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July 13, 2024

Vermilion County property transfer stalled?

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On October 18, 2014


Unless we have missed something, it appears that Bill Donahue has struck out trying to do an illegal move at the direction of Vermilion County Board Chairman, Gary Weinard.  Fortunately for Vermilion County taxpayers, Donahue failed and did not follow through with giving this land away (yet).
This article is an update on our previous work looking into this land grab (click here).  We have reviewed a quit claim deed filed by the Vermilion County Recorder on June 27, 2014.  It conveys all of the farmland which was advertised, auctioned, but did not sell at the auction (which was the legal process to follow.)  It DOES NOT convey any of the ADDITIONAL FOUR + ACRES of land that Donahue and Weinard were trying to give away to sweeten the deal so they could cash out on this farmland sale – even though the free land was not contingent with the farmland purchase offer.
Bill Donahue (current Vermilion County Assistant State’s Attorney) insisted that the county was righteous in the free land give-a-way which was supposed to be attached to the farmland which was sold to Smoot Brothers Farms.  He tried to conjure up several excuses of why this land had little value and several problems.  He could not be more wrong.  He also claimed that this property was currently landlocked and had a ravine through the middle.  Upon inspection, we did not notice any ravine and we now see that there is approximately 400′ of highway frontage along the entire south edge of the property.  Bill Donahue might be lying about things to create a certain outcome for his leader OR he is just extremely lazy or just plain incompetent for not checking the facts before making stupid wrong statements which don’t hold water.
Many county citizens and some board members believe this land should not be given away. Another thing which is inconsistent, is that board members were told by Gary Weinard and Bill Donahue that there were 2 buyers for the land.  Dan Ribbe, owner of Ribbe Trucking, appears to have bowed out of purchasing the land on the south side of the highway.
Anyway, if anyone has any interest in purchasing 4.5 acres of attractive property located on the north side of the Tilton-Catlin highway just north of the former Vermilion County Nursing home, send your request to Bill Donahue and Gary Weinard.  They really want to give this land to the neighboring farmer, claiming that it has little or no value.  Please carbon copy the Edgar County Watchdogs with your proposed “bid” amounts so we can hold these two leaders accountable so that way they cannot claim they never received your letter of interest.  It is too bad we cannot trust these leaders to do the right thing.
Even with its clouded history, it appears to be a wonderful place to build a home and raise a family if you don’t mind it being located in Vermilion County which currently has a terribly corrupt group of county board leaders at this time.
The property has an attractive drainage way which gently slopes from west to east across the property and also many, many trees around all borders which makes it very secluded from the surrounding land.  The drainage path can be crossed with an automobile once a few trees are removed to create an opening to reach the back half of the property.  An asphalt driveway circles around at the rear of the land, but if you purchase this land, we recommend that you remove the culvert and portion of driveway which connects it to the county animal shelter to the east.
This land is already approved as being “surplus property” by the county board.  Since the county was unable to give it away as part of the farmland sale (which is ILLEGAL), look for it to be advertised for sale by public notice and public auction in the near future.
Review the attached aerial photo for reference and to see how much frontage it has along Tilton-Catlin Road.
Some possible scenarios: The county realized they cannot gift it away, the County is waiting on an AG Opinion, the County simply forgot to complete the quit claim deed.
It is a good thing the board has been unsuccessful (to this point) in giving away this land, because there was a good chance a lawsuit would come out of that eventually, which would have cost the county even more money.  We are also waiting for a little more information before presenting another article about the illegal no-bid GIS contract between Vermilion County and Bruce Harris and Associates.  We think they should cancel that contract immediately as being unauthorized.
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