Former poor farm to be demolished

Lisa Hammer

The north portion of Hillcrest Nursing Home, formerly the Henry County Poor Farm built in 1913, will be torn down this fall.

The Henry County board accepted a $199,000 low bid from Champion Environmental Services of Gilberts. There were three other bids and one was from a Henry County firm, but it was $100,000 higher than the Champion bid.

A second low bid for asbestos removal was awarded to Ironwood Environmental of Rockford for $14,400. They are to complete interior asbestos removal on pipes and floor by Sept. 12.

Champion has indicated they expect the work will take two months. The county has given the firm a Dec. 15 deadline.

Board member Jim King asked about measures to ensure the least possible disruption and inconvenience to the nursing home's residents.

A representative for Kenyon Architects said to minimize noise, contractors will only have access to the work site from a road at the north, and they'll wet down material regularly to limit dust.

“It’s impossible to have no impact due to the sheer size and weight (of materials demolished),” he said.

He added there is a connecting corridor between the old and new buildings which the demolition firm will try to preserve, but it “may or may not be possible.”

He also said utility representatives, with the help of staff, “went to great pains” to identify and isolate the old utilities from the new, which will help prevent any interruption of services.

“Champion has done many projects in Illinois and Wisconsin. They’re very experienced,” he said. “We’ll be watching them carefully and they know what they have to do.”

In other business, board members were reminded by King to contact state officials from the local representative to the governor regarding budget cuts involving state employees including those at the Bishop Hill historic sites and the Soil and Water Conservation District.

“This is hurting people right here in our county,” he said. “This is devastating to the Soil and Water District and Bishop Hill, to families in our county. Maybe one more letter will make a difference, I don’t know. To just sit and watch what’s happening to families as a result of this is very difficult. I don’t know what’s going to make a difference, but we’ve got to try everything.”

Board members also:

• learned no bids were received for the Cambridge courthouse parking lot proposal, as all four firms that are interested in the project can’t meet the deadlines; bids will be put out again in December for spring or summer '09 construction

• learned Hillcrest Home had no power for four days after the July 21 storm and used 650 gallons of diesel to run its generator

• approved Katharine Blick's zoning request from ag-1 to residential 1 for 1.1 acre in Edford Township for a non-farm dwelling

• approved a five-year hotel/motel agreement with Annawan to split a 5 percent tax 50-50 with the village

•  approved a resolution supporting a Heritage Trail bicycle trail, noting the transportation committee's concerns for safety, separating vehicular from bike lanes, and to have funding provided for the project

• learned county tourism director Cheryl Carney has resigned

• proclaimed Sept. 1-5 as Union Label week in a 16-5 vote

• approved naming the east-west road past Black Hawk College as Black Hawk Road