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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

May 15, 2014 Volume 164, Number 22 - $1.00

Lady Hawks Soar


Spring Fly-In

The girls track team finished second at the Big Northern Conference Meet. B1

Photos of the graduating classes of 2014 are in a special section.

Vintage aircraft will land in Ogle County for the annual spring fly-in breakfast. A7

Committee to recommend firm for fund audit County board to vote May 30 By Vinde Wells Editor The Ogle County Sheriff’s Tow Fund is one step closer to being completely scrutinized. The county’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday

night to approve hiring Sikich LLP, Naperville, to do a forensic audit of the controversial Tow Fund from 2012 up to the present. The full county board is expected to vote on the measure at its May 20 meeting. Board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron, said the fee for the initial investigation is

$7,500. If fraud is uncovered during the audit, the costs will increase. The initial investigation will document procedures used in the Tow Fund since it was implemented in 2011 and identify any abuses. “As I understand this, they won’t be looking at anything in particular. They will be looking at everything,�

Gouker said. “One of the things we get out of this study is a reorganization of this fund.� Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn came under fire in the last several 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. In what seems to be a reversal of his previous stance, Gouker called for the forensic audit at last month’s county board meeting. 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. Turn to A2

Raises for Ogle officials? By Vinde Wells Editor

Raises for Ogle County elected officials will be considered by the county board next week. The County’s Finance, Revenue & Insurance Committee voted Tuesday to recommend the raises to the full county board on May 20. The committee approved increasing the annual salaries for the clerk, treasurer, and circuit clerk from $68,500 to $75,000 and the sheriff from $81,500 to $82,500. County board chairman Kim Gouker said the raises are an adjustment for several salary freezes over the last few years. “These department heads have had only one raise in the last four years and that was for $1,000,� he said. By state statute, salaries for elected officials are set once every four years.

Birds Soar at School

$1M bond

Oregon Elementary School students got a special treat Monday from some special friends of our feathered friends. Hoo Haven volunteers brought live birds to the school to kick off the Mt. Morris and Oregon libraries’ summer reading programs “Paws to Read�— an exploration of the wonderful world of animals. Above, Karin Koy holds a barn owl as students react in the background. At right, Lori Humphreys holds a turkey vulture. Hoo Haven is wildlife rehabilitation and education center in Durand. Photos by Chris Johnson

A Loves Park man is being held in the Ogle County Jail on a $1 million bond on a charge of predatory criminal sexual assault. Ogle County Sheriff’s Police arrested Kenneth A. Turner, 22, in Loves Park on May 8. According to a press release from Sheriff Michael Harn, an investigation revealed that the activities which led to the arrest are believed to have occurred at a residence in Davis Junction. Turner was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Revenue streams to be point of discussion for BHC Park and school district to talk about agreement By Vinde Wells Editor Uncertain revenue streams will be an important factor in the discussions this year as Oregon school and park district officials hammer out a new agreement for the Blackhawk Center (BHC). The BHC, which was completed in 1997, is owned by the park district and was built to meet the school district’s needs. It is attached

to Oregon High School by a corridor. Under the present threeyear intergovernmental agency agreement, which expires Aug. 31, the park district manages and staffs the facility, and the school district pays rent as the primary user. Both school superintendent Tom Mahoney and park district executive director Erin Folk said Tuesday that negotiations are in the very early stages and probably won’t be finalized until sometime in August. “We’re going through the process of negotiating a new contract,� Folk said. “It may

In This Week’s Edition...

change and it may not.� Shrinking revenues is the issue facing both sides. Although the school district pays $168,000 annually in rent, that covers only 70 percent of the total operating expenses of $235,000. At a committee meeting in late March, park district board members discussed their concern that revenues will decrease if the assessed value of Exelon’s Byron Generating Station is reduced. Exelon officials have filed appeals of their 2012 and 2013 assessments with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal The Oregon Park District’s Blackhawk Center sits just west of the Oregon High School, Turn to A2 pictured in the background. The two buildings are linked with a corridor.

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

Library News, A3 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B5 Public Voice, A9 Property Transfers, B6

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

Deaths, B4

Rosalie K. Anderson, Mary J. Galloway, Brett D. Holaday, Shirley L. Powell, Duane H. Rubendall, Howard L. Stouffer