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Stunning Vancouver Special transformation

For $250,000 we got the school and 10 acres of land from Wauconda School District 118," said Amrich. "And we sold our old facility on State Road for $175,000, so it didn't cost us much to move up at all." The added acreage, including athletic fields formerly used by the school, gave the village dedicated space for sports, play and recreation programs.

Amrich said the deal was way better than floating a $4.9 million referendum for a new village hall. A sentiment, he said, shared by 70 percent of voters surveyed and used in his campaign to return to office in 2013 after an eight-year absence. And so, Island Lake officials are still watching their pocketbooks and fixing the village hall up, one window sill and tuck-pointed stretch of bricks at a time.

The latest renovation effort, paid out of general funds, said Amrich, has targeted repairs and replacements of windows and sills 35 to 40 years old. "Last year we spent roughly $30,000 to $35,000 on windows and tuck-pointing," he said, "and this year we've spent about $25,000 on windows, the front entrance and brickwork. New glass is energy-efficient, thermal pane, said Amrich.

The village hall's entrance canopy and a steel support pillars, eroded by salt and Chicago winters, were among the first jobs tackled at the start of the construction. "What we've been doing," said Amrich, "is budgeting X amount of dollars each year for repairs to the building." Amrich said work on the village hall is done "by local subcontractors, from within a 15-mile radius." Island Lake, incorporated in 1952, grew from a small, Depression-era community built around a man-made lake and summer cottages converted to year-round living, to a community of just about 8,200 today, said Amrich.

"We have a least a couple of hundred visits a week to the village hall," said Amrich. "With village business and recreation programs we have a lot of traffic." Chuck Cermak, owner of Anykut Barber Shop, has been in business in the village for nearly 50 years, half a mile from village hall. Cermak and Amrich were on the volunteer fire department "in the '60s and '70s," he said.


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