It could have been for any reason that the health authorities in Illinois would shut down the ingenious business of an 11-year-old girl but this reason has gotten a lot of people talking.
Authorities in the state claim that Hayli Martenez, from Kankakee, operates an unsanitary lemonade business, which she runs with her mother since their home has no running water or sewer services. The house has not had water flowing for a few months after Aqua Illinois, the city’s private water provider, cut off their water for unsettled bills.
Iva Martenez, the mother, said that happened because the utility says she owes $1,116 for water and sewer service which is incorrect. She is being charged for the first floor of the neighboring two-story house, which is owned by someone else.
“I’m not paying someone else’s bill,” Martenez said.
Hayli sold lemonade for 50 cents a cup from her front porch and became so successful that she was the focus of a local news article about her business. The proceeds are going to Hayli’s college fund.
The article caught the attention of authorities who claimed she could not be serving sanitary lemonade due to the lack of water and proper sewer services in her home.
Hayli’s mother, Iva Martenez, told CBS 2 that she was in disbelief. “‘Are you serious? Are you really serious that we have to stop making lemonade?’ and that’s when he hit my nerve when he said: ‘Yeah, you people have to stop selling lemonade.’”
Martenez says even though her faucet isn’t currently running, her daughter uses bottled water, much of which is donated, to create her product.
The Daily Journal had carried two stories about the two-storey-house with the high-profile lemonade stand at 1042 E. Court St.
The first story was about the stand, which is operated by Iva Martenez and her daughter. The other one was about the Kankakee County Board’s decision to designate the house a historic landmark.
After the news coverage, officials from the city and county health department showed up to warn the family to stop selling lemonade, otherwise, they would be fined.
Kankakee County Health Administrator, John Bevis said they became concerned after they believed Hayli was also selling smoothies with fruits and vegetables. And for that, according to Bevis, a permit is required.
“When you cross that line, we can no longer overlook that,” he said. “Those are health issues. We have to prevent food-borne outbreaks.”
Hayli is however not discouraged and is determined to get her business back up and running. She still believes she has the best lemonade in town and it’s helping her future in the process.
“I get to see everybody smile when they taste my lemonade,” she told the news station. “I can go in my bank account, get it out, and I can go to college. I really want to go back to selling lemonade,” she continued. “That was my dream and I’ve had a lot of fun selling it.”
On June 20, the city ordered the Martenez family to vacate the property, saying it is “unfit for human habitation.” The family still occupies the house, so the city has taken the matter to Kankakee County Court.
In its court filing, the city said it issued the order because the house has no water or sewer service, which are building code violations.
Fundraisers are being planned around town to help renew Hayli Martenez’s dream.