‘Cat house’ may escape wrecking crew

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New owner says he plans to gut, restore home

A Gillett man has purchased the Oconto Falls house that was condemned because of a cat infestation and says he intends to make full repairs.

“I expect it’ll take four, five months to get everything out of there, cleaned up, and decide what we’re going to do,” Guy Farvour told the Oconto Falls City Council on Nov. 30.

Farvour said he closed on the house at 306 Jackson St. on Nov. 29 and immediately got to work gutting and cleaning out the structure.

“We’re getting everything out, the drywall, everything,” he said.

Oconto County Judge Jay N. Conley issued a written decision Sept. 25 requiring Roberta Olshesky to comply with the city’s repair-or-raze order, which she had fought since it was issued in July 2016.

The unoccupied house first came to the city’s attention when around 30 cats were found living there and removed in October 2015. The house reeked of cat feces and urine, and mold also was discovered later.

The 84-year-old woman and her friends worked on their own to restore the structure because she could not afford the $18,000 to $27,000 cost to have it done professionally, but Conley said “the city does not have to wait forever.”

As recently as May 17, City Administrator Vicki Roberts and Building Inspector Bobbie Krozell entered the house but were turned away within a few feet by the smell of urine and feces. Conley issued his ruling after making a personal visit to the house Sept. 11.

City Attorney Larry Jeske said the new owner needs to make the home fit for human habitation again and pass an inspection by a public health inspector.

The remediation should fix all of the issues raised in an estimate submitted by ServiceMaster in 2016, Jeske said.

The proposal called for cleaning throughout the house, mold mitigation and sealing of any remaining cat odor.

Farvour told the council he intends to work and fully cooperate with city and county public health officials in bringing the structure up to code. Asked if he intends to rent or “flip” the property, he said it’s too early to tell.