Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

City to sell former night club

By William Kincaid
CELINA - City officials plan to sell through sealed bid the former Illusions Nite Club, of which the city took possession this year after a drawn-out court case.
Councilors at Monday night's regular meeting gave first reading to an ordinance authorizing the sale of the property located at 222 S. Main St. via sealed bids at some point in the future.
City officials will seek a reserve price of $25,000, to recoup what the city has spent so far on various expenses related to the building, city safety service director Tom Hitchcock pointed out.
Councilors earlier this year authorized city officials to spend up to $20,000 to pay all taxes and assessments associated with the site.
At least two bidders and perhaps a third have shown serious interest in acquiring the vacant building, Hitchcock said.
"So that was one of the reasons (why) we wanted to do a public bid," he said.
Mercer County Common Please Court Judge Jeffrey Ingraham in a foreclosure suit over delinquent taxes ordered the property's forfeiture to the city, according to court documents. JP Morgan Chase Bank was listed as the defendant, and the property's last known owners were David C. and Georgia Woodward, documents indicate. As of Feb. 20, 2019, $13,418.40 was owed on the property.
Hazel had said he has no interest in seeing the city hold onto the building.
"We had one person that wanted to rent it. I'm not interested in the city being a landlord at all," Hazel said at a July council meeting, pointing out a two-story home at 1201 N. Main St. the city inherited when it was forced to assume ownership of the 19-acre North Grove Cemetery in late 2013 is enough.
Councilors on Monday night also passed legislation to appropriate additional funds into the law director consultant account for consulting attorney services. The account reportedly has insufficient funds.
The ordinance was approved as an emergency measure after councilors suspended the rules requiring three public readings.
"We do have some outstanding bills that need to be paid. That's why there's an emergency clause," city auditor Betty Strawn explained.
The legislation appropriates a total of $25,000 from the unencumbered balances of the general, electric, water and wastewater funds.
Mayor Jeff Hazel in his report to council said the annual Fall Fest in downtown Celina on Saturday afternoon was a success. Throngs of people shopped at local businesses and the more than 20 vendors lining either side of Main Street.
Social distancing and other safety protocols were practiced, Hazel said.
"It went over very well, beautiful day," Hazel said. "They had a lot of packages in their hands and quite honestly that was great for this community.
Turning his attention to Halloween, Hazel said trick or treat is set for 4-6 p.m. Oct. 25.
Hazel said he appreciates the Celina Lions Club for organizing the annual Halloween parade but said the event simply could not happen this year due to COVID-19.
"So we're asking everybody to be very careful as you go about trick-or-treating," Hazel said. "Stay only with your family. Make sure you're social distancing. Take hand sanitizer with you."
He also recommended that people find unique ways to hand out candy to children rather than allowing them to reach into a bowl.
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