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Shadow Wood: Storm shelters scarce for local neighborhood

By Jose Diaz/For CU-CitizenAccess/CHAMPAIGN – Every time the National Weather Service issues a storm warning, Heidi Zavaleta has to decide where to seek shelter. She can stay at home, go to the mall or drive to the nearest hospital.

Most of the time she simply stays at home.

Zavaleta lives in Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park, a trailer home community in northern Champaign. She knows that mobile homes are not safe during storms but staying at home is safer than what most of her neighbors do.

“Most of them just go underneath the interstate’s bridge,” she said.

By Jose Diaz/For CU-CitizenAccess/Residents of mobile homes, like this one at Shadow Wood Mobile Home Park in Champaign, account for 43 percent of tornado-related deaths, according to the National Weather Service. The nearest public building that can provide shelter for Shadow Wood residents during a tornado 24 hours a day is Carle Foundation Hospital, located 2 miles away.

County health officials begin eviction process at Cherry Orchard

By Dave Hinton/Rantoul Press/Champaign-Urbana Public Health District officials, accompanied by sheriff’s deputies, went door to door at a rural apartment complex Friday afternoon to inform tenants that they had until Saturday morning to vacate the premises.

Julie Pryde, public health administrator, said many tenants at Cherry Orchard Village apartment complex were not at home, and some did not open their doors.

File photo/ A building at Cherry Orchard apartment complex. A Champaign County judge ordered the complex closed in April, but its managers, Bernard and Eduardo Ramos, continue to rent out units on the property. Champaign County health officials received a temporary injunction Thursday that allows them to evict tenants from the property to stop the use of a broken sewage system that left raw sewage on the ground and in neighboring areas.

Cherry Orchard tenants to be evicted; managers ordered jailed

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/A Champaign County judge granted a temporary restraining order Thursday that gives public health officials the power to evict tenants living at an unsafe apartment complex north of Thomasboro. The judge also ordered the managers jailed until the complex’s problems are repaired.  

The action follows a previous court hearing in April in which Bernard and Eduardo Ramos, managers of the Cherry Orchard Village apartment complex, were ordered in April to close down the property. In addition, they were fined more than $54,000 following the conclusion of a civil case filed by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. 

Court file/This diagram shows the flow of sewage from six of the eight buildings that make up the Cherry Orchard apartment complex.

Cars, tenants still observed at Cherry Orchard

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess / It’s been six weeks since a Champaign County judge ordered the closure of an apartment complex between Rantoul and Thomasboro.

But public health officials say people continue to live there. Indeed, as of Thursday, there were several cars parked in front of a far east building, which had a new dumpster nearby and kids playing in the yard.

The first collection buildings in the complex, known as Cherry Orchard, looks empty from the main highway – County Road 1500 East. There appears to be no cars and no people.

A.H. Gorton

Taxpayers pick up the tab for many neglectful property owners

By Pam G. Dempsey, and Daniel Mueller/For Neglectful property owners in Champaign and Urbana have left their fellow citizens with more than un-mowed lawns, deteriorating houses and yard trash.

They also have left a hefty cleanup bill.

Pam G. Dempsey/ Loose litter is seen in the parking lot and tall grass and weeds grow around the former Niro's Gyros restaurant on the corner of Third and Green streets on June 22, 2011. A Champaign city inspector noticed the problems while driving by and attempted to contact the owner. The owner failed to respond to city notices and the property was cleaned up by a contractor over the weekend.

Urbana tenants struggle to find new homes

By Jose Diaz/For CU-CitizenAccess/URBANA – Ashlee Bituin lives with her 4-year-old son and is eight months pregnant with her second child. Her doctor has told her she cannot work.

 On Dec. 15, 2010, she signed a one-year lease at Urbana Townhomes, located in the 1000 block of South Lierman Avenue in Urbana. Just three months later, she received a letter from the city of Urbana notifying her that the apartment building where she was living had been condemned. She had one month to vacate the apartment. 

Jose Diaz/Clemmie Pettigrew, her two children and Ashlee Bituin stand outside Pettigrew’s apartment. Pettigrew has 3 children and is unemployed. She had to move to Memphis to live with her family. Bituin is 8 months pregnant and cannot work. She had to move in with friends and will start looking for a place of her own after she has her baby and can go back to work.

Arrest warrant issued for father-son landlord team

By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/A Champaign County judge issued two warrants Thursday for a father-son landlord team who have failed to comply with court orders to empty out an apartment complex in Champaign County.

Judge John Kennedy issued a civil contempt warrant and a criminal contempt warrant for both Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo. The arrest warrants each include a $10,000 bond.  If arrested, the judge requires that the Ramoses post the full amount -  a total of $20,000 each - rather than the typical 10 percent before they can be released.

Courtesy photo/A building at Cherry Orchard Apartment

Cherry Orchard landlords fined; ordered to vacate problem property

By Pam G. Dempsey, CU-CitizenAccess, and Sean Powers, Illinois Public Media -- A Champaign County judge fined a father-son landlord team more than $54,000 Monday in a three-and-a-half-year-old public health department case at an apartment complex in Champaign County. (Read order here

Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo, have six months to pay the fines as well as court costs and were also ordered to vacate the Cherry Orchard apartment complex immediately. 

Following the ruling, Bernard Ramos submitted a notice of appeal to the assistant state’s attorney.

File photo/Arial view of Cherry Orchard.

¨ Copyright 2011 CU-CitizenAccess.