Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers

The History Of Our First Home

 

The Story:

Upon his return from the War, my grandfather and grandmother married. Once married, they received some assistance from the government to build a home. Along with other veterans in the community, they helped one another (the veterans) construct each others homes. My grandfather along with his allied veteran friends, built the home and as a result my grandparents decided to start a family.

The result of starting a family was the birth of my mother and uncle. My mother was raised in this home and lived there for around twenty years.  When my mother met my father and married, she obviously moved out and started her own family. My grandfather, grandmother, and uncle all lived in the home in harmony until the late 1970's when tragedy struck our family.

In the Spring of 1978, my grandfather suffered a massive heart attack while working on a project in the garage at this home. Our family lost my grandfather at what today's standards would be considered a young age. I never met my Grandfather as I was born after his passing, however one day I hope to meet him (and my other grandfather who passed away before my birth) in the great place in the sky. This loss left only my grandmother and uncle living in the house. My uncle lived with my Grandmother up until the late 1990s when he moved out.

I spent many days as a child coming to this home and visiting with my grandma and uncle. My family and I lived roughly about 40 minutes away, so we would frequently visit for many occasions. Many hours were spent at this home with my older siblings playing wiffle ball, Nintendo, boardgames, and so many other childhood activities.

All was fine on the home front for my grandmother until she began developing health problems in her latter years. In the early 2000s, she developed many issues with her legs, knees, and ankles that hindered many of the things that she used to do and was no longer capable of doing. Simple tasks such as walking downstairs to do the laundry or cooking herself a meal became too burdensome.

Foreseeing problems in the future, my mother started to take action. My grandma grew up in the era of the Great Depression and was very private about her finances. She thought my mother didn't need to know about her "business."  Finally, my grandmother relinquished her habits and allowed my mother to help her with her finances and the estate of the property. My mother became her power of attorney and basically took over all responsibility of her needs. During this period, my grandmother's physical health continued to decline, and our family hired a home nurse to check on her once or twice a week on days that my mother couldn't come to help. The home aid would help with cooking meals, cleaning, and other household duties.

In early 2004, my grandmother complained of even further pain in her legs and knees, and my mother elected to take her for another visit to the doctor. On one afternoon, my mother picked my grandmother up at her home, and at the time, none of us knew that this would be the last time my grandmother ever was at her home again. The doctor recommended placing my grandmother in the hospital for two weeks, then after that, three months or so in a assisted living home. The belief was that once she recovered from her physical problems, she could go back home and live her life normally. Unfortunately, her mind did not agree with this time table. The early signs of Alzheimer's disease were setting in and every day that passed, her mental state became increasingly worse.

By 2005, it was apparent that grandma was never going to return to her home. She was upgraded from living in an assisted living community to needing a full service nursing home. Her home had sat empty for nearly a year and was going on almost two years of not having a tenant. At the time, I was still living at home with my parents, working and starting my coursework towards a Master's Degree, trying to save money while my then fiancee, now wife, rented a small one bedroom apartment.

At this time, my fiancee's apartment was burglarized and she really did not feel safe about being alone in her apartment. She spent more time staying with me at my parent's house than she did living in her apartment after the burglary. My mother, knowing we needed a change in our life as we had been looking at houses to buy and she had a house on the market, offered to let us stay in my grandma's house. In December 2005, my fiancee and I moved into my grandmother's home.  In return for the favor, we agreed to pay all of the bills and utilities and keep basic upkeep of the house without forcing her into parting with the home while my grandma is still alive.

Today, my wife and I, married in September of 2006, live in my grandmother's home with my mother's consent. I am the third generation of my family to live in the house my grandfather built with his own bare hands. Presently, my grandmother is living her days in a nursing facility nearby. She no longer has function of her legs and is completely confined to a wheel chair.  Mentally, she has good and bad days. Sometimes she can be as sharp as anyone else, but on other days she may not know who or where she is. My mother is waiting to determine the right time to sell the house, because it may need to be sold in order to pay for the costs of keeping my grandmother in the nursing facility.

This is the story of the home my wife and I live in.  This is our very first home together as a newly married couple.

The Story of the OWB

 

Please read the previous section about the history of our home, if you haven't already because this blog entry builds from that.

This blog is our perspective on how things have been handled regarding our situation with the OWB across from our home.  This is our OPINION in which we are entitled.  This is the only section of this entire page that is supported on our perspective and beliefs.  Every other part of this page is devoted to facts, laws, studies, and evidence.  Obviously, the individuals that are mentioned in the paragraphs below will deny or defend the statements we make on this blog.  However, the majority of the information we list about these individuals can be supported by simply searching the public domain of information available to the public.

Fall/Winter 2006-Spring 2007 (Burning Season 1)

Action Log

Outdoor Wood Boiler

Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor, owner of OWB, Albers, IL 62215

 

October 28, 2006---- First observed neighbor, Mr. Neighbor, constructing Outdoor Wood Burning device at his residence. At first we were unaware of what an OWB was, until Mr. Neighbor started using his device on this day. This was the first occurrence we recall of us being exposed to the smoke that his OWB creates.

 

October 31, 2006—Approached mayor Rick Casson (at his residence) about problems incurred from our neighbor's outdoor wood boiler. 

 

(October 31, 2006, November 1 & 6 , 2006)—Provided information about outdoor wood boilers to the mayor (Rick Casson) via e-mail.

 

November 6, 2006—Visited the owner of the outdoor wood boiler, Mr. Neighbor.  Discussed our concerns with the outdoor wood boiler, and specifically our concerns with him burning dry wood.  Owner agreed that burning dry wood was a viable argument and said he would keep the wood covered, only to find two days later (November 8, 2006), that the wood was uncovered and has only been covered periodically since.  Additionally, concerns were discussed about the height of the smoke stack and if any height would be added. At that time the owner said he had what he called a "temporary stack," which was about 6-8 feet tall but also stated he was in the process of getting a taller stack. The owner said some height would be added to the stack. Following this conversation in the week to follow the owner did increase the stack by an estimated 2 feet.

 

November 13, 2006—Addressed the village council on the matter.

 

November 27, 2006—Had a phone conversation with Village Trustee Michael McDermid.  We asked Trustee McDermid if there was anything needing to be addressed, and Mr. McDermid replied "At this time no you do not because this is considered an informal complaint"  Michael McDermid said that he and Village Trustee Rob Rolves will be conducting an on-site visit with the owner of the outdoor wood boiler at his address, address removed, sometime during the week of Monday, November 27, 2006 through Friday, December 1, 2006.  The conversation also noted that Village Trustee Rob Rolves has had a long relationship with the owner of the outdoor wood boiler.

 

November 27, 2006—Placed correspondence letter to owner of outdoor wood boiler at his residence in screen door at address removed requesting a time to meet and discuss our circumstance.  The letter discusses our intent to speak about the height of the stack of the outdoor wood boiler and the wood being burned in the outdoor wood boiler. 

 

November 28, 2006—Took photos of outside of residence at our residence.  Noticed smoke damage to exterior of home and garage.  The damage most noticeable was at the eaves of the front of the residence and below the perimeter of the roof on the front of the residence.  Also, damage was noticeable near the side door of the residence.  Smoke damage was also noticeable at the perimeter of the roof on the south side of the garage at the residence.  Also noted damage was noticed at the neighboring bank adjacent west of address removed.  (See the pictures on the main page)

 

November 28, 2006—Received a telephone message from owner of the outdoor wood boiler, address removed, in response to letter left at his residence the previous day requesting a time to speak about the outdoor wood boiler later in the evening. (Listen to audio file) (audio file not available)

 

November 28, 2006—6:47pm, Met at residence of owner of outdoor wood boiler.  Discussed the details described in the letter.  Discussed that we wished that he raise the stack height of the OWB above his roofline.  Owner's response was that the manufacturer only would allow him to raise the stack to 8 feet above the OWB structure and would not be able to raise the stack above the roofline.  We then responded with asking why the stack couldn't be raised above the roofline.  His response was that he was waiting for a phone call response from the sales representative of the manufacturer that night regarding stack height and a ventilation fan.  Furthermore, he said that he was going to add a two foot extension to the stack height, making it 8 feet tall.  The discussion further entailed us presenting him with the exterior damage that was ensuing on the home we live in.  Because of darkness, we then presented the owner of the OWB an open invitation to come to the residence we live in at any time to look at the extent of the smoke damage to the exterior of the home.  The third item of discussion in the conversation with the owner of the OWB is what is being burned inside the OWB itself.  The concern we had was that we were worried about what type of materials were being burned within the OWB.  The owner's response was then that he was only using "seasoned wood" that he gets from 60 acres of wooded land that he owns in the area.  The owner further stated that this was the only item he would be burning along with some cardboard inside of the outdoor wood boiler.  We ended our conversation requesting that some closure would occur preferably before the holiday season as we would like to have family members join us during the holiday season and stay at the house we live in.  We further stated that in the conditions that are currently existing, we could not have our family join us for the holidays.  We then ended our conversation and returned to our residence.

 

November 28, 2006—Within an estimated time of 2 hours from our meeting, the owner of the outdoor wood boiler placed potentially weathered wood inside of the outdoor wood boiler and proceeded to burn.  The smoke produced from this burning blew directly onto the residence at addressed removed for the duration of the night.

 

November 29, 2006—Sent card of appreciation thanking the owner of the OWB for taking the time to consult us about our problem regarding his OWB.

 

November 29, 2006, Took pictures of residence and pictures of OWB to potentially contact insurance company regarding a claim. Later in the day observed neighbor place "No Trespassing" sign on garage near where picture was taken in alleyway.

 

December 4, 2006- Spoke with trustee Mike McDermid regarding our situation.  He informed me that before any action would be taken on the city's behalf, a written complaint must be made with the Village Police Department regarding an ordinance violation.  Second, that the village views this as a process that "will be slow" in respect to the village taking any action stating that we should attempt to solve this as neighbors.  He also stated from his opinion that we had a "weak case" because the ordinance that this pertains to is a "Blanket Ordinance" and not something that is enforced on a regular basis.  Furthermore, Mr. McDermid informed us that he had contacted the manufacturer of the OWB and the manufacturer "recommends" that the stack be risen to above 2 feet of the nearest roofline.  The reason being the stack would need additional structural reinforcement to support a stack being risen above 8 feet.  Mr. McDermid then stated he would be passing this information along to the owner of the OWB if he could locate his e-mail address.  This was in hope that the owner of the OWB would take it upon himself to relieve the problem and raise the OWB to above the roofline.  Finally, our conversation concluded with Mr. McDermid stating he would provide a copy of the Village of Albers ordinance book via copy on a cd.  He also stated I could pick it up at his residence on December 5, 2006 or later at my convenience.

 

January 28, 2007 At around 11:17 PM observed NAME REMOVED (Furnace Repairman) located at the residence located at address removed.  The truck stayed at the residence until or about 12:05AM, January 29.

 

January 29, 2007, 4:58 PM, Again observed Name removed (Furnace Repairman) located at the residence located at address removed. 

 

February 2, 2007 Observed small pallets (non-treated wood) stacked next to the OWB.






February 3, 2007 Observed neighbor put pieces of small pallets in the OWB. 


February 20, 2007 Sent letters of inquiry to the following:

 

Ray Kloeckner- Clinton County Board

Mike McMillan- Clinton County Health Department

Dr. Eric Whitaker – Illinois Dept. of Public Health

Kathy Drea- Illinois Lung Association

 

February Board meeting (February 12, 2007) Addressed council and mayor about our situation.  Directly asked Trustee McDermid if we needed to do anything on our part (file a complaint), and he replied "No, not at this time."

 

March 5, 2007 Received phone calls from Ray Kloeckner and Mike McMillan regarding information packet sent on February 20, 2007.

 

March 6, 2007 Met with Trustees Mike McDermid and Joe Obernuefemann to discuss neighbor's OWB.  This discussion entailed Trustee McDermid telling us that he was not doing anything about this situation, in short words.

 

March 8, 2007 Met with Mike McMillan- Clinton County Health Department to discuss our situation.  He informed us this needs to be handled at the "local" level.

 

March 8, 2007 Filed formal complaint with the Village of Albers regarding neighbors OWB. Complaint is number removed.

 

March 14, 2007 Contacted Jane McBride of the Illinois Attorney General's office regarding our issue with the OWB.  She requested I send her a packet with the information I have for her review.

 

March 19, 2007 Sent information as requested to Jane McBride of the Illinois Attorney General's office.

 

April 3, 2007 Observed neighbor start OWB.  The weather was very overcast and rainy today, as we observed Mr. Neighbor place soaked wood into the OWB.  This created noxious odors and visible smoke, and the wind carried the smoke onto the property where we are living (pictures). As we were taking pictures on the front porch, Mr. Neighbor emerged from inside his residence also with a camera.  I then commented to Mr. Neighbor, "I suppose you're saying this isn't blowing at our house right now?" Mr. Neighbor responded to my comment by saying "No it isn't."  He then went to return inside his residence and while doing so blurted the comment, "Don't like it, move." and returned inside of his residence.  Shortly after we then observed Mr. Neighbor return outside from his residence with a video camera in hand to record the OWB.  We then observed Mr. Neighbor recording the OWB in action.  (Note at this time our attorneys and I have yet seen this video, suddenly it disappeared and was not given to our side as evidence)

 

April 29, 2007 Observed neighbor remove stack from OWB and place on the ground beside the unit.  This was the last day of us observing the neighbor using the OWB. (See pictures for April 30)