RANKIN — A man considering opening a cannabis business in Rankin wanted to spend more time than he did Tuesday telling the village board about his plans for the future.
Instead, Daiven Kayne Michael Emling spent most of his time in front of the board explaining his past.
A resident told the board that she came across court records showing that the 30-year-old rural Rankin resident is a convicted felon. His past legal troubles include convictions for driving under the influence, possession of 30-500 grams of cannabis and unlawful video recording.
“This concerns me,” the woman told the board. “I think you guys need to do your homework.”
Emling said he understands the concerns about his past, and he said he is open to discussing it with anyone. He added that he has fulfilled his court-ordered obligations in all three cases and has learned from his mistakes.
Emling said he hopes his past mistakes do not create a distraction for the positive things he is doing today, including trying to bring a new business to the community of 617 people in northwestern Vermilion County.
“I get it; I have a record,” Emling said, “but I’m also trying to bring something to the community in a very positive manner. ... I can understand (my criminal history) needs to be brought to the public, but we need to focus on the cannabis issue and not try to slander my name.”
With his conviction for cannabis possession, Emling could qualify as a “social equity applicant” for the required state licenses for his proposed cannabis business venture, which could include a craft-growing operation on his 6-acre horse farm north of Rankin and a cannabis cafe, bakery and dispensary either at his farm or within Rankin or another town. As a social equity applicant, Emling could apply for low-interest loans to help defray his start-up costs.
Emling fielded what he termed a “healthy mix” of both concerns and positive feedback about his plans during a public hearing in Rankin in August. Some touted the sales tax revenue a cannabis business could bring to the town, while others expressed concerns about Rankin lacking its own police force or kids gaining access to the cannabis that would be sold.
Emling said Tuesday that he feels the public needs to be better educated about the cannabis industry before he proceeds with his plans in Rankin. Emling said he plans to organize an educational seminar — or perhaps a series of them — for residents of Rankin and other area towns.
“The lack of correct, new, updated information (amongst the public) was kind of astounding at the public hearing,” Emling said. “We need to correct the lack of proper, new education on this stuff. So I’m going to go out of my way to try and get something set up for this area ... and I hope anybody who has any questions about cannabis will attend that.”
No more police department?
Also Tuesday, the village board discussed the possibility of disbanding the town’s police department, which has been inactive since its last officer left the agency in August 2015.
The board made plans to take a vote on the issue as early as October.
Board President Aaron Warren said that not only are the police department’s squad cars deteriorating in condition while they sit in a garage with “ventilation issues,” but the village continues to fall further behind in keeping up to date with the rules, policies and regulations applying to law enforcement agencies.
And perhaps the ‘biggest issue,” Warren said, is finding a reliable town cop. The village has tried unsuccessfully several times in the past four years to find and secure a qualified candidate.
“I’d hate to throw in the towel,” Warren said, “but I don’t know what else to do at this point.”
Warren said he would not be opposed to the village entering into an intergovernmental agreement with another town to provide law enforcement services in Rankin. However, Warren noted that the village has already tried doing that in the past, unsuccessfully.
Trustee John Duncan said he feels finding a town cop has proven to be a fruitless endeavor. Duncan suggested disbanding the agency, noting that “we’ve gotten along this long without (an active) police department.”
Warren said trustees or residents who would like to suggest alternatives to disbanding the police department are encouraged to do so by contacting him.
“I’m open to anything — any ideas, suggestions or input,” Warren said.
➜ Warren informed the board that a number of properties in Rankin — including an old bank building on Illinois 49 — are set to be auctioned by the county to the highest bidders, after the owners of the properties failed to pay their taxes. Warren said the village has funds in its budget to buy some of the properties.
➜ Warren said the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had sent a letter to the village about the village’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Warren said it appears the agency believes updates to the permit need to be made; however, in making such a determination, the agency apparently has overlooked repairs made to the town’s sewer system. Warren said he would ask the village’s engineer, Greg Gustafson, to contact the agency and inform the agency that “this has been taken care of.”
➜ Warren said a village-owned pickup truck is in need of repair. “Its rings are going bad, and it’s starting to smoke,” Warren said.
➜ A resident said that in October, he would provide the board with a cost estimate he plans to obtain from Champaign-based Adams Memorials for the repair of the veterans’ memorial one block north of the Rankin Public Library/Village Hall building. The village would pay for the work if approved by the board.