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Lighthouse owners must clean up or face legal action

By Kay S. Pedrotti After more than a year of legal wrangling, the Lighthouse Restaurant rubble still poses a hazard to the community, says Lamar County code enforcement officer Wimpy Vaughan. No action could be taken by the county to force cleanup of the property, Vaughan says, before the arson trial of Stephen Brehaut, co-owner, and the resolution of insurance claims and coverage. In August Brehaut pleaded guilty to first degree arson and insurance fraud before Judge Tommy Wilson. The judge released him with 20 years’ probation, $100,000 restitution to Wise and restaurant creditors, $9,000 restitution to Lamar County for the cost of fighting the blaze and $241 to Milner for water expenses resulting from the blaze. The building is now free to be disposed of. Some work had already started but has stalled, adds Vaughan. ’I’m in the process of taking legal action on the cleanup,’ says Vaughan. ‘I’ll send letters of intent to Stephen Brehaut, Elizabeth Brehaut and Sherry Wise, the three owners of record. There will be a 30-day deadline to have the work done or in progress. Then if there is no compliance fines or costs could result.’ The Lighthouse had been operated by them since 1982; Sherry Wise and the late Loretta Brehaut were co-owners. When Loretta died, her share of the business passed to Stephen and Elizabeth. Lamar County and fire personnel from eight surrounding communities fought the fire through the night of July 10-11, 2012.

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