By Chris Johnson
Bringing county policy in line with Illinois law caused a stir during the Ogle County Board meeting last week.
The discussion over concealed carry required two votes to approve.
“Can we go to private session and hash this over?” said Lee Meyers, Byron, June 17.
“This can not be discussed in closed session,” said board chairman Kim Gouker, Byron. “We are bringing our personnel policy in line with Illinois legislation.”
“It makes them (county employees) sitting ducks,” said Pat Saunders, Polo. “It bothers me that we adopt something written by Democrats in Chicago. Can we make changes to this?”
Board member Skip Kenney, Rochelle, had the same concerns.
“I think we are better than that,” he said. “We can develop one for Ogle County.”
“This is state law,” said Bill Welty, Chana. “I am not sure you can change this.”
A roll call vote on the motion to approve the policy was requested by Zach Oltmanns, Stillman Valley.
One of the concerns raised was the wording about bringing a firearm on county property.
Board member Pat Nordman, Oregon, told the board the law is clear on what is allowed and Welty expanded on details of the law.
“There is concealed carry and appropriate carry,” Nordman said.
“Concealed carry allows loaded handguns in a car in any parking lot,” said Welty. “I can not exit the vehicle with a loaded weapon on county property.”
The concealed carry law allows a registered gun owner with a proper license to drive through parks, county, and school property. The gun can also be kept in the vehicle as long as it remains locked.
“The new law does not take away any gun rights,” said state’s attorney Mike Rock. “You still have safe harbor rules.”
Gouker said if the state changes the concealed carry law the board could revisit and relax the policy.
“I think the whole law is dumb,” said Lyle Hopkins, Polo. “Marking these buildings is the stupidest thing.”
He said criminals can target these buildings because they know the employees and customers do not have a gun.
The law calls for a sign with a gun in a red circle with a line through it to show guns are not allowed.
“I think we have county officials in a threatening position,” said Ron Colson, Mt. Morris.
Kenney suggested delaying the vote for 30 days.
“I think the personnel committee can sit down and develop a policy better suited for our county,” he said.
“My understanding is this is what we have,” said Gouker.
Rock said some employees could be authorized to carry a weapon.
In some counties the coroner has a gun.
“You have to decide as a board,” he said. “This follows state statute. I don’t like the way it is written. We can’t give employees more of a right than the state statue.”
A motion by Meyers and seconded by Dick Petrizzo, Davis Junction, to table the vote on concealed carry was defeated 9-13.
Jerry Brooks, Oregon, Colson, John Finfrock, Mt. Morris, Kenney, Kim Kirkolis, Davis Junction, Meyers, Petrizo, Saunders, and Greg Sparrow, Rochelle, voted to table the matter.
No votes were cast by Dorothy Bowers, Byron, Bobbie Colbert, Rochelle, Don Griffin, Oregon, Rich Gronewold, Forreston, Marcia Heuer, Oregon, Hopkins, Dan Janes, Stillman Valley, Nordman, John O’Brien, Rochelle, Oltmanns, Ashley Simms, Rochelle, Welty, and Gouker.
Marty Typer, Stillman Valley, and Bruce McKinney, Rochelle, were absent from the meeting.
The motion to adopt the policy was immediately voted on after the previous motion failed.
The concealed carry policy was approved 15-7.
Colson, Kenney, Kirkolis, Meyers, Oltmanns, Petrizo, and Saunders cast the no votes.
Meyers asked if there was a time limit the board had to wait to revisit the discussion.
“At this point it is in the personnel policy,” said Gouker. “We could entertain that in the future.”
“If someone has a change it needs to go through the committee process,” said Welty.
In other business the board:
• Unanimously approved a special use permit for an ATV training course.
The land owned by Steve Hammer is located at 4700 S. Scout Road.
One acres will be used by the Blackhawk Area Council, Boy Scouts of America for Camp Lowden activities and programming on the property.
• Approved a $29,000 change order for the sheriff’s administration building for additional hauling of debris.
Griffin said there was some areas with 23 inches of concrete and voids underneath.
The work was completed by Fishers who had the demolition contract for the project.
• Approved a 2,000 fee to join the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.
Sparrow will provide the board with quarterly reports about the organization.