Merrill Karate Teacher Looks To Rebuild After Roof Collapse

Mother Nature continues to put pressure on us with the large amounts of snow falling this winter, and after so much heavy snow, especially on roofs, something has got to give.

Unfortunately, the weight of the snow was too much to hold for one Merrill man's roof, and now he's raising funds to rebuild his business.

The owner of Merrill Karate Club and Center of Martial Arts practiced the sport since he was six years old.

Along with his passion to learn the sport, his drive to teach children to turn negative energy to positive has grown too.

However, that skill is now put to the test, ever since he walked in just minutes before his business literally came crashing in.

Jonathon Gartmann teaches kids karate and discipline.

"This martial arts school, the karate school, my students," Gartmann said, "this is my everything."

"He teaches to defend yourself, to defend your family and your community," karate student Ethan Schnider said.

But after a trip to Chicago for a competition with his students he returned Sunday night to destruction.

"When I walked in, I saw my roof on my floor," Gartmann said. "I don't even know how to put it into words. I honestly doubted what I was doing for a minute."

He said the century-old building's roof collapsed about 7:30 p.m., Sunday thanks to the snow.

"After talking to some neighbors, we missed it by six minutes," Gartmann said.

He said he's glad it collapsed when it did because he was set to buy the space from the bank that next Monday morning.

"We did get lucky there. About 24 hours later at 7:30 Monday night, I would have had 32 kids in class ranging between 8 years old and 12," Gartmann said.

On Tuesday, he stood just a step inside the door looking at the destruction.

"Two years worth of work," Gartmann said. "Ten minutes and it's all gone."

He said he's thankful the bank's insurance is covering the costs of damages, but now he's hopeful he can raise money to build a new and improved facility so he can get back to teaching his kids the best skill you can learn on the yellow mat: mental strength that stems from within.

"I think yes that stinks," Gartmann said. "But now we're going to build something new."

Gartmann said he was told the roof was fixed last year, but he said he thinks there was just a rubber layer added to the top.

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