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Free Beer for Engaging Discussion about Courthouse Demolition

Michelle O'Neill
Rock Island County Courthouse, Rock Island, IL with construction fencing and boarded up doors and windows

People who want to save the Rock Island County courthouse are offering free beer to anyone who can change their minds. The historic building in the Quad Cities could be demolished depending on a lawsuit.

Michelle O'Neill reports this morning in downtown Rock Island and later in downtown Moline, two advocates for saving the 120-year-old building started a campaign called, "Change My Mind." 

Credit Michelle O'Neill / WVIK News
Bridget Ehrmann (L) & Tom Sparkman (C) listen to a man who was walking by their table in downtown Moline, IL. He agreed with their position, saying the courthouse should not be demolished.

Bridget Ehrmann and Tom Sparkman set up a table along the street to discuss with anyone walking by, the county's plan to demolish the courthouse.

They're trying to teach people about the history of the dispute, and what could be done to end it.

Ehrmann says lots of people aren't aware of the potential for the courthouse to be sold and placed on the tax rolls. Investors are involved and interested in developing the building.

She and Sparkman also want people to know the Rock Island County Board refuses to consider selling the courthouse, as proposed by Landmarks Illinois in a lawsuit settlement.

Sparkman says Rock Island County taxpayers would not have to pay for renovating the courthouse. But if the county sold it, the owners would pay for it.

In addition, a new state law could provide historic tax credits to help make redevelopment more affordable. 

The case is pending with the Illinois Third District Appellate Court. 

Previous story from May, 5th, 2019

It's been about one month since Landmarks Illinois and other plaintiffs offered to settle a lawsuit about the Rock Island County courthouse. One defendant, the Public Building Commission, is willing to at least entertain the idea. But the plaintiffs have not received a response from the Rock Island County Board, the other defendant in the case. 

Frank Butterfield, from Landmarks Illinois, says the plaintiffs made the settlement offer on April 24th. And it's just a starting point. 

The plaintiffs have posted more than $300,000 bond to extend a temporary restraining order preventing a contractor from tearing down the Rock Island County courthouse.

The Third District Appellate Court has agreed to hear the case, but denied the defendants' request to expedite the process.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.
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