Daiven Kayne Michael Emling

Daiven Kayne Michael Emling speaks with Rankin residents outside the Rankin Public Library/Village Hall building following the village board’s monthly meeting in September. Emling is considering establishing a cannabis dispensary/bakery/cafe in the tiny Vermilion County village, and some residents have concerns.

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RANKIN — A man considering opening a cannabis business in Rankin is asking village board members to decide within the next month if they will allow his business in town or if he will instead need to explore alternative locations.

“I would like to know by the next meeting if you want in or not,” Daiven Kayne Michael Emling told the board last week. “I would love to set up here. I live here.”

The 30-year-old Emling first approached the board this past summer with his proposal to start a craft-growing operation on his 6-acre horse farm north of Rankin and a cannabis cafe, bakery and dispensary within Rankin.

Following a public hearing on Emling’s proposal, however, the board has yet to publicly discuss whether to allow such a business in town once the sale of recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Municipalities can prohibit cannabis sales in their communities through approval of an ordinance.

While there are Rankin residents opposed to his cannabis business, Emling said there are also people in favor of it. Emling urged village trustees to not overlook the additional sales tax revenue the town could collect.

“This small town has a huge chance at some actual revenue,” Emling said, referring to the 3 percent tax municipalities can impose on marijuana sales. “The revenue estimated could be $200,000 a year.”

Resident Melanie Hofbauer, meanwhile, said she hoped the board was considering banning local cannabis sales. Some other towns already have, including Fisher.

During August’s public hearing, some residents expressed concerns about kids gaining access to the cannabis that would be sold, as well as the fact that Rankin lacks its own police force. Coincidentally, the board agreed last week to further discuss in November the possibility of officially disbanding the town’s police department, which has been inactive since its last officer left the agency in August 2015.

Emling said he feels people opposed to the marijuana industry need to be better educated about it. Emling said he is moving forward with plans to organize at least one educational seminar/public forum in the area to address misconceptions about cannabis as well as any concerns anyone may have, including its health risks and potential access to the drug by minors.

“There are a lot of things that have been said at multiple meetings ... that show complete ignorance ... of this species of plant,” Emling told the board. “I would love to help correct that.”

Emling urged trustees to keep an open mind on the subject. He said he would appreciate their feedback.

“There are a few towns that are scared, a few mayors that are scared,” Emling said. “I hope you guys aren’t the board that’s going to let the town rule the (board’s) votes.”

Other business

Also at last week’s meeting:

➜ The board voted unanimously to spend $600 to repair the veterans’ memorial one block north of the Rankin Public Library/Village Hall building. The work will involve removing the memorial’s pavers, repairing them and then reinstalling them. The work will be done by Champaign-based Adams Memorials. The village’s engineer, Greg Gustafson, said his firm — Berns, Clancy & Associates of Urbana — would donate $100 toward the job.

➜ Trustee John Duncan gave a report about properties that the town had acquired. The board would like to sell the properties and get them back on the tax rolls. The board decided to wait to advertise the properties for sale until closer to next spring.

➜ Gustafson said the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has granted the village a “special exemption permit” for its water system. The permit allows the village to pull water samples one quarter a year as opposed to four quarters a year.

➜ Gustafson said the village should receive a “greatly simplified” permit for its sewer system once he meets with an IEPA inspector to review repairs made to the sewer system.

➜ Halloween trick-or-treating hours were set for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25.

➜ The village’s ordinance officer said several property owners have complied or are working to comply with her requests to correct ordinance violations, but there are some who are doing nothing or started to address the issues but then quit. The board was given a list of those who remain noncompliant, and the list will be turned over to the town’s attorney for further action.

➜ Noelle McGee, a reporter for The News-Gazette, informed the board that Rankin would be featured in the newspaper’s ongoing series profiling small towns in East Central Illinois. McGee told Village Board President Aaron Warren that she would like to interview him and others in Rankin.

➜ Melanie Hofbauer asked what the village paid to clean a ditch heading out of town. Warren said the village covered the entire cost of about $2,000.