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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

February 20, 2014 Volume 164, Number 10 - $1.00

Wrestlers Advance

2,000th Point

Guilty Plea

A pair of Hawk wrestlers will represent the team at the state wrestling tournament. B1

Sam Lambrigtsen scored her 2,000th career point Feb. 13. B1

A Mt. Morris man was sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to a hate crime. B6

Sheriff’s Tow Fund changed By Vinde Wells Editor

Oregon Fire Chief Don Heller sprays water on a fire at a home northeast of Oregon Feb. 12. Photo by Chris Johnson

Fire destroys Oregon home By Chris Johnson Reporter A home in the 3,000 block of North Blackhawk Road in Rural Oregon was destroyed by a fire last week. Firefighters responded to a report of smoke at the home owned by Gregg Wessman at 2:35 p.m. Feb. 12. Oregon assistant fire chief Randy Travis said they thought they had gotten the upper hand on the fire before it flashed up. “When we got there we thought we could get it, but then the basement flashed over and we had to pull the crew out,� said Travis. “We tried to send a crew in the front door and were forced out by the flames. This was one of the hottest we have had in a while. I was amazed

Oregon home. “We tried getting two tankers on the driveway but ended up needing to relay the water through a five inch hose from the road,� Travis said. “The water needed to be hauled a long way from town for this three alarm fire.� With the speed of the fire Travis said extra tankers would have only delayed the inevitable. “It took two hours to control the fire and after 45 minutes we knew extra tankers would not of helped save the home,� he said. The speed of the fire caught firefighters off guard. Their A firefighter moves equipment away from the home. engine was parked near the Photo by Chris Johnson garage and ended up almost on how quickly it spread extinguish the blaze. too close to the fire. throughout the home.� “Everything caved in “We had to protect our The walls and roof of the during this fire,� said Travis. engine because we did not two-story home collapsed Tanker trucks were used Turn to A2 during the efforts to to haul the water to the rural

A close vote of the Ogle County Board Tuesday diminished the sheriff’s control over how one of the funds in his budget is spent. A motion to tighten controls on the Tow Fund was amended to take out the wording that allows the sheriff to decide how the money is spent. The board approved the amendment by a 12-11 vote before approving the original motion by an overwhelming 22-1. Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn has come under fire in recent weeks over expenditures in the Tow Fund, which included purchasing a new vehicle, flowers for Secretaries Day, a tent at the county fair, and $4,000 for the department’s Facebook page to be managed. Several stories published in Sauk Valley Newspapers and Ogle County Newspapers have scrutinized the sheriff’s expenditures in the Tow Fund and on a credit card. Revenues for the Tow Fund are supposed to come from the administrative fees charged to offenders when their vehicles must be towed. The tow fee is $350 per incident. The county’s Executive Committee recommended tightening up the ordinance which governs the Tow Fund. Originally the ordinance read “Any funds collected under this division as an administrative fee shall be used at the discretion of the sheriff, and may be used

for law enforcement related activities including the purchase or maintenance of police vehicles, equipment, or training.� The executive Committee recommended changes to make the ordinance read “Any funds collected under this division as an administrative fee shall be deposited to the sheriff’s Tow Fund, as established by the Ogle County Board, and used at the discretion of the sheriff, and shall be used for law enforcement related activities limited to the purchase, repair, or maintenance of police vehicles, vehicle equipment, or fuel. The purchase of police vehicles, while at the discretion of the sheriff, shall be done only with the advice and consent of the county board committee to which the sheriff’s General Fund budget is reviewed on a regular, monthly basis. Monthly reports of expenditures from the Tow Fund will be made to the same committee at its regular monthly meetings.� However, board member Bruce McKinney, Rochelle, was not quite satisfied. He made a motion for the amendment which removed the words “and used at the discretion of the sheriff.� “It needs to be back under the control of the county board and county treasurer,� he said. After the amendment passed by a narrow margin, the board threw its support behind the ordinance change. Only Dorothy Bowers, Byron, voted no. Board member Bill Welty, Chana, Turn to A2

2014 Primary Election

)NCUMBENT2OCKFACES CHALLENGER-ORROW By Chris Johnson Reporter Michael Rock became a licensed attorney in 1992 after graduating from the University of SanFrancisco. He also studied his third year at Loyola in Chicago. “I worked in the state’s attorney’s office from 1994 to 2000,� said Rock. “During this time I did a variety of cases including juvenile and civil.� Rock left the State’s Attorney office for 10 years when his oldest child was born in 2000. “I did private practice in Rockford,� he said. “I think my time in Rockford made me a better prosecutor and I knew I wanted to come back to Ogle County.� This time allowed Rock to

Michael Rock

have a more flexible schedule to spend time with his young children. Rock said once his children were older, he talked with his wife and they knew the time was right for him to return to the State’s Attorney’s office.

In This Week’s Edition...

Voters in next month’s primary election face a tough decision on who will prosecute cases in Ogle County. Two Republican He returned to work under Ben Roe as his first assistant in December of 2010. “I have spent the last three years handling the felonies,� he said. “Since I have been back I have taken three serious felony cases to trial and received guilty verdicts.� Two cases were attempted murder and one was a drug case. “Felony cases set the tone to show criminals that we will go to trial,� said Rock. “We need the criminals to know they can not be in Ogle County.� In prosecuting these cases, Rock said his office has always asked for a firm yet fair sentence. During his time in the State’s Attorney’s office,

Church News, A5 Classifieds, B7-B12 Entertainment, A6 Fines, B6 Library News, A11

candidates, State’s Attorney Michael Rock, 47, and Eric Morrow, 38, are on the ballot. Both candidates were interested in the State’s Attorney vacancy one year

ago when Judge Ben Roe, who was then the State’s Attorney, became a judge. The Ogle County Board appointed Rock to the position in January of 2013.

By Chris Johnson Reporter

Eric Morrow graduated law school in 2000 and joined the firm of Smith, Hanson, Morrow, and Floski in 2002. “Before joining the firm I was working as an assistant state’s attorney and was approached to become an associate in the firm,� said Morrow. He said he did not work with Rock during this time. While working at the law firm, Morrow was selected by Judge Stephen Pemberton, since retired, and Judge Michael Mallon to be an Ogle County public defender. “Being a public defender is an opportunity to do something good for the community,� said Morrow. Turn to A7 “There are clients who

Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B6 Public Voice, A8 Property Transfers, B3

Eric Morrow

otherwise could not afford an attorney. Everyone is entitled to defense no matter the circumstances. As a public defender it has been my duty to represent them.� Morrow said the crimes that were allegedly

Sheriff’s Arrests, B3 Social News, A4 Sports, A12, B1, B2 State’s Attorney, B5


This primary will be the first time the voting public will have the opportunity to weigh in on who they think has the experience to be the State’s Attorney. committed by his clients are not a good thing, but ethically they deserve the best attorney possible for their case. As private practice attorney Morrow has worked on a variety of cases besides criminal law. He has done family law, estate planning, real estate law, and many others. If elected Morrow would like to see the court process sped up. “For the victims of crimes we need to speed up the process to bring them closure,� Morrow said. “The current logjam within the court system need to be changed, and I believe a different approach is needed by the State’s Attorney’s office to facilitate efficiency.�

Deaths, B3 Clara M. Downes, Janice L. Point

Turn to A7

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