More appear to be living at Cherry Orchard

More appear to be living at Cherry Orchard

Cherry Orchard Village apartment complex was supposed to be silent and vacant following a judge's court order entered earlier this year.

Just the opposite appears to be happening as more people are moving into the apartment complex located between Rantoul and Thomasboro, and more are expected.

A hearing is scheduled July 7 and 8 in Champaign County Circuit Court before Judge John Kennedy to address the situation.

Officials at the Champaign County state's attorney's office did not return phone calls Friday to comment on what would be presented at next week's court proceeding.

In April, Kennedy fined Cherry Orchard managers Bernard and Eduardo Ramos more than $54,000 and ordered them to close down the property because of unlawful discharge of sewage, unlawful rental of noncompliant property, failure to obtain a construction permit and unlawful repair or alteration of a sewer system. The civil case was brought by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department.

The Ramoses did not close down the apartment complex, and they were ordered to attend a hearing in May. They notified the state's attorney's office they were on extended vacation in Texas.

Kennedy issued arrest warrants for the Ramoses. The warrants each include a $10,000 bond. If arrested, they will be required to post the full bond amount — $20,000 each — rather than the typical 10 percent before they can be released.

Several sources have indicated more people are moving into the apartments.

Andy Kulczycki, director of Community Service Center in Rantoul, said the center is being asked for assistance, and the petitioners are listing Cherry Orchard as their place of residence.

"We're getting requests for food," Kulczycki said. "We just took note of the fact that people were moving back in.

"We've had several families who have reported that address."

Kulczycki said many of the move-ins are migrant workers coming to the area to work on detasseling crews. More migrant workers are said to be on the way.

"There's supposed to be a bunch more moving in the first week of July, after the Fourth," Kulczycki said.

The Community Service Center director said crew leaders for detasseling operations make arrangements for housing of workers, and one or more of the leaders are directing the workers to Cherry Orchard.

Julie Pryde, C-U Public Health District administrator, said she is concerned about the tenants' health and the health of anyone they might come in contact with, because raw sewage is still on top of the ground near the apartment complex.

"Last week we were up there a bunch of times," Pryde said this week. "There's a ton of people living up there on the east side. The sewage was on top of the ground again, and kids are running everywhere."

A neighbor has notified the health department that people continue to move in, and the lids are off three sewage aerating systems. She said a man was seen dumping bleach into one of the systems and another man poked at the system with a stick. Someone put tires on top of the aerators, apparently to keep children off them.

A health department inspector confirmed the conditions "because there was a complaint about the smell and the fact there was a man poking a stick down in it. You have to be a licensed contractor (to work on a septic system)," Pryde said.

Health department officials are not authorized to remove residents from the apartment complex or to shut it down.

Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said the sheriff's office has not been given the authority to shut down the apartment complex — at least yet.

He said because the case is a civil matter; different guidelines must be followed.

"We have to wait for the specific order" to do something with regard to Cherry Orchard, Walsh said.

Pryde is concerned about the health effects of the raw sewage on the tenants and the public.

"There are certainly people who work in restaurants" living there, she said. "All we need is a case of hepatitis A, and it could spread. ... We need to keep all the bacteria and everything in human feces ... out of our food and water."

Tenants have reported in the past the Ramoses shutting off the water for periods, and Pryde said if that is still the case, the tenants won't be able to even wash their hands.

"It's a public health nightmare is what it is," she said.

"The difference between the U.S. and Third World countries is public health laws. It's the immunization; it's the sanitation. There's a reason we don't have rampant outbreaks of dysentery, cholera and hepatitis A."

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alabaster jones 71 wrote on July 02, 2011 at 9:07 am
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How are people still moving in to this place after the landlords skipped town months ago? Presumably they have a proxy in place who is still renting these eyesores out. Find that person and arrest him...

sameeker wrote on July 02, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I agree. They should also find the crew boss who is referring them there and arrest him. Follow the money.

Yatiri wrote on July 02, 2011 at 10:07 pm

This has been going on, and on, and on.

The landlords are long gone. They may even have gone to Bolivia by now.

It seems the authorities don't know what to do next.

Atlas Shrugged Twice wrote on July 03, 2011 at 3:07 am

This is what happens when the Fed's don't enforce immigration laws. If ICE went out there I bet a majority of the tenants are illegal and have total disregard for our laws and regs in this state and country.

debbie d wrote on July 03, 2011 at 7:07 am

I went by there yesterday (saturday), and saw children playing out in the parking lot. I just can't believe that something can't be done about this problem. There are at least 10 cars in the parking lot and people still living in this " dump". It's appauling that someone can't get this place shut down. I agree with the comment on the people might not be "legally" here in the community, and going to work on detasseling crews. This scares me that they would go out on these crews where some of our 15/16 yrs olds go to work on just to get a job for the summer to earn extra cash. My son is one of those who is looking to work on these crews, but i am not going to let him now...! If they let these people out on these crews and our children get exposed to some disease like hepititis A and then bring it home to the families, who is going to be held responsible for the health costs? the ramos' ? please! They are on the run and don't care about anyone but themselves.

MrSanchez wrote on July 18, 2011 at 4:07 am

Quite interesting!

buster4236 wrote on May 15, 2012 at 1:05 am

   I drove past the entrance to Cherry Orchard two weeks ago and a phone number was painted in white numbers on a piece of dark lumber laying on other pieces of lumber all laying on top of a piece of log chain stretched across the drive entrance.  The first three numbers of the phone number is 202.  I looked up the phone number area code and it is a Washington D.C. Land line number.  Isn't this where both Ramos' were arrested?