The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Fire victims request variance to place older trailer on their property

Nearly 40 residents were on hand at the Oquawka Village Board meeting, Monday, June 2, 2014, to discuss a couple living in a tent, due to a recent fire, which destroyed their home. The fire, which occurred May 23, left the couple homeless. Greg and Lou Ward have been a mainstay of the community for many years.

They have been given a trailer to replace the one which burned. The problem is the replacement trailer is much older than the requirements set by the village. This is where the variance comes in to play. The Wards are asking for a variance to waive the requirement for a trailer not older than five years old.

The Wards need to bring a request in writing to the board allowing for this variance. Board member Scott Ray told this to Lou Ward, who was present at the meeting. He further told her that he did not believe the board would allow a variance to accept the older trailer. The cost for a variance would be $250.

Resident and former board member Todd Shinberger was first on the agenda in this matter. He asked if the charred remains of the trailer where the Wards once lived would be cleaned up in a timely manner. He was told that no one could obtain a dumpster for two weeks and then the clean up would begin.

Kelly Kindig, resident, also asked to be on the agenda to discuss the property. She noted that the property was a health hazard the way it stands. She further stated that she is opposed to bringing in the older trailer.

Resident Mike Shockency said it seemed as if the entire community was ready to "ship them out," referring to the Wards. The entire board loudly cried out, "No, no, no." They said they want to find a reasonable solution.

When Lou spoke she noted, "Everyone is trying to run us out of town. We want to clean up. Everyone is against us."

Resident Ron Bigger gently told Lou, "We are trying to find a way to help you. We need to convince you two to allow us to help." He further explained to Lou, that she had to have known the way they were living before was not acceptable. Bigger calmly told Lou that her many pets had also created a problem. This seemed to upset Lou. She stated they only had four dogs left and most of the cats, rabbits and a raccoon had not made it out of the fire. Bigger reiterated saying that if and when they do get the help they need, they need to keep their place cleaner and neater. Lou pointedly stated that she would have to get "Greg to get up off his (expletive) fat (expletive)" to do so

The Wards have been offered other alternatives to their problem. They were told they could get into housing. This upset Lou and she shook her head and said she would never go to that kind of living situation.

Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that the couple needed help and the community agreed to attempt to help them.

In an unrelated matter, Scott Sloan, business owner, was on hand to discuss a situation with his business. He requested to leave out his mowers on the sidewalk or parking area during business hours. The board asked James Insurance owner/operator, Ron James about the liability of this. James said that Sloan would be responsible for the liability of this, but that could possibly fall into the village's liability.

Sloan offered to work with the board in any way he could if they would allow him to display his mowers, so that passers by would realize he had these pieces of equipment on hand. He also told the board he would be purchasing the business across the street and it would not remain a tavern, but be remodeled to his business. Todd Shinberger spoke up and said, "The first priority of this board should be to promote businesses in this community." He added that his wife places a sign on the sidewalk in front of her business to promote sales; and that there are others up and down Schuyler Street who do the same.

Sloan said that he loved this community very much and wants to raise his son here and again promised to work with the board in any way he could. Ron James asked that Sloan discourage people from getting on the mowers and make certain the mowers were kept out of the line of view for traffic. The board passed a motion to allow Sloan to place his mowers on the sidewalk during business hours.

In another unrelated matter, Ron and Sue Bigger, owner/operators of the Village Hub Restaurant asked the board for an easement for delivery trucks driving on the south end of the city park to her business. The board told the Biggers that they could use the alley in back of their business,

In other business, the board: