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Letters to the Editor

Public Voice - March 23

Sixth Street is best jail location

Dear Editor,

In recent months, there has been several concerns regarding the placement of the new Ogle County Jail.

The current plans to place the new building on the block of South Sixth Street along with the creation of a connected sally port to the Judicial Center is the only logical choice.

The first and foremost concern should be the safety of the officers, inmates and the general public.

The sally port does this and so much more.

I would reduce transportation costs along with the savings of not having to hire more corrections officers to transport prisoners.

The design of the new jail will portray that of any other professional building - it will not look like a jail.

One major stopping block from this project becoming a reality is the city of Oregon.

Councilman Jim Barnes and Tom Izer are voting no to the surrender/closure of South Sixth Street.

If this in fact causes the project to relocate and an avoidable disaster happens, the blood will be on their hands.

I am also very disappointed in how the residents of the City of Oregon have reacted to the recent town hall meetings to further discuss the project.

They have disrespected the county and the sheriff with their bad behavior.

My hat goes off to the county board and the sheriff’s office.

They have done an excellent job of planning this project.

It serves the needs of the institution while reducing costs for the taxpayers.

I fully support the location of the new jail and I hope you will to.

Chris Corcoran

Mt. Morris

How many
does it take?

Dear Editor,

The decision was made to not put the new jail to a referendum.

Instead public meetings have been held to answer questions and concerns – yet many of these remain unaddressed.  

The county purchased downtown property with the new jail in mind, leading many to believe that the location has been decided and the board is going through the motions of considering public concerns.

The recent meeting at the Oregon Coliseum was an opportunity for a dialogue, instead much of it was used to “sell” the proposed plan.  

The county jail in Sycamore was cited as a success story.

Based on 2013 figures, the population of Sycamore is 17,534 and Oregon is 3,625 (down from 2010 census numbers).

There is no comparison between these two towns and counties in terms of supporting a large downtown jail.

Facts show an increasing population does not lead to an increased violent crime rate so why the great increase in jail size?

Will the inmates come from the county or state and federal facilities?

If coming from outside the county, why?

It does not matter if there is no barbed wire and bright lights surrounding the new jail, what matters is that part of Sixth Street will be closed and a massive structure will dominant our downtown area.

The City Planning Commission will meet Thursday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the Oregon Coliseum to discuss the closure of Sixth Street.

How many people does it take to make a difference?

Cindy Enzler


Voice concerns over jail project

Dear Editor,

To all who live in Ogle County and particularly in Oregon, there is a Planning Commission meeting regarding the location of the new jail at the Coliseum on Thursday the 23rd at 5:30 p.m. 

We need to be there to express our opposition to the new jail on Sixth Street.

I attended the meeting on March 9, and came away feeling that locating the jail on Sixth Street will have an enormously negative effect. 

First, while we’re intent on growing more businesses here, three businesses may be torn down for a parking lot for the jail. 

Second, planners said the First Street location was unsuitable because they couldn’t build a basement there, except, as one young lady pointed out, the proposed jail on Sixth Street will have no basement anyway.

Other claims, such as that a bus to transfer inmates would only last three years, were unconvincing. 

And, as was pointed out, we could use a few more jobs in town to transfer inmates. Not to mention the plunge in housing values around the jail.

And finally, estimates are only estimates, and we are all accustomed to having projects like this end up costing two or three times what the projections were. 

This project will completely decimate downtown Oregon.

There are other options. This one is completely unacceptable, and we need to put a stop to it. 

Please come to the meeting on Thursday the 23rd to express your opposition.

Nancy Churchill


Build a skywalk not a sally port

Dear Editor,

Ogle County — put the jail where you have it planned, but since the city of Oregon will probably vote against the street being vacated, and you won’t be able to do your large sally port, go over the street with a skywalk.

The two buildings can be connected with an enclosed, secure skywalk accessible only to deputies and prisoners.

This would eliminate the need to revamp any city utilities and excavation of any other streets.

The sheriff and Kim Gouker keep referring to the great cost of transporting prisoners — well most citizens of the county of Ogle do not know or realize that at least once a week prisoners are transported to Rochelle or back from Rochelle for court over there.

We (the county) also pay for a judge, a person from the circuit clerk’s office, state attorney’s office to be at these court sessions, what about that expense, was it part of the cost that was referred to or is it in addition to the cost?

Why do we have court sessions in Rochelle?

When the new judicial center was being planned, it was stated that this new building would allow all court sessions to be in one building.

Cut out court in Rochelle and put that money back in the bank to be used for the maintenance of the new building.

I can’t believe that Kim Gouker believes that just because the building will not look like a jail but like an office building, people won’t know that it is a jail.

At the meeting in Forreston it was stated: In fact, it won’t even be officially known as a jail - directional signs will carry a different name.

“We’re not going to call this a jail,” Gouker said. “We’re going to call it the Judicial Center Annex.”

Does he think people are so naive that by calling it the Judicial Center Annex, no one will call it the Ogle County Jail?

No law enforcement person is going to tell someone at the time of their arrest, you are going to the Judicial Center Annex, they are going to say you are going to the Ogle County Jail.

In conclusion, Gouker and fellow board members and people from HOK, a Chicago architectural and planning firm, think about a secured skywalk instead of the sally port.

Please do not buy more property that would be taken off of the tax rolls for Oregon-Nashua, we have enough non-taxable property now.

Becky Bolthouse


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