.  

"We worked as a village, worked very closely with Eldon on, 'hey Eldon this is what we're looking for, if we're going to purchase this facility from you, we're wanting office space, we're wanting a board room," said Brian Baxter, the Gifford village trustee who spearheaded the project.

Hesterberg got to work in December, three days after his tenant moved out. By early May, he rebuilt the building with everything they asked for and even gave them an attached maintenance shed.

"Let's just say it's, it's just fascinating, it's unreal," said village president, Derald Ackerman. "I didn't think we'd get it all done this quick."

Gifford trustees officially purchased the property last week, for a little more than $400,000, all paid for with insurance and grant money. They wasted no time putting it to use, hosting their first board meeting in their new chambers last Thursday.

"So far I see smiles on their faces," said Hesterberg. "So I guess I did okay."

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