MANKATO — While Ruth Dutler was closing her Vintage Mall in the former Dutler's Bowl building a couple of weeks ago, a landmark piece of Mankato-North Mankato history disappeared from atop the business' sign.
Since the bowling alley opened in 1965 the iconic rotosphere neon ball was lit up and rotated, until it broke around 1980.
After the rotosphere was removed earlier this month, it was reported stolen by new owners of the property, said Mankato police Cmdr. Dan Schisel. The Free Press had run a photograph of the rotosphere being taken down and listed the name of the Minneapolis sign company doing the work.
Schisel said police located the rotosphere, but after talking with the city and county attorneys decided it was not a criminal case but a civil matter.
A new owner has reportedly purchased the Dutler property, although county land records don't yet show who it is.
The property has been heading toward forfeiture because property taxes haven't been paid since 2015. Just under $200,000 in property taxes are owed.
Jerry Dutler's Bowl, operated for decades by the late Gerald Dutler, was turned into the Vintage Mall in 2016 by Ruth Dutler. Earlier this month vendors who had sold items in the mall cleared out and Dutler closed the building.
So far, there have been no court filings related to the rotosphere.
Dutler has had several civil cases filed against her, including six in the past couple of years. The cases included businesses and a law firm seeking and getting judgments against her.