On May 31, 2011 I reported this story and supplied several updates. See: http://boonecountywatchdog.blogspot.com/2011/05/sycamore-attorney-faces-prostitution.html I wish to thank Betsy Lopez in picking-up on the story and giving readers many new details. Her story is on page 3c of the June 10, 2011 Rockford Register Star.
Friday, June 10, 2011
County Fire Districts Agree to More Talking
By Bob Balgemann
The following is from page 2 of the June 10 Boone County Journal which is available free of cost at local merchants and also available on-line at: http://boonecountyjournal.com/news/2011/Boone-County-News-06-10-11.pdf#page=3
Fire Districts #1, #2 and #3 the Boone County
Board still don’t agree on whether an ordinance should be in
place to require all commercial buildings to have sprinkler
But, after meeting June 2, they all agreed to communicate
better with one another in the future. Fire chiefs will revisit
the so-called “zero tolerance’’ ordinance and bring their
findings to the appropriate county committees.
Among those mentioned were public safety, health and
human services and zoning.
“The chiefs will come back with what they think
will work,’’ said attorney Brian O’Connor, representing
Districts #2 and #3.
The question of communication was almost immediately
placed on the table.
“This was kind of a surprise to everyone,’’ District #2
board member Laura Hart said of the ordinance. “Were there
any attempts to have community meetings in your districts
to see what people thought about it?’’
District #2 board member Cathy Ward wondered the
same thing, asking if it was just the chiefs who made this
decision or if others were involved? “This has been bubbling
up at meetings for a year now,’’ she added.
While District #1 Fire Chief Greg Holmes answered that
no community meetings were held, he assured that he had
talked to a lot of people about it, with 50 percent in favor of
the ordinance and 50 percent opposed to it.
“Would you be willing to have one now?’’ Hunt asked.
“Yes,’’ Holmes answered. While the county and fire
districts have had communication problems in the past, he
said, “It would be nice if the county and fire districts were
together on this. We legitimately felt we were doing the
Fire officials remained firm June 2 in their belief that
sprinkler systems would save property and lives in Boone
Ordinance in the Works Since 2007
District #3 Fire Chief Gail Worley said he started
working on the ordinance in 2007, when there was a lot
of construction in the Poplar Grove area. He said he had a
problem with one building owner who promised to put in
a sprinkler system but never did. “So I went to the village
board; we now have zero tolerance in the village of Poplar
That prompted District #3 board member Terri Glass to
question the motivation behind the requirement. She said
she was concerned that it came about because Worley was
upset with one building owner.
Worley said that was not the case. Other owners, he
said, were constructing buildings that were just under the
minimum square-footage threshold for a sprinkler.
Cost entered the picture when Belvidere architect Paul
Ollmann said there can be financial difficulties “when you
have a $50,000 project and a $100,000 sprinkler system. He
estimated that a sprinkler system would cost $3 a square
Another architect, Gary W. Anderson, wrote in a letter to
the board that “such a requirement is over-reaching and will
create a significant financial hardship on everyone.’’
He wrote that the International Building Code used by
the county “has very sufficient requirements to provide
adequate protection of occupants and buildings. The IBC
is very specific as to when a fire protection sprinkler is
But Holmes countered that most commercial buildings
without sprinkler systems that experience a major fire do
not rebuild. That leaves a vacant building and people out of
work, he said.
“Sprinkler systems will stop a fire cold,’’ consultant
Bob Olsen said. “It’s designed to save the building and put
people back to work.’’
Hunt attempted to temper the differing opinions by
explaining the county board’s job is to represent all residents.
Members got involved in this issue, she said, “when people
came to us saying the ordinance was affecting their ability to
make a living. This is a big deal with people.’’