Target 8: Moberly Residents Say Cairo Mayor Unfairly Demolished Homes

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CAIRO - Two Moberly women said the mayor of Cairo bullied them by ordering their homes demolished with little warning in November.

Becky Rogers owns a second home in Cairo next door to Mayor Jerry Frans. She said the entire town of Cairo was built around her house in the 1800s. Now, that historic home is gone after she said Frans made her tear it down.

Rogers said the village of Cairo told her back in March it would be tearing down her house in six months, citing Town Ordinance 52, deeming the house to be unsafe. Rogers admitted the house was old and had termites, but she said when she asked Frans for more time to fix the problems, he would not comply.

The building inspector sent a letter to Rogers saying various officials including the fire chief, the city attorney and representatives from the city board voted unanimously to proceed with the demolition.

Worse yet, Rogers said she would have to pay the cost to bring down her own home, more than $5,700. But she found a way to avoid ponying up all that money.

"I jumped the gun and had our own contractor come and tear it down so I wouldn't have to pay the $5,750," Rogers said.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Rogers enlisted the help of her children, grandchildren and her own contractor to tear down her house. After paying for the contractor and some dumpsters, Rogers said she was out nearly $3,000. She said the mayor bullied her into doing it.

Frans refused an on-camera interview, but told KOMU 8 News over the phone that Rogers knew the stakes and even gave her 180 days to make necessary repairs.

But Rogers isn't alone. Moberly resident Connie Drewery said Frans had her unoccupied Cairo home torn down, too. Drewery said her attorney told the mayor not to touch her house. She thought all was fine until she logged onto Facebook one evening and saw pictures of her demolished home. Drewery lives in Moberly and owned this second home in Cairo.

"A lady put pictures on Facebook and showed us that they had demolished the house," Drewery said. "It makes you cry."

Drewery said she would have wanted the chance to get some furniture items out of the house. KOMU 8 News obtained the letter sent to Rogers explaining the process. The letter said "all personal property must be removed by [demolition] date with no exceptions. After that time, anything left becomes the property of the contractor."

"Dirty things were done and it's not right. It's just wrong. It's just wrong the way they did things," she said.

Rogers agreed, saying Cairo just isn't the same small town.

"We used to have a lot of friends here," she said. "Once the older people were all gone, Cairo just isn't the same anymore. The younger ones and newer people moved in and they just have no idea what Cairo used to be."

Rogers said she doesn't have any plans to rebuild on the lot, but that she will continue to host family cookouts where her historic home once stood.