Dozens of community members, including small-business owners and Marshal Greg Countryman, have rallied to raise money and other support for the residents of The Ralston Towers after a man died Thursday of a heat-related illness and a health condition in his room.
Candi Messer and Christy Marie started the conversation by posting in several local Facebook groups asking members to consider donating fans, ice water or their mechanical expertise to see if they could figure out a solution for Ralston residents.
“They need help. We are to love our neighbors and show compassion in our giving,” said Countryman in a comment.
He pledged $100 to help if a donation would be taken up.
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The building’s management told the Ledger-Enquirer Thursday afternoon that they purchased a fan for every resident, but local groups, including WRBL and Valley Rescue Mission, have organized a drive to collect more fans to be distributed at the complex.
The Ralston is a subsidized-housing complex for low-income citizens. Charles Hart, 60, was pronounced dead at 5:23 p.m. in his room at the 211 12th St. facility Thursday. His room was 98.6 degrees, according to Chief Deputy Muscogee County Coroner Freeman Worley.
The air conditioner was not working in that part of the building, it was later discovered.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson released a statement after the death expressing her concern.
“We are troubled by this loss of life that appears to be heat related. We have and will continue to strive to ensure that all citizens of Columbus have a safe and inhabitable place to lay their head. The Ralston is no exception, and we will continue to enforce the law and see that the Ralston complies with it.”
The facility is facing an August deadline to bring the facility up to code after it was declared unsafe in March.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE