Henry County Board split on medical marijuana

Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014, 9:51 pm
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By Lisa Hammer, correspondent@qconline.com
CAMBRIDGE -- In a 10-10 tie, Henry County Board members Thursday failed to approve a resolution of support for medical marijuana cultivation or a dispensary center in the county.

State law requires counties to create at least one type of zoning for medical marijuana centers. Some counties are opting for agricultural zoning; others are using industrial or special use designations.

Henry County's planning and zoning committee will discuss whether to incorporate the new zoning designation into existing laws or to amend those laws to make it fit.

Supporting the medical marijuana resolution were Jake Waller, Tim Wells, Dennis Anderson, Don DeDobbelaere, Jim Findley, Roger Gradert, Jim Kursock, Jerry Thompson, John Sovanski and Rick Livesay. Voting against it were Kathy Nelson, Bill Preston, Loren Rathjen, Karen Urick, Jan May, Tom May, Ted Sturtevant, Ann DeSmith, Marvin Gradert and JoAnne Hillman.

Officials with a proposed rural Geneseo medical marijuana cultivation project announced they won't proceed with the application process after eight rural Geneseo residents spoke strenuously against a proposed location north of Geneseo. The residents cited concerns about security, property values, the area's character, attracting a criminal element, the message sent to children and the federal illegality of marijuana.

"I would rather live in a county that set the bar a little higher than everyone else and not just look to make a quick dollar," said Greg Nelson.

Phil Jordan, one of the four partners in the proposed project, said he respected residents' comments.

"Many are personal friends and certainly neighbors and business associates," he said. "Therefore, GenTech Seed Services will not be pursuing this any further."

Kathleen Repass, director of the Henry County Economic Development Partnership, said work begun four months ago on the project included a poll of every mayor or city administrator in the county.

"Everyone said they were interested in learning more about it," she said. But she noted there are almost no sites in Henry County that meet the setback requirements from residential property, schools and day care centers.

Also on Thursday, the board voted 11-9 not to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot about using county funds for Hillcrest Home, the county-owned nursing home.

Voting against the referendum were Mr. Waller, Mr. Kursock, Ms. May, Mr. May, Mr. Sovanski, Mr. Sturtevant, Mr. Thomspon, Ms. DeSmith, Ms. Hillman, Mr. Preston and Ms. Urick. Voting in favor were Mr. Wells, Mr. Anderson, Mr. DeDobbelaere, Mr. Findley, Mr. Livesay, Ms. Nelson, Mr. Rathjen, Roger Gradert and Marvin Gradert.

Ms. Urick, health and social services chairman, asked why the issue was brought to the board in August, the last possible meeting before the ballot deadline.

"Any referendum should be held over one month," she said. She added the referendum's wording would encourage people to vote no.

She said Hillcrest Home is Henry County's largest employer with 129 full- and part-time jobs. Those employees viewed the proposed referendum as questioning the validity of their jobs, she said.

"Hillcrest Home lives within its budget and is not a financial drain on this county," Ms. Urick said. She said half its residents are on Medicaid.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Sept, 30, the 273rd day of 2014. There are 92 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: The ARGUS Boys are very anxious to attend the great Democratic mass meeting tomorrow and we shall therefore, print no paper on the day.
1889 — 125 years ago: H.J. Lowery resigned from his position as manager at the Harper House.
1914 — 100 years ago: Curtis & Simonson was the name of a new legal partnership formed by two younger members of the Rock Island County Bar. Hugh Cyrtis and Devore Simonson..
1939 — 75 years ago: Harry Grell, deputy county clerk was named county recorder to fill the vacancy caused by a resignation.
1964 — 50 years ago: A new world wide reader insurance service program offering around the clock accident protection for Argus subscribers and their families is announced today.
1989 — 25 years ago: Tomato plant and other sensitive greenery may have had a hard time surviving overnight as temperatures neared the freezing point.

(More History)