PAOLA — The message was clear from Paola City Council members during their Tuesday, June 11, meeting.

They’re happy that work is being done to renovate the dilapidated former Shipman Liquor building at 115 W. Wea St., but there is an immediate need to get a roof on the structure.

“We need to see some movement on that,” Mayor Artie Stuteville told Thomas Wright, who was in attendance at the meeting.

Stuteville specifically mentioned concerns previously raised by neighboring building owner Gary Lasher, who said water is draining into his basement.

Thomas and his wife Jennifer, who recently opened All God’s Paws on the west side of Paola’s Park Square, are working to renovate the building with plans to turn it into a pay-what-you-can restaurant called “What’s For Dinner?”

They stepped forward late last year after learning about the city’s plans to label the deteriorating building a dangerous structure and have it demolished.

Earlier this year, the council gave the Wrights a deadline of 120 days to make the building safe. That deadline expired June 10, and Thomas told the council that although good progress has been made, he needs more time to submit plans and a structural engineer’s comments to the city so he can get a permit and install a temporary roof.

Thomas said weather has played a big part in the delays, but it’s also difficult to nail down an exact time schedule because almost all of the work and materials are being donated.

“We’re at the mercy of the community and the grace of God,” Thomas said.

He added, though, that more than four tons of debris has already been removed from the site, and they are installing piers to solidify the building.

“The building, in my opinion, is safe, it’s just not waterproof,” Thomas said.

He added that they have been tarping the roof before any projected rain, and he has someone lined up willing to install a temporary roof once a permit can be obtained. Thomas said they can’t install a permanent roof yet because of work that needs to be done on the interior that will tie into the roof.

Thomas said he hopes the building will be complete later this summer with the business hopefully opening and serving meals by the end of August.

The council members agreed to grant a 28-day extension with the understanding that the roof must be put on by the next council meeting July 9.

“I appreciate everything you are doing to save that building,” Mayor Stuteville said.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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