Health Officials Post Eviction Notices at Cherry Orchard

July 08, 2011

Following a Champaign County judge's ruling, health officials are going onto the Cherry Orchard Village property, and issuing eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings.

Cherry Orchard has traditionally housed migrant workers. Building managers Bernard and Eduardo Ramos were ordered by a court in April to vacate the property - located between Rantoul and Thomasboro - because of raw sewage seeping from a septic system.

After a Thursday court hearing on the case, Judge John Kennedy issued a temporary 10-day restraining order for a building on the far-east side of the property, commonly known as "The Jones Building," which has its own sewage treatment units. In earlier agreements with the Ramoses, public health officials had suggested that Bernard Ramos could move tenants to "The Jones Building" if they legally repaired that sewage system.

But septic professionals testified Thursday that the building's sewage system does not work and continues to release raw sewage into the property's main discharge line, which flows into nearby farmland and into a creek. Sheriff's deputies also indicated during the hearing that people are still living in the building.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde said she is hoping nearly all of the people in the building move out by Friday night. She is working with different groups to make that happen, including the Illinois Migrant Council, Champaign County Health Department, United Way, and Salvation Army.

"Some of (the tenants) will probably remain there overnight," Pryde said. "Some of the single people may move in with friends. They may go to another migrant camp."

Pryde said a few of the families could also end up in a hotel, and then transition into more stable housing. She also noted that "The Jones Building" will be boarded up by Saturday morning.

Cherry Orchard has been used as a migrant camp and health officials remain concerned that it will be used again as such this summer. A state official testified Thursday that Bernard Ramos submitted an application for a migrant camp at the property on behalf of a not-for-profit company called "La Posada NFP" and spoke of preparations he has made to house about 80 migrant workers in one of the buildings there.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Bernard and Eduardo Ramos, but it has yet to be served.

The next court hearing on the case is set for July 15.

Story source: WILL