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Serving Ogle County since 1851

OREGON Republican Reporter

May 22, 2014 Volume 164, Number 23 - $1.00

State Bound

Tourism Guide

Fourth Place

The Lady Hawks will be well represented at the state track meet this weekend. B1

Read about tourism activities throughout Ogle County. Inside

The OHS band and choir finished fourth in the IHSA Class B music competition. A9

Ogle board approves raises for elected officials 20-3 vote on 17 percent increase over four years By Vinde Wells Editor Four elected officials in Ogle County will see hefty increases in their paychecks over the next four years. The county board approved raises Tuesday for the clerk, treasurer, circuit clerk, and sheriff by a 20-3 margin. Casting the no votes were board members Skip Kenney, Rochelle, Pat Saunders, Polo,

and Pat Nordman, Oregon. Bruce McKinney, Rochelle, did not attend the meeting. The salaries for the clerk, treasurer, and circuit clerk will increase from the current $68,500 per year to $75,000 in 2015, then to $76,500 in 2016, $78,412 for 2017, and $80,765 for 2018. The sheriff’s pay will increase from the present $81,500 to $82,500 next year, $84,150 in 2016, $86,254 in 2017, and $86,842 in 2018. Board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron, said the raises should be looked at as adjustments to make up for recent years when those

officials received no raises. “You will notice that in the base salary [$75,000] there is a significant adjustment,â€? he said. “That is because in the previous four years they got increases of only $1,000 for one year. The other three years were frozen.â€? Saunders voiced concern about how the county will pay for the raises. “My question is where will the money come from?â€? she said. “Most of our budget is for salaries‌If we have to make cuts to do this, are you willing to lay people off?â€? Saunders said the county’s tax base is “stagnant,â€? no

agreement has been reached with Exelon for the assessed value of the Byron Generating Station, and the county is currently in union contract negotiations with sheriff’s department employees. She said the proposed increase is 17 percent over the four years. “I agree with raises,� she said and proposed her own wage increase plan. Under her plan, the clerk, treasurer, and circuit clerk would get an additional $1,500 each next year, $1,000 in 2016, $1,000 in 2017, and $500 in 2018. The sheriff would receive

an additional $1,000 in each of the first two years. Kenney said he supported Saunders’ plan. Nordman also voiced concern over where the money will come from. Rich Gronewold, Forreston, said he had no problem with the increase to $75,000 but questioned subsequent increases. He cited high unemployment in the area he represents and said 47 percent of the students in the Forrestville Valley School District qualify for free lunches. “My constituents are

hurting,� Gronewold said. Board member Marcia Heuer, Oregon, said she wants to be sure the county’s tax revenues will be sufficient. Saunders asked Gouker if he had a plan to pay for the raises. Gouker said the county’s tax base has increased somewhat and sales tax and state income tax revenues have stabilized. “I believe out budget will be able to sustain this,� he said. By state statute, salaries for elected officials are set once every four years. The raises will take effect on Dec. 1.

County board hires firm

for “forensic examination� By Vinde Wells Editor It’s official — the Ogle County Sheriff’s Tow Fund will be getting a full forensic examination. By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the county board approved engaging the forensic services of Sikich LLP, Naperville, to examine Tow Fund expenditures and revenues since it was implemented in 2011 to the present. Sikich is the same firm that does the county’s regular annual audits. The fee for the initial investigation is $7,500 plus out-of-pocket expenses. If fraud is uncovered during the audit, the costs will increase to as much as $300 per hour for the investigators’ services. In their contract with the county, Sikich officials specified that the procedure should be called a forensic “examination,� rather than a forensic “audit.� Sheriff Michael Harn came

Disney Pops Concert Above, Oregon High School students helped with the Princess and Pirate arts and craft time before the Choir Disney Pops Concert on May 19. Above, are Allyse Ketter as Show White, Princess Emma Freeze, Abby Mongan as Cinderella, Ellen Reckamp as Belle, and Princess Isabelle Berg. At right, are Pirate Anthony Bauer, left, and Pirate Dalton McCammon. Photos by Lori Fagan

A Polo tow truck owner publicly apologized to Ogle County Sheriff Michael Harn Tuesday at the county board meeting for comments made at last month’s meeting. Greg Wagner was one of three tow truck owners who attended the county board

By Vinde Wells Editor

meeting April 15 to voice their concern about being taken off the sheriff’s tow rotation list. Wagner said that since that meeting he has been called by the sheriff’s department for tow service after traffic accidents. He said he spoke to Harn, who told him he had no knowledge of Wagner

purposely not being called. “I want to apologize to the sheriff and the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department,� Wagner said. Harn did not attend either county board meeting. At the April meeting, tow truck owner Doug Aken, Oregon, spoke for himself, Wagner, and Stan Ubben, Mt. Turn to A2

Memorial Day Service is May 26 Oregon VFW Post 8739 will hold its Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony on Monday, May 26 from 10:15 to 11 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery The parade will start at 10 a.m. with the Oregon VFW Post 8739 and American Legion Post 97, the Oregon High School Band, Brownie

Gouker called for a forensic examination of the Tow Fund at the April 15 meeting. At that same meeting, the county board approved a resolution establishing the Tow Fund. Gouker said that although the board approved implementing administrative tow fees in 2011, the ordinance governing that did not actually establish the Tow Fund. The new resolution mandated that Tow Fund deposits are limited to only administrative fees collected when a vehicle is towed, impounded, or seized during a criminal investigation. It further requires that the Tow Fee will be handled by the Ogle County Treasurer’s office, rather than the sheriff, as in the past. Treasurer John Coffman said the Tow Fund was turned over to his office April 15 when received a check for $51,932.07 from the sheriff’s department.

Work to resume on building

Tow truck driver offers apology By Vinde Wells Editor

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. Last January, board member Richard Petrizzo, Davis Junction, made a motion for a forensic examination of the Tow Fund as well as the sheriff’s credit card expenditures. However, board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron, 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 it could be spent and requiring the approval of expenditures by the county committee that oversees the sheriff’s budget.

Scout Troop 374 and Boy Scout Troop 52. The invocation will be given by Retired General Bruce Vanderkolk, and the memorial address will be given by John Tuttle, commander and chaplin of the 6th District and Post 8739. The Salute to Departed Veterans will be given by

In This Week’s Edition...

the American Legion and the VFW and the bugle will be played by a member of the OHS Band. After the ceremony, a pot luck dinner will be held at VFW Post 8739, and everyone is invited to attend. For more information call VFW Commander Richard Day at 815-732-4477.

Births, A4 Church News, A5 Classifieds, B6-B12 College News, A4 Entertainment, A6

After several weeks of waiting, Ogle County Engineer Curtis Cook could breathe a sign of relief Monday afternoon. He finally found out then construction can resume on a new storage building at the highway department headquarters at 1989 S. Ill. 2. Construction on the 90 by 150 foot building has been delayed about a month, Cook said Tuesday because the concrete in the walls did not meet the strength requirements specified in the contract. In accordance with building standards, the highway department’s contract with Cord Construction, Rockford, requires that concrete must be tested for strength seven days after it’s poured and again at 28 days. The concrete in the building’s walls, however, did not met the requirements

Fines, B6 Library News, A2 Marriage Licenses, A4 Oregon Police, B3 Public Voice, A9

at the first test. “It’s in our contract that it needed to meet at the 75 percent level after seven days,� Cook said. “It wasn’t there.� The 28-day test done Monday, however, produced better results. “Structurally the concrete met the strength requirements of the contract,� Cook said. Had the concrete failed the 28-day tests, it would have meant tearing out the walls and probably the footings and underlying pipes. The tests determined that the concrete was mixed with too high a percentage water in it, Cook said. “The contract spelled out the ratio of water. They exceeded that,� he said. The concrete came from the Super Mix plant in Belvidere. The company also has a plant near Monroe Center. It was poured by Preferred Concrete, Freeport. Once completed, the $700,000 steel building will

Property Transfers, B5 Sheriff’s Arrests, B3 Social News, A4 Sports, A11, B1, B2 State’s Attorney, B3

be used to store road graders and other heavy equipment, some of which currently sits outside. The parking lot work will cost an estimated $278,000 and will be done by Martin and Company. Although the concrete is structurally sound, Cook said it still did not meet the requirements of the contract. He said he has been working with officials from Cord Construction to resolve the issues. “I’m very pleased with the cooperation we got from Cord Construction. From day one they acknowledged the problem and required the sub-contractors to remedy the situation,� he said. “As difficult as the process has been, they made it much better than it could have been.� As result, the county will not have to pay for the concrete in the walls roughly estimated at $10,000.

Deaths, B4 Richard H. Adams, John L. Brockwell, Rhonda K. Comer, Annabel Cunningham, Lois M. Cunningham, Harriet M. Fletcher, Jeannette H. Joiner, Judie Lamia, Harry R. Noble, Doris J. Sandvik