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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

March 6, 2014 Volume 164, Number 12 - $1.00

All State Honors

Spring Ahead

Science Fair

OHS’ Samantha Lambrigtsen receives post season all-state recognition. B1

Set your clocks one hour ahead at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 9.

Students are encouraged to complete projects for the March 15 Science Fair. A9

Two school districts announce budget cuts Meridian and Byron trying to reduce spending

bring spending into line. The Byron School Board reviewed modest budget cuts at its February meeting, while the Meridian School Board slashed jobs and programs district-wide. By Vinde Wells Like most Illinois school Editor districts, the two are facing Two area school districts increased hiring and rising announced budget cuts last benefits costs, including week, made in an effort to health insurance; loss of

state aid, and a decline in the value of homes and small businesses, all of which causes a drop in the amount of tax money the district receives. With the Meridian district facing $1.75 million in red ink at the end of the current school year, the board made almost $1 million in staff and program cuts Feb. 27.

Early Voting Begins Early voting for the March 18 primary has started in Ogle County. Here, Ogle County Election Official Linda Walter pulls up a Republican Primary Ballot for an early voter March 4 in the basement of the Ogle County Courthouse. Locally, the contested sheriff’s primary and state’s attorney primary are part of the Republican Primary. Photo by Chris Johnson

Assistant Superintendent P.J. Caposey said the result impacts nearly every department and job classification. “If we wouldn’t have made cuts we would have been financially insolvent in two years,� he said. Besides eliminating 24.79 jobs and junior high sports and activities, the board may substantially increase student fees. Jobs that went on the chopping block include six instructional aides, 7.79 teachers, an administrator, a secretary, four custodians, a technology employee, and three food service employees for a total savings of $680,000. Besides junior high sports and activities, the board cut the ombudsman program and summer school, reduced the supply list for transportation, move to onetier busing, and shutdown the school buildings on summer weekends. That will save $268,000. At a future board meeting, the board will discuss an annual registration fee increase of $50 dollars per year per student. This will increase kindergarten fees to $110, elementary and middle school fees to $115, and high school fees to $130 dollars. In addition, activity fees at

“If we wouldn’t have made cuts we would have been financially insolvent in two years,� — P.J. Caposey, Assistant Superintendent Meridian School District the high school will increase to $100 dollars for the first activity per year, $50 for the second activity per year, and no fees thereafter for additional participation in activities. The net impact when combining staff and program reductions with the additional revenue from registration and activity fees will result in the district being $1,049,000 closer to a balanced budget. The board also plans to seek a referendum to increase the tax rate in the Education Fund. According to Caposey, the impact, however, is far beyond dollars and cents. “These reductions and fee increases will directly impact our students, community, faculty and staff. Cutting more than $1,000,000 dollars from a district that already delivers the lowest operating expenditure per pupil in the region will have a significant impact on the overall services we can provide to our students and to our community,� he said. In Byron, the cuts under consideration go far less

deep. The board hopes to resolve a $725,000-plus deficit in the district’s Education Fund, and to respond to continued declining enrollment. “While we recognize that staff reductions are never easy, the community cannot afford to sustain current staffing levels,� Board president Doug Floski said. “The board, our superintendent and our building principals are confident that these relatively minimal reductions can be carried out without any negative impact on programming, student achievement, or safety.� From 2002-13, the district’s enrollment dropped by 223 students. At a time when enrollment dropped 10 percent, hiring of fulltime certified staff increased 20 percent. Just since 2009, salaries have increased by $4 million. As a result of declining enrollment with no responsive decline in hiring, Byron High School has more than 50 classes with 12 or fewer students, and some Turn to A2

2014 Primary Election

Three candidates are running for sheriff’s post Ogle County voters have three candidates to choose from for sheriff in the March 18 Republican primary election. Sheriff Michael Harn, Forreston, is being challenged by two other law enforcement officers in his bid for his party’s nomination for another term. Also seeking the Republican Party nomination are Joe Drought and Brian

VanVickle, both of Rochelle. All three are long-time residents of Ogle County, and all three are currently working as police officers. The successful candidate will likely run unopposed for sheriff in the Nov. 4 general election as no Democrats have filed for the seat. The duties of the sheriff in Ogle County are

By Vinde Wells Editor

got there and I am proud of each and every person who has helped us achieve so much in such a short period of time,� he said. The department has faced operating on a budget rolled back to 2007 levels and Harn said he has cut spending even further, spending $1.3 million less than budgeted over the last three years. “When I became sheriff, the office needed to be Turn to B3

In This Week’s Edition...

Church News, A5 Classifieds, B7-B10 College News, A4 Entertainment, A6 Fines, B6

All three candidates favor the construction of a new sheriff’s administration building as soon as possible.

By Vinde Wells Editor

By Vinde Wells Editor Brian VanVickle, 37, is currently the K-9 officer for the Rochelle Police Department. He has been an officer there since 2009. VanVickle also has 13 years of management experience in the private sector where his responsibilities included budgeting, inventory controls, scheduling, personnel, and training. He holds a degree in business and will complete a second degree in public administration with a minor in emergency management this spring. As an employee with the City of Rochelle he was tasked with the bidding process for vehicle purchases as well as bidding contracts for vehicle maintenance.

The sheriff supervises 84 employees and oversees three budgets: the Sheriff’s Department, Corrections, and Buildings & Grounds. In 2014, budgeted expenditures for the three total close to $7 million.

Joe Drought

Brian VanVickle

Michael Harn Michael Harn, 52, has 29 years of service in the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department, including the last three as sheriff. Harn was elected in 2010, defeating incumbent Greg Beitel in the March primary election for the Republican Party nomination and running without opposition in the November general election. Harn said his major accomplishments during his term have been more arrests and cutting costs. The major issue Harn said he has faced as sheriff is improving department performance with a vastly reduced budget. “This has not been easy and not all employees have been happy with me, but we

numerous and varied. Besides the law enforcement responsibilities that go with the job, the sheriff is in charge of the jail and, in Ogle County, manages the buildings and property owned by the county, including the judicial center, courthouse, sheriff’s office, jail, Pines Road Annex, all in Oregon, and Focus House, just outside of Rochelle.

In addition, as an elected member of the Rochelle High School Board he is involved with overseeing a budget of $14 million. VanVickle said he believes his experience makes him well-equipped to manage the budgets and personnel as sheriff. “My experience is what sets me apart from the other candidates,� he said. “I am the only candidate with the Turn to B3

Library News, A3 Marriage Licenses, A4 Public Voice, A7-A8 Property Transfers, B6 Sheriff’s Arrests, B3

Joe Drought, 50, is currently the Chief of Police at Rock Valley College, Rockford, a position he has held for 17 years. He has been in law enforcement for the past 32 years, first in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, where he served for nine years. Seven and a half of those years were on active duty, and a year and a half was in the Reserves. Drought served in a variety of duty assignments, including patrolman, patrol supervisor, squad leader, investigator, intelligence section sergeant, and explosive detector dog handler. “I am the only candidate who has enforced laws on three continents, as I served

Social News, A4 Sports, B1, B2 State’s Attorney, B5 Zoning Permits, B4


as an MP here in the United States, as well as in South Korea and Germany,� he said. After leaving the Army, Drought was hired by the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department where he served for more than three years as a deputy, detective, and K-9 handler (drug detection) under the leadership of then Sheriff Mel Messer. He left the Sheriff’s Turn to B3

Deaths, A10 Jerome P. Beck, Lois E. Myers, Edmund S. Sowa