Ogle County is beautiful and offers much to its residents and visitors.
It’s the home to three state parks, six nature preserves, and the Rock River that offers much in the form of recreation, sports, and relaxation.
I believe that most residents want to preserve what we have, but there are those who want change for their financial gain.
I’m referring to the development of wind farms.
Ogle County has taken a thorough look at the effects that wind farms have on a county and its people.
I’m grateful because industrial wind towers have mushroomed in counties surrounding Ogle and they’re not without problems.
The Ogle County Board has responsibly stopped new construction of industrial wind towers until the end of February when newly drafted Ogle County wind farm regulations are likely to be voted on by the board.
Ogle County Board committees, subcommittees, applicable professionals, and residents have contributed to the development of the regulations.
In my opinion, they are not strong enough, but the regulations need to be passed by the Ogle County Board as presented in whole.
They are much better than what is currently in place and what would be followed without the new regulations.
County board works hard
Government can work, our county is proving it!
After years of county board, county committee, and citizen effort, a WECS text amendment has been developed.
Final development was determined by experts of audiology and epidemiolgy, and equally important, individuals living among development, citizens, developers, and many more.
Various committees and individual board members have reviewed multiple studies, surveys, and citizen letters.
Below are a very few of the many important results of our county’s efforts:
• Allows for wind development: The distance from a non-participating property is 1,640 feet. A distance requested by a developer as one that would allow them to develop with the approved noise standards.
• Decommissioning protecting the county from possible future costs: Asking for a cash escrow paid in full at the time of application, without salvage costs, ensures the landowners and county avoid any removal costs.
• Protects non-participating residents: Proposed sound language ensures that those living close to development can continue to have reasonable peace and quiet, the main reason they chose to live in their rural setting.
• Protects the tax revenues: Replacing the present language, that is questionably legally enforceable, and inserting an enforceable host agreement that will ensure full tax revenues throughout the life of the project.
Our county government has succeeded where our federal government has failed.
Our county developed a compromised solution, very refreshing.
Our county gave equal importance between citizen concern and developer request.
Our county listened.
I’ll openly admit I’m not entirely happy with the results, presumably a view shared by pro-development.
Thus, neither side being happy could very well mean a reasonable balance has been reached.
Unsurprisingly, developers will adamantly complain, to be expected.
Wind development is a large corporate endeavor, large corporations exist to make a profit, maximizing that profit is an integral component of their business plan.
Living with their development, and any associated problems, is not a major concern.
Living with wind development has problems; our county recognized this and has endeavored to protect its citizens.
Again refreshing, negotiating with a developer, not simply agreeing.
We have an opportunity to be proud of our county government, they deserve to hear from us.
Please, take a moment to thank your district board members and ask for their support of the recent text amendment developed by the Assessment Planning and Zoning Committee.
They have worked very hard for a document that is grudgingly acceptable by opposing views, which, as I said earlier, means they’ve done a very good job.
In today’s governing environment, a simple telephone call to a well-deserved local governing body is worth the effort.
Oregon Police were helpful
Due to unpleasant circumstances, we felt we needed the assistance of the Oregon Police Department.
We first met with Sgt. Cropp. He was understanding, attentive, and knowledgable.
We then met with Cpl. Brooks who had the same qualities. Both were very professional.
Sgt. Cropp even stayed after his shift on New Year’s Eve. We even met Oz (police dog).
They advised us to meet with Chief DeHaan.
Chief DeHaan was very understanding and helpful. We felt he went above and beyond to help us.
We feel the city is in good hands as long as we have a police department like this. Thank you so much to all.
Don and Joy Groenhagen
Wreath campaign was a success
The “Keep the Wreath Red” campaign was a great success again this year.
The program is very simple, a wreath is placed on the front of the Mt. Morris Firehouse.
The wreath was covered in red bulbs.
If a fire occurs during the holiday season caused by holiday decorations, a bulb will be changed to white.
Thanks to our safety conscious citizens we were able to keep the wreath red for the entire holiday season.
The Mt. Morris Fire Department truly appreciates everyone’s help to make it another fire safe holiday season!
Mt. Morris Fire Chief
EDC seems good for city but questions raised
Oregon has an Economic Development Committee, which, in theory, seems like a really great idea. How great to have a group of people really looking at our local resources, and thinking of ways to capitalize on them and bring more people to Oregon to enjoy them.
I am sure that there are some very smart people involved with this Economic Development Committee that are doing just that.
However, there are some who seem to have lost their way.
The City of Oregon applied for a grant of $75,000 with a project description that states in part that it would be used “to hire the Peoples Economic Development Corporation to perform a community assessment...to develop a capital improvement plan...(that would) be a blue print for Oregon in preserving the history and creating economic development opportunities for current and future businesses.” “About $13,500 of the $75,000 would be used to devise the plan.”
The Peoples Economic Development Corporation is a rock solid group that “in association with recognized experts in the field of historic preservation, architectural design, historic building maintenance, research, community development and planning, tourism, and business development is able to make a long term commitment to communities across Illinois.”
Instead, on June 27, 2011 the City of Oregon hired Walter Wayne Development LLC (also known as DPS, formerly Diamond Petroleum Systems) of Rochelle.
DPS does “development,” construction, property management, real estate and investment opportunities.
In other words, they want to design it, build it, manage it after they build it, sell you the land to build it on and then seek people to pay for it.
The City of Oregon paid Dave Diamond’s company, Walter Wayne Development (DPS) $59,000 for “two phases” of an “Economic Development Plan” out of a $75,000 grant.
So far, Phase 1 and 2 have been a bit like smoke and mirrors, consisting of an “environmental review”, a “physical walk through spaces” and some computer-generated drawings showing the existing buildings in two downtown blocks razed, gone.
And while still in Phase 1 Dave Diamond went to our city council and asked to be assured of funding for Phase 3?
“You need to do all three phases,” Diamond said, “That cost analysis is the third leg where it all comes together.”
What is Phase 3? Don Griffin, ECD Chairman, said that Phase 3 will include 3D renderings of the “redevelopment proposal.”
Do we need a 3D model of our downtown buildings gone? How much will Phase 3 cost? $43,000. But this time, it appears it is Oregon taxpayer’s money, not a grant.
This scenario sounds eerily similar to a business deal between the Lee County board and Dave Diamond of Walter Wayne Development, where he proposed developing a truck stop at Interstate 39 and U.S. Route 30.
That deal fell through but Dave Diamond went home with $60,000 for essentially doing nothing.
Are we next? Has Dave Diamond discovered the ultimate “economic development” for Dave Diamond at the expense of communities like ours? In our case, the amount will be over $100,000.
On his company’s website, he currently has six projects-three are gas stations, one is an office condominium, and two retail “strip malls,”
Of the two retail “developments”, one is Cherry Valley Crossing in Rockford, which according to DPS’ website was completed Spring 2009.
Cherry Valley Crossing is empty, and is offered as an “investment opportunity.” And that is the most recent project-2009.
Why would this “developer” be so focused on just two city blocks in our town?
Well, in November Dave Diamond said that Sullivan Foods, currently located on Pines Road, is considering constructing a 36,000 to 39,000 square foot facility in the downtown.
Scott Sullivan would be the anchor store in Dave Diamond’s downtown strip mall. This is interesting because Scott Sullivan already has a store on Pines Road, a location that has been successfully supporting a grocery store since anyone can remember.
But, Sullivans has a history of positioning stores within a couple blocks of their competition.
In Winnebago, Sullivan Foods positioned themselves within two blocks of a SuperValu there, and it went out of business shortly afterward—a SuperValu that had been there for 31 years.
I have the utmost confidence in the Kaufman family that if any grocery store positioned themselves right across the street, Kaufman’s would prevail.
But in this instance, at what cost to our town? Having two grocery stores is good for your pocketbook and good for the city’s economy.
Going back to the grant from the State of Illinois, where is the “preserving the history and creating economic development opportunities for current and future businesses”?
Our downtown is registered with the National Register as a Historic Business District-the first one in Ogle County.
This is not a designation easily accomplished. It is based in part on the fact that our town square still reflects the master plan of our forefathers, a county seat with the original blueprint, intact.
We are special. Protect it.
1. Please communicate to your city council how you feel about this issue.
2. Support Oregon family businesses.
3. If you are able, attend the next meeting regarding this issue, Jan. 17, 12 noon at City Hall and ask questions.
Moving a current grocery store to a different location, destroying our downtown to accommodate Scott Sullivan, and lining the pockets of Dave Diamond with taxpayer’s money is not economic development.
Strouse says attend meetings
On Oct. 19, 2011 we attended the Oregon Economic Development Kickoff Dinner.
At the end of the evening I told Clint that my gut feeling about this project was not good.
We were unable to attend an of the other meetings held but began to hear things that gave
I began to hear things about tearing down buildings on Washington St. and North Fourth St. including the Coliseum and maybe the next block West.
OMG what were these folks thinking ???
First of all we have a wonderful grocery store down town, been there for years, well maintained and local family owned.
We have a clinic in town and Rockford Clinic has opened a facility in Byron for their patients in this area.
We do not need another clinic.
Clint said we are just a beautiful little river town that needs a little fixing up of our beautiful historic buildings.
I have a lot of people working on this project that I care about but I am dead set we don’t need this!
I have heard that some rude actions have happened, some people who do not want to sell or be made to sell their property.
I feel there are many folks that feel as I do so I’m asking you to attend the next meeting of the
Oregon Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, Jan.17 at Oregon City Hall at 12 noon.
Do not come to this meeting mad come with quiet concern and show support against this project.
I do need to add that the Coliseum has been pulled from this project and it is now known that Sullivan’s is the grocery store involved.
There is a lot more I could say but think I have covered what needed to be said at this time.
I feel many of you have had the same gut feeling I have so I hope this opens the door for you to come forward to let the committee know we do not want this project before any more money (our money I understand the grant money is used) is spent on this project.
Clint and Fran Strouse