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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

March 20, 2014 Volume 164, Number 14 - $1.00

Track Preview

Science Fair

Bonds Approved

The Oregon Lady Hawks are gearing up for the 2014 track season. B1

A record number of students took part in the OES Science Fair. A4

The Oregon School Board has $7.4 million in bonds for HLS improvements. A7

Election Results - Sheriff

VanVickle edges Harn by 136 votes By Vinde Wells Editor A Rochelle police officer was the successful candidate in a three-way race for Ogle County Sheriff in Tuesday’s Republican primary election. Challenger Brian VanVickle, 37, a Rochelle K-9 officer, defeated current sheriff Michael Harn, 52, Forreston, by 136 votes. Firefiighters from eight departments battled a fire at Whiskey’s River Smokehouse on the evening of March 16. VanVickle garnered 3,470 Photo courtesy of the Mt. Morris Fire Department votes to defeat Harn, who received 3,334 votes, and Joe Drought, 50, Rochelle, who received 2,821 votes. “I’m so appreciative of all the people who stepped up

Fire destroys restaurant

State’s Attorney

Blaze ruled accidental By Vinde Wells Editor A fire that destroyed a local restaurant Sunday night in Oregon has been determined to be accidental in origin. Oregon fire officials and investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) determined that the fire that destroyed Whiskey’s River Smokehouse and the apartment above it, located at 123 N. Second St. was an accident. “We know it was accidental and started in the basement area, but we don’t know the cause yet,� Oregon Fire Chief Don Heller said Tuesday afternoon. Two representatives from the OSFM and a dog went through the inside of the burned-out building on Monday morning. The restaurant, which has been closed for some time, is located just north of the Oregon Fire Station. Heller said a jogger saw smoke coming from the structure and flagged down an on-duty Oregon Policeman who alerted the fire department at 8:20 p.m. The building’s owner Kevin Wedel, who lived

Morrow beats Rock by 477

in the upstairs apartment, was not at home when the fire occurred, Heller said. Firefighters found heavy smoke when they arrived on the scene. “The building was still intact and showing a lot of smoke,� Heller said. Oregon firefighters were assisted at the scene by the Mt. Morris, Polo, Byron, Stillman Valley, Franklin Grove, Dixon City, and Dixon Rural Fire Departments and the Oregon Ambulance. Temperatures in the teens and a brisk wind made fighting the fire difficult, Heller said. “The cold was the reason we had so many crews there,� he said. “That allowed us to change them out often and let them warm up.� Best Beginnings Child Care across the street from the fire was forced to close on Monday due to the smoke inside the building. Owner Jeff Croegaert said he anticipated the facility would be open as usual on Tuesday. “The smell of smoke is really strong inside,� he said. “We’re just airing it out today to be on the safe side.�

and took part in this vision,� VanVickle said after the votes were tallied. “It’s all come to fruition.� Drought wished VanVickle well as he conceded defeat. “It was a very close race obviously. We gave it our best shot and thought we could do some good things in the county,� he said. “The voters have spoken. Congratulations to Brian VanVickle.� Harn did not answer his phone or return a phone call by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. As the early returns came in, Harn led the race by a strong margin — sometimes Turn to A2

By Chris Johnson Reporter Ogle County will have a new state’s attorney this fall. Challenger Eric Morrow defeated current state’s attorney Michael Rock Tuesday in the Republican Primary 4,925 votes to 4,448. “If these numbers ring true I am excited and I look forward to serving the people in Ogle County,� said Morrow minutes after the last precinct reported. Rock was planning on calling Morrow. “I am going to call Eric tonight to congratulate him,� said Rock Tuesday evening. Rock will continue serving as state’s attorney through Dec. 1.

“When we get closer to the fall we will work together to ensure a smooth transition,� Rock said. Rock, 47, Byron, was appointed state’s attorney in January 2013 after then state’s attorney Ben Roe was appointed as a judge. Tuesday’s primary election was the first time voters weighed in on who they wanted as the county’s prosecutor to replace Roe. Morrow, 38, Oregon, graduated law school in 2000 and was an assistant state’s attorney before joining the law firm of Smith, Hanson, Morrow, and Floski in 2002. Morrow also serves as an Ogle County public defender. Turn to A2

Arson investigator Mitchell S. Kushner and his K9 Zoe walk down the entrance ramp of Whiskey’s River Smokehouse Monday morning. The shuttered restaurant burned Sunday night. Officials said Tuesday that the fire was accidental in origin. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Maxson’s to reopen this weekend By Vinde Wells Editor The invitations are in the mail and the finishing touches are in the works for the grand reopening of Maxson’s Riverside Restaurant this weekend. After a five-month hiatus, the landmark restaurant just north of Oregon will open its doors Saturday afternoon

under new management. “We’re going to be up and running on Saturday,� said Nancy Semmerling, Riverwoods, who with her husband Frank purchased the restaurant and its paddlewheel riverboat last month. Saturday will be a “soft opening� from 3 to 6 p.m. for Oregon residents only. Semmerling said the invitations were dropped off

In This Week’s Edition...

at the Oregon Post Office on Monday. The restaurant will open to the general public on Sunday with brunch served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Semmerlings’ daughter and son-in-law, Christie and Daniel Wiegman, both professional chefs, will be running the restaurant. They’ve been working since the closing in early

Church News, A5 Classifieds, B6-B10 College News, A4 Entertainment, A6 Fines, B5

February to get ready for their reopening. Besides some remodeling, the restaurant will have a new menu. “We’re going to have a children’s menu for the first time,� Semmerling said. “We would like to attract the younger crowd with kids.� Some of the old favorites

Library News, A3 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B5 Public Voice, A8

Turn to A2

Diabetes Walk at OHS Ema Lantz and her teacher Marilyn Spangler take a break from walking laps at the Blackhawk Center March 18 during the sixth annual American Diabetes Association School Walk for Diabetes. Students have raised more than $1,000 this year for the walk. Photo by Chris Johnson

Property Transfers, B3 Sheriff’s Arrests, B5 Sports, B1, B2 State’s Attorney, B5

Deaths, B3 Walter P. Howald, Waynes L. Schumacher