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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

January 16, 2014 Volume 164, Number 5 - $1.00

Third Place

Tax Time

Spending Studied

Hawk wrestlers place third Jan. 11 at annual Polo Invitational. B1

Get help with income tax prep at the Rock River Center. B2

Four Ogle County Department heads talk about their credit card practices. A7

Freezing rain caused backups on area roads By Vinde Wells Editor Portions of three state highways were closed for several hours in Ogle County Jan. 10 while emergency crews dealt with the dozens of accidents caused by freezing rain. Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn said Monday morning that he did not yet have a count on how many accidents occurred from midafternoon Friday until late into the evening. “It was probably well over

50,� he said. “There were no serious injuries that I know of but at least of couple of people went to the hospital.� Although the temperature Friday was several degrees above freezing, the rain turned to ice as soon as it hit the pavement, which remained much colder after several days below zero earlier in the week. Deputies had their hands full as vehicles collided or slipped off the road in rapid succession. Harn said deputies working that day extended their shifts

“There were 40 cars on this (north) side of the accident. There were probably at least that many on the other side.� — Sheriff Michael Harn by several hours and those on the night shift came in several hours early. The sheriff’s department was assisted by the Illinois State Police, Oregon Police Department, and Illinois Conservation Police. Crashes throughout the afternoon and evening led

to portions of Ill. 72, Ill. 2, and Ill. 64 being closed, with traffic backing up for extended periods. With local wreckers all at crash scenes, Harn told telecommunicators to call Dixon-based tow services for help. The biggest back-up closed

Ill. 2 near Castle Rock State Park for about four hours when a semi jack-knifed and struck a snow plow in the “cut� around 5:30 p.m., Harn said. Cars were backed up for a mile and a half on each side of the accident, Harn said. “There were 40 cars on this (north) side of the accident,� he said. “There were probably at least that many on the other side.� One of the vehicles caught in the traffic stoppage was a Rock Falls High School bus bringing players to a

basketball game in Oregon. The game was canceled and rescheduled. Harn said the road was reopened around 9:30 p.m. Reports of cars sliding off the icy roads began around 2:30 p.m. when two cars went into the ditch on Ill. 64 approximately four miles east of Oregon. That was soon followed by a semi versus car crash in the same vicinity. Harn said the semi ended up in its side in the ditch. A Turn to A2

A single 17-year-old has registered to vote in Ogle By Vinde Wells Editor So far just one Ogle County 17-year-old has signed up to vote in the March 18 primary. Thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last summer, some 17-year-olds can vote for the first time in the primary. Previously state law gave the right to vote to 18-yearolds. As of Jan. 1, 17-year-olds can vote in primary elections if they will be 18 years old by the November general election date. “We’ve had only one person take advantage of the new legislation,� said Ogle County Clerk Rebecca Huntley Tuesday morning. “We welcome anyone who is 17 and wants to be involved in the process to come to the county clerk’s office and register.� Plenty of time remains for 17-year-olds and older voters to get signed up. The last day to register to vote or make a change

Winter Weathering Cracks below the folded arms of the Black Hawk Statue appear to be widening as the winter cold takes its toll. A final round of testing on the landmark, located at Lowden State Park near Oregon, has been delayed by snow and cold weather. Repairs to the 103-year-old concrete statue are set to begin in the spring. Photos by Chris Johnson

of address for the March 18 primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 18. The only exception is the grace period registration and transfer of registration from Feb. 19 to March 15 at Huntley’s office on the first floor of the Ogle County Courthouse, 105 S. Fifth St., Oregon. Early voting will be conducted at the Ogle County Clerk’s office in the Ogle County Courthouse from March 3 through March 15 for all Ogle County precincts. Early voting will be conducted at the Flagg Township Building, 303 W. Ill. 38, Rochelle, from March 13-15 for Flagg and Dement precincts only. The first day to vote an absentee ballot for the March 18 primary is Thursday, Feb. 6. The last day for mailing a ballot from the county clerk’s office is Thursday, March 13. Absentee voting may be done in person at the courthouse until 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 17.

Huntley said Tuesday that her office at the courthouse complies with the Federal Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act. She said the courthouse is accessible to the handicapped for voter registration. She will sent a deputy registrar to the residence of any person who wishes to register to vote and is unable to go to a registrar. Huntley said temporarily physically handicapped voters who find it difficult or nearly impossible to go to the polls on election day may now vote by absentee ballot without getting the signature of their physicians as long as they call her office and request an application. First time voters who registered by mail must vote in person, Huntley said. Absentee voters may vote in person at the courthouse. Huntley will send an absentee application to voters who request one. When the completed application is returned to Huntley, the ballot will be sent.

Byron man faces felony sexual abuse charges A Byron man was charged last week with sexually molesting a teenage girl. Judah Pearl, 28, was arrested Jan. 7 on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Class 2 felonies and one count of indecent solicitation of a child, a Class 3 felony. Ogle County Sheriff Michael R. Harn said the arrest stems from an incident

that occurred on Jan. 1 involving a female juvenile in the Byron area. State’s Attorney Mike Rock said the victim is between the ages of 13 and 17. Pearl is being held in the Ogle County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 22. Judah Pearl

Mitchell is not guilty of stabbing due to insanity By Chris Johnson Reporter A man accused of stabbing a Leaf River couple more than two years ago showed no emotion while answering questions during a Jan. 8 bench trial in Ogle County Court. Judge John Redington found Michael Mitchell,

29, Leaf River, not guilty by reason of insanity on 10 counts. Mitchell was charged with four counts of attempted murder, all Class X felonies, two counts of home invasion, both Class X felonies, and four counts of aggravated battery, all Class 4 felonies. Mitchell, 29, was accused of breaking into the home of

In This Week’s Edition...

David and Denise Zellers on July 3, 2011 and repeatedly stabbing them with two knives he brought with him. Both suffered serious injuries and were taken to the hospital. They have since recovered. After fleeing on foot from the scene, Mitchell was taken into custody a short distance from the Zellers home after a

Business Briefs, B3 Church Bells, A5 Classifieds, B6-B10 Entertainment, A6 Fines, B4

five-hour manhunt. After more than twoyears the case was set for a stipulated bench trial before Redington. Redington said the state and defense would present the evidence they would use if the case went to a full trial. Before proceeding with the trial, Redington asked Mitchell if he agreed to waive

Library News, A2 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B3 Public Voice, A9 Property Transfers, B4

his rights to a jury trial. “Yes,� said Mitchell. Mitchell was then asked if it was his desire to give up a jury trial. “Yes,� he said. Redington asked Mitchell if he had any questions for the court before the bench trial. “No,� said Mitchell. Redington then asked

Sheriff’s Arrests, B2 Social News, A4 Sports, B1 State’s Attorney, B3 Zoning, B3


Mitchell if he had signed the document waiving his right to a jury trial. “Yes,� said Mitchell. In each of these questions the tone of Mitchell’s responses was in the same flat voice that did not waver or show any signs of emotion. After the questions were

Deaths, B2 William S. Giles John R. Long Lois M. Scheffler

Turn to A3

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