Page 1

Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

April 17, 2014 Volume 164, Number 18 - $1.00

Middle of Pack

Ash Borer Here

$2,000 Bill Paid!

The OHS boys and girls track team finish in the middle of the pack April 12 B1

The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Oregon trees. A2

A elderly woman’s $2,000 water bill is paid by an anonymous couple. A2

Ogle board approves bid for new building Two speak out against location for administrative building for sheriff’s dept.

The board accepted a $4.1 million bid from Rockford Structures for the project. Plans call for the building to be located at 103 Jefferson Street, Oregon, where the current sheriff’s office is situated. However, that site has brought opposition By Vinde Wells from board members and citizens. Editor Beth Henderson, owner of the Eagles Despite opposition to the location, the Nest, located a block north from the sheriff’s Ogle County Board went ahead Tuesday with building, urged the board to reconsider plans to build a new sheriff’s administration because that area, which is next to the Rock building. River, has been earmarked for a riverfront

district. “Oregon has all the components to promote tourism,� she said. One of the main components for tourism and recreation is the river and the area surrounding it, she said. As a nearby landowner, Henderson said she was never contacted about the plans for the new sheriff’s building. Not developing the area for tourism will reduce the value of her property, she said. Henderson also said the taxes on her

property are high because of its location next to the river. A better location for the sheriff’s building, she said, would be on the property the county owns on South Sixth Street west of the judicial center. Henderson asked the board to delay the project at least long enough to do an economic impact study of the area and determine the effect the sheriff’s building would have on it, Turn to A10

Forensic audit for Tow Fund Gouker says sheriff is “fully cooperative� By Vinde Wells Editor

Grant Afflerbaugh, site superintendent for Castle Rock State Park, extinguishes a portion of a controlled burn Friday. Crews burned several acres as part of their spring maintenance. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Planned Burn

Motorists who noticed a lot of smoke while driving on Ill. 2 through Castle Rock State Park last Friday need not have worried. Park officials conducted a planned burn of the park’s 710-acre preserve, located in the center of the 2,000 acre park located south of Oregon. The burn was located north of Wilderness Road and on the west side of Ill. 2. Site superintendent Grant Afflerbaugh said several hundred acres of the was Flames lick at the edge of a controlled burn at Castle Rock State Park April 11. successfully burned.

In an apparent reversal of its stand three months ago, the Ogle County Board authorized Chairman Kim Gouker Tuesday to proceed with getting a forensic audit of the sheriff’s Tow Fund. “I would like to see a full audit of the Tow Fund from beginning to end,� Gouker said. He said the audit will determine whether or not Sheriff Michael Harn has misused money from the Tow Fund, and lay to rest the questions brought up over the last several months. Gouker said Harn is also eager to have the matter resolved. “I spoke to the sheriff on my way here and told him what I was going to propose,� Gouker said. “He thinks it’s a great idea. He’s fully cooperative.� Harn has come under fire in the last few months over expenditures from 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. Gouker said he has an estimate for the forensic audit of $7,500 from Sikich, the firm that does the county’s regular annual audits. Because it was not on the agenda, the board will have to wait until its May meeting to vote to hire Sikich for the forensic audit. Board member Richard Petrizzo, Davis Junction, made a motion for a forensic audit of the Tow Fund as well as the sheriff’s credit card expenditures at the board’s Jan. 21 meeting. However, Gouker said the matter could not be voted on then because it was not on the agenda. Petrizzo’s subsequent efforts to have the matter placed on the agenda were unsuccessful. In February, the board diminished the sheriff’s control over the Tow Fund by limiting how monies could be spent and requiring the approval of expenditures by the county committee that oversees the sheriff’s budget. At Tuesday’s meeting the board approved a resolution establishing the Tow Fund. Gouker said that although Turn to A10

Grass fire burns 130 acres near Stillman Valley By Vinde Wells Editor Well over a dozen fire departments turned out Friday afternoon to fight a grass fire that burned 130 acres east of the intersection of Ill. 72 and Meridian Road just outside of Stillman Valley. Wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour drove the flames almost faster than firefighters could put them out, Stillman Valley Fire Chief Chad Hoefle said. “It was difficult to catch up to because of the wind,� he said. The very smoky fire made conditions dangerous for firefighters. When chasing a fire in the poor visibility, Hoefle said, it can be very easy for a grass rig to end up in the flames without the driver even realizing it.

The fire swept though areas of timber, as well as brush piles, Hoefle said. Despite less than ideal conditions, the fire crews, who remained on the job for four hours, were able to save the buildings of an old farmstead from the flames. “The main thing is we all went home safely and no homes were damaged,� Hoefle said. “We had a lot of help and they stayed to the end.� The fire was reported at 1:45 p.m., he said, and started from a homeowner who was burning off a prairie plot. The wind-driven flames jumped Ill. 72 and began burning corn stubble between the highway and railroad tracks. “We had to shut off traffic completely because of the wind and the intensity of the heat,� Hoefle said.

In This Week’s Edition...

That meant also rerouting school buses delivering students home from classes for the day. Firefighters contained the flames before they spread across the railroad tracks into a large field on the other side. Although it was the biggest, it was hardly the only grass or brush fire April 11. Hoefle said several of the departments called for mutual aid could not respond because they were already on other calls. At least five other grass or brush fires were reported in Ogle County before the Stillman Valley fire. The Oregon Fire Department was called to a timber fire on the west side of town at noon and had barely returned when they were called to a corncrib fire, A Stillman Valley fire truck sits in the eastbound lane of Ill. 72 April 11. The state started by trash burning, on highway was closed while departments from several area communities responded to Turn to A11 a large field fire. Photo by Earleen Hinton

Business Briefs, B6 Church News, A5 Classifieds, B8-B12 College News, A4 Entertainment, A6

Fines, B2 Library News, A11 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B5 Public Voice, A12

Property Transfers, B3 Sheriff’s Arrests, B5 Social News, A4 Sports, A12, B1 State’s Attorney, B7

Deaths, B2 Iris Cashman Anderson, Virginia R. Masters, Kathleen R. Mongan, Marvin K. Terviel