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DHS building

The former movie theater that is an office for the Department of Human Services in downtown West Union collapsed Wednesday.

WEST UNION —The former movie theater that is an office for the Department of Human Services in downtown West Union collapsed Wednesday.

Anyone being served through the office is being directed to the DHS field office in Independence. Phone calls to the Fayette office are being automatically routed there. The Independence phone numbers are 319-334-6091 and 800-642-6609.

Fayette Newspapers reported that nearby citizens said they heard a a loud boom at about 4:55 p.m. and the building was on the ground. No one was in the building at the time of the collapse.

According to building owner Ray Steffens, office workers left the building at noon and construction workers evacuated just minutes before the building fell after they were inspecting structural issues with the building, Fayette Newspapers reported.

In the building next to the collapsed theater, the Michael Insurance Agency is operating as normal.

According to online property records, the DHS building at 129 N. Vine St., was constructed in 1884. Its 2019 total assessed value was $149,580.

Helping people access state assistance programs is one of the tasks done by the Fayette and Buchanan County field offices. They are also involved with health care and with child and adult welfare.

Field offices around the state are operating with only skeleton crews, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to DHS spokesman Matt Highland. Employees whose job duties make it possible to telecommute are, he said.