May 16, 2013

Tuttle ice cream festival on despite fire

The Express-Star

TUTTLE — The old Tuttle bank building has been given a second chance at life by a building inspector who reports the structure is salvageable after last week's fire.

In addition, the City of Tuttle will be able to host their annual Ice Cream Festival in the area adjacent to the old bank building, despite fears the venue may have had to be changed.

The inspector evaluated the building Wednesday morning to see if damage caused by a large blaze on the second floor and water from firefighters' hoses on the bottom floor. While it needs a thorough cleaning and a new roof, the historic building will see life again, owner Lonnie Paxton said.

"The inspector just left this morning, and the verdict is the building can be saved," Paxton said. "There are a lot of people in town who want to hear this news. "There are a couple of minor things we'll need to do, but it's nothing extraordinary. "

 Questions over the venue were raised after the fire and subsequent cleanup caused Third Stree to be closed. Tuttle residents are still anxious to host the annual Ice Cream Festival on May 18, City Manager Tim Young said.

“We are doing very little in terms of changing location,” Young said. “We will merely set up a perimeter blocking off the building that caught fire.”

This will mark the 22nd annual Ice Cream Festival for Grady County, but the first year that the city of Tuttle will have hosted the event.

“I think we can pull it off quite well,” Young said. “Maybe it will be the consensus of the people that we should invest more into the event and host it again in the future.”

The festival will be open to the public at no cost from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will include live music, the Ice Cream Princess Pageant, a homemade ice cream contest, classic car show and parade. For the first time in the festival’s history however, Braum’s will reveal two new flavors of ice cream to attendees.

“Braum’s will be presenting two premium chocolate flavors at the festival that are not yet available in stores: Billionaire Shortcake and Molten Lava Cake,” Young said.

As for the bank building, Paxton said he hopes to be able to allow some of the businesses that occupied its bottom floor to begin leasing again in early 2014.

"We'll have to get an architect out here to draw the plans up for a new roof, and we'll have to do some re-tiling," Paxton said. "It won't be inexpensive, but we do not have to tear it down. Hopefully, if we turn the clock forward, it will be about a year from now. When we turn the corner to 2014, I hope to start leasing the bottom floor to businesses again."