After decades of working out of a one-room school house, Phenix Township officials have a new township building.
To celebrate completion of the new building, the public is invited to an open house from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 11. An official ribbon cutting will be at 9:30 a.m.
For more than a decade, township officials have known they needed a new building.
"There was a complete lack of space and the old building didn't meet handicap accessability requirements," said trustee Les Strole.
The previous township hall was located in the century-old Phenix School building. A shed on the property served as a maintenance and storage building for the district.
Phenix School closed in 1965 and the building was purchased by the township for $500 in 1969, said township clerk Jan Weber.
"We never had any real offices in the school. Instead, we converted a bathroom and cloakroom into an office. In the winter we froze and in the summer we were boiling," said Weber.
In addition, a lack of storage space meant township equipment was being housed "on various farmers' farms" said Weber. "That created a liability issue for us, especially since state statues say all township equipment must be stored under cover."
In 2000, township trustees started saving money for a new facility. In 2007, they purchased 3.4 acres of land just east of their previous township building and began site work on the land.
American Eagle of Annawan received the bid to construct a new township building, which included a 2,000 square foot office area and 7,200 square foot shop/garage.
"Until we recently put the sign up saying 'Phenix Township' I think a lot of people thought it was just a farmer building a new machine shed," said Strole.
With the new building now complete, trustees plan to ask residents at the annual township meeting on April 16 for permission to sell the former township building.
Funds from the sale will go toward paying for the $570,000 building project.
Phenix Township covers an area just shy of 36 square miles. Subdivisions off Wolf Road, including Hazelwoods 1, 2 and 3; North Hazelwood, Timberbrook and Geneseo Hills, as well as Country Estates off Route 82 all belong to Phenix Township.
"We have 1,900 people in our township, but very few businesses. The township is made up mostly of subdivisions and farms," said Weber. "It's an unusual situation. Our township population is larger than some of the other townships in Henry County that actually include towns."
Before building, Phenix Township officials toured other township facilities in Illinois and Indiana for building design ideas.
"We talked to others to see what worked and what didn't," explained Weber.
Page 2 of 2 - The new township hall has been outfitted with cast-off furnishings from Hammond-Henry Hospital.
"The only thing we had was a desk from the original Phenix School. All the rest has come from the hospital," said Weber.
The new building is designed to serve the township "for 50 years or more" said Weber. Space is available to add on to the garage portion of the building, if necessary.
"We also plan to add a generator within the next year so we could serve as an emergency shelter, if needed," explained Weber.
The new building will replace the former township hall as a polling place for voters in Phenix Township.
New voters' cards with the change in polling location have been sent to voters. The new building will first serve as a polling site on April 9.
"We also hope to be able to make the building available for meetings for the various homeowners associations in the township. We'd also be willing to consider on a case-by-case basis allowing 4-H clubs or Scout troops to use the building for their meetings," said Weber.
The new Phenix Township building is located at 14850 N. 2550 Ave. in rural Geneseo.