Foreclosure funds used to buy Halgren home
Blackert: As yet, there’s no plan for the property, but ‘we’re going to act very quickly’
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ROCK FALLS – The city used money in its budget to buy foreclosed homes to purchase Ron Halgren’s dilapidated, refuse-ridden home for $29,500, the city administrator said Wednesday.
According to court records, the city got a judge’s OK to foreclose on the home, then bought it Dec. 9 at an advertised public auction at which it was the only bidder.
To her knowledge, no appraisal was done on Ronald Halgren’s home at 812 Ave. A before the city bought it, City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.
Nor did the city have any long-term plans for the property, which it bought “in order to control the property so it could be cleaned up,” she said.
In fact, the city bought it without fully knowing the condition of the home, and without any city official going inside, she said.
Whatever the value of the house was, it has since been damaged beyond repair by a fire Monday morning that local officials deemed suspicious.
Neighbors have said they saw Halgren at the home earlier that day; that night he was arrested in Sycamore and remained in DeKalb County Jail Wednesday night on unrelated felony gun charges. His bail is set at $5,000; he has a hearing July 26 and is being represented by a public defender.
Friday, the day the city got the deed to the home, Halgren was given 3 days to leave the premises. The fire started a few minutes before city workers were to board it up.
Results of the state fire marshal’s investigation will be given to the state’s attorney’s office, which will determine what charges, if any, the 70-year-old may face.
Of the $29,500, Halgren was paid $15,000, a homestead exemption required by the state foreclosure law, Blackert said.
“The rest of that ... that was our lien on the house,” she said. “That’s how it got up to that amount.”
The city always has money in its public property budget to buy homes on which it has liens, Blackert said.
“If they come into foreclosure, then we’re able to take control of the property,” she said. “This was a little bit different, because a lot of those are abandoned homes. This was the only home that the city had ever taken that actually had someone living in it at the time.”
There are as yet no plans for the property. The Public Property Committee will discuss the matter and bring its recommendation to the City Council, she said.
“We’re going to act very quickly,” she said. “We do not want that home sitting there like that, so we will be acting quickly, but I can’t say what that is.”
The foreclosure was the result of years of battling with the irascible Halgren, who for years has refused to keep the home and yard up to code, to keep the required utility hookups, or to pay the fines and court fees levied against him.
“This stems from 20 years of disputes or 20 years of nonresolutions of code violations, and it wasn’t really the city’s battle,” Blackert said. “In a situation like this, this is where the city’s actually representing the adjacent property owners and protecting their right to enjoyment of their property and their property values.”
The city has been “very patient,” considering the dispute has been ongoing since the early 1990s, she said.
“Some people just refuse, for whatever reason, to comply, and he has always chosen not to, and it’s unfortunate.”
Many organizations throughout the years have offered to help Halgren.
“I think they met with some of the same resistance that the city had,” Blackert said. “It’s unfortunate that it ended this way.”
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