Tahlequah Daily Press

November 22, 2013

City: Stepping Stones Rooming House will be forced to close

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — City officials confirmed late Thursday night that the Stepping Stones Rooming House on East Chickasaw Street, where a 3-year-old child died Tuesday morning, will be forced to close “soon.”

Mayor Jason Nichols said the timeline for the closure had not been established as of Thursday night. A number of people, including some families, are staying in rooms at the facility.

“Based upon the medics, the police, the firefighters who responded to the emergency call during the tragic incident Tuesday, we knew that the living conditions were worse than we had ever imagined,” Nichols said. “We felt that it was necessary to send some officials into the facility to investigate those conditions. What they found, frankly, was deplorable.”

Nichols said Fire Chief Ray Hammons told management at the rooming house that a closure notice would soon be dispatched. But before then, Hammons, Nichols, code enforcement officials and others will meet to discuss the violations they found at the facility.

“There has been no timeline given for residents of Stepping Stones to leave,” said Nichols. “Part of what we ultimately decide will including the logistics and the consideration for other accommodations and, of course, ultimately, safety is the biggest concern.”

Nichols said most problems at the rooming house involve fire-safety regulations.

“But there were many others, like health-related issues including a lack of restroom facilities, and a bug infestation,” said Nichols.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com