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Tazewell County Board approves demolition of Pekin's Arcade and Tobin buildings

Wednesday night, the Tazewell County Board approved demolishing the Tobin building, seen here, and the neighboring Arcade building to make way for a new Justice Center annex.
Collin Schopp
On Wednesday night, the Tazewell County Board approved demolishing the Tobin building, seen here, and the neighboring Arcade building to make way for a new Justice Center annex in downtown Pekin.

The Tazewell County Board voted almost unanimously Wednesday night to approve a $717,000 bid from River City Demolition to demolish the historic Arcade and Tobin buildings in downtown Pekin.

The buildings stand at Capitol and Court streets. County officials say both structures are in poor condition and could make way for a new Justice Center annexto support operation of an aging county courthouse.

District 3 board member Russ Crawford cast the only dissenting vote.

The vote came after an amendment to include the salvage and reassembly of the Arcade building’s facade was added during a meeting of the property committee. It is yet to be determined how and where the facade will be repurposed.

Some county board members suggested donating it to the city of Pekin, while others recommended incorporating it into the still-undetermined design of a new Justice Center annex. In the meantime, officials say the facade will be stored on county property in Tremont.

“It was the request of a businessman here in Pekin and it cost $13,000,” said board chairman David Zimmerman. “That’s not insignificant, but I think it’s a small consolation, like you say, to the citizens of Pekin.”

Pekin resident Matthew Johnson spoke in opposition to the demolishing the buildings. He said the new justice center will lack character the Arcade and Tobin buildings bring to the stretch of road.

“It’s just going to be a square building with stucco or maybe just a concrete facade,” said Johnson. “It’s just going to have no character whatsoever.”

With the bid accepted, Zimmerman said he’s ready to return to “normal county business.”

Demolition starts next fall at the earliest.

Precinct boundaries, polling locations

The county board also voted unanimously to approve the current election precinct boundaries and polling locations. The vote brings the board in line with a state statute requiring a review of precincts at each year’s June meeting.

County Clerk John Ackerman raised concerns last week that the precinct map was missing from this month’s agenda. At that time, Zimmerman told WCBU he didn’t plan to include it.

Zimmerman said he changed his mind at the request of the state attorney’s office.

“He (Tazewell County State’s Attorney Kevin Johnson) didn’t say I had to do it, but he asked me,” said Zimmerman. “The resolution that was actually passed tonight makes absolutely no changes to any of the precincts. So the changes that we’ve seen over the past couple of years, things will remain constant for the near future.”

Ackerman said he did make a proposal for minor changes to the precinct map, but doesn’t expect any issues in upcoming elections without those changes. State law calls for each precinct to have about 1,200 registered voters. A few Tazewell County precincts have between 1,300 and 1,400.

“We’ve never had any lines, nobody ever waiting,” said Ackerman. “So I was comfortable with that number being the way it is.”

The board also passed a slight increase to election judge pay, from $200 to $220 for the day. Ackerman said the increase is funded through new state legislation.

The next meeting of the Tazewell County Board is Wednesday, July 26.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.