RANKIN — The Rankin Village Board heard concerns from residents about the condition of the town’s old grade school building during a public hearing held on the matter immediately prior to the board’s monthly meeting on April 9.

The building on the east side of Illinois 49 has been in disrepair for years and is considered not just an eyesore but a potential safety and health hazard by village officials.

Board President Aaron Warren said that for the village to obtain ownership of the property and tear down the building, it would be a massive undertaking for the town financially, even if grants are obtained. There is a concern that asbestos is present in the building, which could raise the cost of demolition.

The property is currently owned by Rankin resident Herbert Polchow, who was fined $500 after being found guilty last December of an ordinance violation in relation to the building’s deteriorating condition.

Doug Toole, administrator of the Vermilion County Public Health Department, said Polchow will continue to be fined until he cleans up the property.

Polchow’s brother, Gary, said the building will be torn down and turned into a new school for special-needs children and adults.

“We have investors involved,” he said.

Another resident then asked why those investors do not attend the board’s meetings, to which he provided no response.

One resident raised concerns about the possibility that animals living in the structure could infiltrate the surrounding neighborhood if the building is razed, but Warren said he did not think there would be much of a problem with that potential issue.

Warren asked each board member for his or her opinion on what to do with the old building, and all said they would like to see it torn down and the property cleaned up, but not at the village’s expense.

Other business

At the monthly meeting that followed the public hearing:

➜ Gary Polchow reminded the board of the town’s approaching bicentennial. Polchow said he and some other residents intend to build a reconstruction of the Village Hall and add an addition to it for a time capsule.

➜ Gary Polchow suggested that to help curb crime, the village install surveillance cameras at Centennial Park, Village Hall and on “nature trails.”

➜ A resident questioned Gary Polchow about a huge hole he had dug in his yard for ice skating. The resident was concerned that the water in the hole would become a mosquito-nesting site. Polchow said he would put something in the water to prevent that from happening.

➜ Warren asked board members to review the proposed annual appropriation ordinance and then bring back any changes they would like to see made to the next meeting.

➜ Board members agreed that the liquor ordinance needs updating. Last month, the board learned that the Illinois Gaming Board is requiring the village to amend the liquor ordinance before a previously approved change in hours for the Rankin Rangers Pub & Grub can proceed. In December, the board had voted to allow the bar to be expand its hours of operation on Sundays from noon to midnight, instead of 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Changes to be made to the liquor ordinance include the possibility of raising the cost of liquor licenses, extending bar hours and allowing the local Casey’s General Store to sell hard liquor.