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Letters to the Editor

Free reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4

Dear Editor,

Just think, for 236 years our nation has been FREE!

Oh sure, we’ve had to participate in some ugly wars, and we’ve had a variety of not-always-positive directions by our country’s leaders—but all-in-all, we have still remained FREE!

You and I have been FREE to move about the country without having to have government approval.

We’ve been FREE to worship as we want without having to abide by any government impositions.

We’ve been FREE to study whatever subjects interest us and we can also select to study subjects that will allow us to gain the knowledge needed for making a living for our families.

Wherever we were born, whatever were our financial circumstances at birth — we have remained  FREE to choose whether or not to accept those conditions or work to change (improve) them.

How many of the 192 sovereign countries on earth today provide the same or equal opportunities that we have here in the United States of America?

You may be able to name a few like Canada, Great Britain, Australia, but even those seem to have more restrictions on their populations than we experience here.

Sure, our taxes are fairly high and we have problems with various factions within our society.

Our public debt is nearly out-of-control.

Yet, we are FREE!

How can we account for this remarkable set of circumstances?

Think: Founding Fathers!

They gave to us a tremendous start by writing the most defining document there ever was for an infant nation—the Declaration of Independence!

In the document, they declared that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Think of those words— you and I individually possess “unalienable Rights”— they cannot be taken away from us because they were given to us by our Creator—not Congress, not the President, not the Courts!

I’ve now heard the Declaration of Independence read aloud for 10 consecutive years and each time I hear it read, I marvel at the words that so elegantly set this country FREE.

Maybe, just maybe, you would also marvel if you attended this year’s event.

Please consider coming to Franklin Grove on July 4th and hear Tom Wadsworth, once again, read this magnificent document.

Also included in the program will be four (4) of your neighbors relating “What Freedom means to ME!”

Bring lawn chairs and plan to stay for some refreshments.

You’ll be glad you did!

Max Baumgardner

Franklin Grove

Ogle County Board Member

Stone responds to letter about Memorial Day

Dear Editor,

This is in response to Mr. Anderson’s statement describing his disappointment with the Memorial Day Parade.

First of all, I would like to thank him for his service to our country.  I agree that, perhaps, attendance may have been less than you might expect.

For many, Memorial Day is a day to reflect and remember in a more private way.

I am also sorry that he felt the mayor was “too busy” to attend.

Yes, Sgt. Cropp was asked to stand in for him in his absence because he, too, is a veteran.  I believe Sgt. Cropp was honored to do so.

“Too busy”...yes, my husband had spent the weeks prior to Memorial Day helping a young military family prepare to move from Colorado to Tennessee.

Our son-in-law is a U.S. Air Force Captain and had been reassigned to Arnold Air Force Base.

“Too busy”...yes, he spent nine hours on Friday prior to Memorial Day to drive their vehicle to Tennessee so that his daughter and 1-year old granddaughter would  not be stranded in a strange new city without transportation when Daddy drove to the base 40 minutes away each day.

“Too busy”... and, yes, on Memorial Day he drove another nine hours to come home to Oregon.

My husband is a veteran of the Vietnam War.  He lives with the memories and loss of his fallen comrades and family members every day, as many veterans do.

To my knowledge, he has participated in or attended every Memorial Day parade and service for the past 34 years, with the exception of the year our daughter was married 1,100 miles away.

Perhaps Mr. Anderson missed all of those?

Terry Stone


Editor’s note: Terry Stone is the wife of Oregon Mayor Tom Stone.

Encourage your council to vote for ordinance

Dear Editor,

First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am a member of the Oregon Historic Preservation Commission.

I, and my fellow commissioners, were  appointed by  Mayor Tom Stone to research and recommend a historic preservation ordinance to the city council.  My comments are my own and should not reflect on any other member of this commission.

There are a lot of rumors, misrepresentations, and falsehoods being spread throughout our community about the ordinance that our commission recommended to the mayor and city council members for consideration.  It is my hope that I may clarify what this particular ordinance means for the city of Oregon and its citizens.

In 2003 the Illinois Dept. of Transportation wanted to demolish the (then) Rock River Bank building and the National Clothing Building.  In response, petitions were distributed asking for the city council to protect the buildings from demolition.

Although I cannot remember the final number of signatures, it was documented in this paper that 360 signatures were collected on the first day.

In response to the proposed “development” and relocation of Sullivan’s grocery store to a two block area of our downtown,petitions were circulated and 730 signatures were collected in seven days to protect the buildings in the downtown from demolition and destruction.

Clearly, people care and support the preservation of those buildings.

The ordinance that the Historic Preservation Commission recommended to the city council does the following:

1.  It protects the downtown buildings in the Historic Business District from Eminent Domain, which means that no government agency (like IDOT) can come to Oregon and demolish those buildings.  This is significant, because in the Aug. 12, 2004 edition of the Oregon Republican Reporter IDOT’s district engineer, Greg Mounts stated that if the IDOT proposal was rejected, IDOT would revisit the issue of the intersection of Rte. 64 and Rte. 2 in 5-8 years.  That was seven years ago.  Will IDOT be back in Oregon 12 months from now?  I don’t know, but I do know this, it is not a question of if IDOT will return, just a matter of when.

2. It protects the same buildings from the legal term Progress, meaning that a developer cannot tear down those buildings.

3. They cannot be torn down unless they are a health and safety hazard.

The ordinance that the Historic Preservation Commission recommended to the City Council does not do the following:

1. It does not violate your rights as a homeowner.  The Historic Preservation Commission will not go around town land marking homes. This is purely voluntary.  If you would like to have your home considered for historic designation, and enjoy the benefits that come with that, you can pick up an application at city hall.  The Historic Preservation Commission will review your application and forward it to the city council with their recommendation.  The city council has the final determination.

— If you do not want your home to be a local historic landmark, this ordinance does not affect you.

2. How will this ordinance directly affect the business district owners?  If a property owner wants to make external improvements to his/her building, they will fill out forms available at city hall.  Those applications currently go to the planning commission for consideration.  If they are owners of a historic property the application will then be forwarded to the Historic Preservation Commission.  The application will then go to the city council who makes the final determination.

3. This is a “city wide” ordinance, just like all other ordinances.  Fence ordinances, trash collecting ordinances, sprinklers, handicapped access ordinances all are city ordinances.  And as is the case with all city ordinances, there are variances all the time.  Common sense and checks and balances are the rule.  That is true of this ordinance as well.

4. Although this ordinance does not directly affect the majority of Oregon’s citizens, if passed, it does benefit the entire community.  If our city council passes this ordinance Oregon will be in a pool of 70 plus towns within the State of Illinois that have adopted this same ordinance.  This small pool of communities have access to  funds that can cover everything from promotion materials and advertising of Oregon to tourists to the reprinting of the book the library is fundraising for showcasing the art collection housed there.  This fund is financed, oddly, by off shore drilling and has remained intact even in these challenging economic times.

Can you, reader, list the ordinances that have passed in the last 12 months in Oregon, Illinois?  Ordinances are boring, they are written by lawyers, for lawyers.  So, I understand a certain amount of apathy in the community…that is why I feel the need to reach out to all of you that contributed financially to the designation of the Historic Business District, those of you that signed those petitions to protect those buildings…there is nothing to fear regarding this ordinance.  It is simply a document that will protect what we love about Oregon, and free us to focus on positive growth while embracing what we have.  Anyone who is telling you otherwise is misrepresenting the truth to fit their own personal agenda.

If you have any further questions regarding this ordinance please feel free to contact any member of the Historic Preservation Commission.  Our contact information is available at city hall.  We welcome your input.

If you want a guarantee that our downtown will be here in your lifetime, your children’s and grandchildren’s lifetime, please contact our city council members and encourage them to vote for this ordinance.

Respectfully submitted,

Julie Watt

Secretary, Oregon Historic Preservation Commission

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