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More arrests at bar despite new noise ordinance

Owner was arrested multiple times during the weekend

Sledgehammer's is located on Illinois 2 just north of Oregon.
Sledgehammer's is located on Illinois 2 just north of Oregon.

Despite Ogle County’s efforts to create a new noise ordinance in response to complaints about a bar just north of Oregon, arrests continued over the weekend. 

Sledgehammer’s owner, Jason Stombaugh, was arrested multiple times over the weekend for disorderly conduct stemming from noise complaints from area residents who chose to press charges. 

The county’s new noise ordinance, which has yet to be signed, only takes effect after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and after 8 p.m. on Sunday. Stombaugh has been arrested seven times. Twelve total arrests have been made of bar employees due to noise complaints. Stombaugh says none of them have come after 9 p.m. 

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle says the arrests will continue regardless of time if there are complaints and residents are willing to press charges. The amount of time spent responding to calls at the bar has started to mount, he said. 

“We’ve spent a good deal of time and energy on this,” VanVickle said. “I feel for the residents. There’s been over 150 calls. We’ve spent more time at Sledgehammer’s than in villages we have to patrol. It leaves the rest of the county exposed. We want everybody’s rights protected.”

Stombaugh said he was arrested by four deputies at once during one of the incidents over the weekend and called it “aggressive.” 

“They left with the band still playing,” Stombaugh said. “They don’t tell them to stop. It seems like more of a personal attack on us.”

Court dates stemming from the arrests will begin Wednesday, Sept. 23 for Stombaugh and bar managers Melissa Wall and Justin Coltrain.

“The impact will be decided in court,” Wall said. “The immediate impact is loss of revenue and defamation of our character. It’s a constant battle to keep people in.”

Stombaugh and Wall say they have lost $60,000 in business due to the arrests and have spent an “astronomical” amount of time dealing with lawyers and communicating with the county regarding the issue.

Stombaugh and Wall believe the noise ordinance falls short of resolving the issue. 

“Why did the county board waste everyone’s time? They did nothing about it,” Wall said. 

Sledgehammer’s plans to continue to have outdoor bands, weather permitting.

They say the bands end at 5 p.m. on Sundays and at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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