Page 1

Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

February 13, 2014 Volume 164, Number 9 - $1.00

Sectional Bound

What’s Cookin’

Lady Hawks Win

Six Hawk wrestlers qualified for the Feb. 14-15 Byron Sectional. B1

Teams of four and encouraged to sign up for a cooking fundraiser. A8

Oregon handles Fulton 60-31 to advance to the regional championship Thursday. B1

Mishandling of funds led to resignation Longtime school chief leaves Forrestville Valley By Vinde Wells Editor Unauthorized withdrawals and redirection of payments are apparently at least part of the reasons why the Forrestville Valley School Board first suspended superintendent Lowell Taylor and later accepted his resignation. Although board members remain tight-lipped about Taylor’s departure, a

resignation agreement between Taylor, 45, and the school board sheds some light on why the longtime administrator stepped down Feb. 4 after months of special board meetings and closed sessions. Apparently, Taylor diverted funds intended for a tax-sheltered annuity and an IRA for his children’s education, both provided to him by the district, for his immediate use without the board’s knowledge or permission. The board approved Taylor’s resignation and the agreement at a special meeting Feb. 4.

Ogle County Newspapers filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the resignation agreement and received it Feb. 5. The agreement, which makes Taylor’s resignation effective June 15, states the terms of the agreement do not release Taylor from “any liability he may have for federal or state taxes, Medicare taxes, penalties, and interest.� “It is expressly understood,� the agreement reads, “that the employee’s (Taylor’s) withdrawals of deferred compensation, and redirection of payments

intended for the employee’s tax sheltered annuity and educational IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts), all without the actioned approval of the board, may have resulted in the underreporting of the employee’s income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Illinois Department of Revenue.� “It is agreed that the issues presented by deferred compensation and payments intended for the employee’s tax sheltered annuities and educational IRAs will be deemed resolved as a result and on the date of this agreement, and such withdrawals and payments

will be deemed as income to the employee as of the date of this agreement and reported by the board to the Internal Revenue Service and the Illinois Department of Revenue,� the agreement goes on to say. “The employee agrees to indemnify and hold the board harmless for any federal or state income tax, Medicare tax, penalties, and interest which may be due from the employee thereon.� Board president Robert Ebbesmeyer declined to comment Feb. 6 on whether or not the IRS is investigating the matter. Turn to A2

This photo of Forrestville Valley Superintendent Lowell Taylor was taken during Forreston High School’s May 2013 graduation.

Fire officials to consider adding ambulances By Vinde Wells Editor

Snow Ride Winter weather continued in the Ogle County area last week with more snow storms and subzero temperatures. Here, two snowmobilers brave the elements as they ride along the shoulder of Ill. 64. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Village offers Sullivans incentives By Vinde Wells Reporter The Mt. Morris Village Board is doing its best to keep a grocery store in town. The board agreed Jan. 28 to offer substantial incentives to entice a grocery store owner Scott Sullivan to expand his business in the community. After a lengthy discussion, the board agreed to offer

Sullivan real estate tax abatements, sales tax rebates, and waived sewer and water fees. Board member Mary Francis, who chairs the Finance Committee, said Sullivan is considering building a new $3 million store in Mt. Morris and has been discussing with village officials what they can offer. She called it an “exciting

prospect� for the village. Sullivan currently owns and operates a grocery store on Ill. 64 in the village. He owns three adjoining parcels of land at the site, where the new store would also be located. Village clerk Paula Diehl said she and village president Dan Elsasser have been meeting with Sullivan to discuss the possible

incentives and his plan for the store. The board went over Sullivan’s proposal for incentives. Although no total amount of the proposed incentives was available, Elsasser called them “considerable.� “We are fortunate to still have a grocery store in this town,� he said. “If we lose Turn to A2

Recent delayed responses to ambulance calls have prompted Oregon Fire Protection District officials to look into developing a publicly-funded ambulance service through the fire department. “We’re just in the preliminary stages,� said Brian Stuart, secretary of the fire board. “We have a moral and ethical obligation. We’re going to take care of our citizens and visitors the best we can.� Fire Chief Don Heller said that in 2013 the fire department was called numerous times to respond when the Oregon Ambulance Service had no ambulance available or needed additional manpower. Several firefighters are already First Responders or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). “Last year we did 91 of those,� Heller said. “Mt. Morris has come 50 times, and Byron has come several times, too.� Stuart, himself a full-time

Oregon man arrested after police search home An Oregon man has been arrested for possessing cannabis and intending to deliver it after police searched his home last Friday. Kyle L. Lewis, 23, Oregon, was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to deliver, a Class 3 felony; possession of more than 30 grams of cannabis, a Class 4 felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. According to a Feb. 10 press release, Oregon police executed a search warrant at Lewis’ residence at 1100 Illinois St., Lot #16, on Feb. 6 at approximately 7:29 p.m. During the search of the residence, officers located

a total of 443 grams of cannabis in several different containers, the release said. Officers seized $1,527 in United States currency. Police also located several pieces of drug paraphernalia. “This search warrant is a direct result of members of the Oregon Police Department actively pursuing criminal drug complaints. We continue to proactively work to eliminate the availability of illicit drugs in our community,� said Oregon Police Chief Darin DeHaan. Lewis was transported to the Ogle County jail where he was left in the custody of the Ogle County correctional These items were confiscated by Oregon Police following a search of residence on officers. Illinois Street. Photo supplied

In This Week’s Edition...

Church News, A5 Classifieds, B6-B12 College News, B5 Entertainment, A6 Fines, B5

Library News, A3 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B2 Public Voice, A10 Property Transfers, B4

Sheriff’s Arrests, B3 Social News, A4 Sports, A12, B1-B2 State’s Attorney, B4

Lombard firefighter, said Oregon is the only area fire department that does not have an ambulance service. The Oregon area is served by the Oregon Ambulance Service, a privately owned ambulance service with a paid staff. “We’re the only ones not doing it,� Stuart said. “And it’s becoming a bigger issue.� The situation became serious enough, Heller said, that Ogle County 911 operators asked for a procedural change that would get medical help on the scene faster. 911 Coordinator Sandra Beitel said several area fire departments, which, like Oregon, are manned by volunteers in most cases, have difficulty getting a crew for their ambulances during the day when most of them are at work. “This is county-wide, not just for Oregon,� she said. “If we get a call and get no response [from the ambulance service] in five minutes, we do a second tone-out and automatically send First Responders.� The new procedure is for back-up calls only, she said, where the ambulance service has two ambulances and one is already out on a call. Stuart said the ambulance response time is especially crucial in a rural area like Oregon where the nearest hospital is a half hour away. “The wait for the ambulance plus the transport time can make a big difference for the patient,� he said. Betty Ferris, who with her husband Jim, manages the Oregon Ambulance Service, said Monday that the service, which has two ambulances, has experienced no delays in response time. “We are staffed 24 hours a day, and we have no problems,� she said. The number of people on the ambulance service Turn to A2

Deaths, B3 Raymond H. Doyle, Michael P. Dvorak, Margaret E. Gearhart, Virginia P.Heberg, Francis E. Vock