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County suspends work on Sycamore sober living house

Project will need 'miracle' funding to be completed, official says

SYCAMORE – DeKalb County administrator Gary Hanson said it will take a miracle to turn a State Street home into a sober living facility for men.

On Monday, Hanson suspended further remodeling work on the project, which has been beset by delays and cost overruns, for 90 days.

"Short of some type of funding miracle, I anticipate having to recommend to the County Board that this project be vacated and that an alternative plan be developed for this property," Hanson said in a news release Monday afternoon.

Hanson said the project could be saved by funding from faith-based organizations, service groups or philanthropy.

In May 2015, the county bought the home at 491 E. State St. in Sycamore for $145,000. The plan was to convert it into a sober living home for up to seven men. Both furnaces failed over last winter. Because the home was empty, those failures led water pipes inside to freeze, then burst, causing extensive water damage. While looking into how much those repairs would cost, other problems, including the lead-based water main, were discovered.

The latest round of problems was estimated to push the cost of the project "another $40,000 above available funding" and "there are no guarantees that the problems will end there," according to the news release.

Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert, who runs the drug-court program and has been a driving force behind the project, said she was disappointed by the project shut down.

"This is one of those programs that can truly make a difference in people's lives," she said in a statement included in the county's news release. "The people I am talking about are residents of DeKalb County; they are our friends, our neighbors and our family members. This will eliminate an important resource to the courts that would have helped a lot of people."

She said that in the long run, the project would have saved the county money.

DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. has asked the county's Law and Justice Committee to identify options for the sober living program and the home that the county bought.

The release didn't include how much money the county has spent on the project to date.

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