Monday, November 21, 2016
By Susan MoranCorrespondent
POPLAR GROVE — The former Eden Processing Inc. building at 100 East St. caught fire today, drawing response from multiple county fire departments.
The building has been vacant for several years and no one was inside at the time of the fire, said Gail Worley, chief of North Boone Fire District 3. Eight different departments responded.
"We contained it pretty much to one or two rooms, it was nothing real major," Worley said. "It looked like it was going to spread but we were able to get it under control."
Firefighters were dispatched shortly after noon and arrived to find heavy black smoke pouring from the building. The fire was contained to the southwest corner of the building, Worley said.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. State fire marshals are investigating.
County Board says no to proposed railroad projectPosted: Friday, Nov 18th, 2016
BY: JENNIFER SIMMONS
OREGON — In a 23-1 vote Tuesday night, Ogle County Board members voted to pass a resolution that urges the Surface Transportation Board to pursue a "no-action alternative" of denying the petition or application of the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad project.
The resolution passed highlights the effects the proposed railroad project would have on Ogle County – including specific negative effects to townships of Scott, White Rock, Lynnville, Dement and Flagg.
Village of Davis Junction Trustee William Luchsinger spoke to the board about his concern over the proposed railroad project and its impact on his community.
“Due to the change in the route, the railroad will now go ¼-mile of the current north/south railroad [in the village] and would be detrimental to our entire village,” Luchsinger said. “The effects on a proposed subdivision and plans for a restaurant/gas station already in place would be detrimental.”
The village has had to put all development plans on hold because of the proposed re-route of the railroad.
Luchsinger added that the proposal would bring an estimated 85 to 100 trains per day with 100 or more cars using the new tracks.
“[We’d see] a train every 13 minutes…. It’s a detriment to our village,” he said.
The negative impacts would include environmental, agricultural and safety to members of the community.
In a report prepared by the Ogle County Planning and Zoning Department and presented to county board members, details of the proposed railroad were outlined, including impacts on communities throughout Ogle County.
Impact on Natural Resources
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has designated and mapped floodplains, or Special Flood Hazard Areas within Ogle County. Encroachment on floodplains by development, such as structures and fill, reduces the flood-carrying capacity, increases the flood heights and velocities, and increases flood hazards in areas beyond the encroachment itself.
The proposed GLBRR will cross several mapped Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), including the following:
> Ryly Ditch SFHA in Section 28 Dement Township (Flood zone AE);
> Creston Ditch SFHA in Section 21 Dement Township (Flood zone AE);
> Kilbuck Creek tributary in Section 5, 8 and 9 Dement Township (Flood zoned A).
In addition, the proposed GLBRR will cross seven other small streams that have not been mapped as having a SFHA, but may experience occasional flood events
Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.
The proposed GLBRR crosses two mapped wetlands in Ogle County:
> Freshwater emergent wetland in Section 36 White Rock Township;
> Freshwater emergent wetland in Section 2 White Rock Township.
• Impact on Transportation Systems
The new preferred route for the GLBRR will cross 18 public roadways and one private roadway in Ogle County. The letter from Frank Patton, Chairman of Great Lakes Basin
Transportation, Inc. (GLBT) to Kim Gouker dated Nov. 4, states that GLBT is planning multiple overpasses for major roads as well as utilizing quiet zone at-grade crossings where possible. However, it is uncertain at this time what type of crossing (if any) is proposed for the various locations.
The following is a listing of the roadways currently planned to be crossed in Ogle County (in order from south to north).
1) Ritchie Road (Dement Township) - Serves as an access point to the south end of the Rochelle Dual Rail Industrial Park. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
2) Interstate 88 (Illinois Tollway) - Mandatory grade separation (bridge).
3) Creston Road (City of Rochelle) - Serves as connection between Rochelle and Creston. Also access to Rochelle landfill with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
4) IL Route 38 - East/West running state route from Dixon to Chicago suburbs. This location is likely to have a grade separation (bridge) but may be an at-grade crossing.
5) Twombly Road (Dement Township) - Rural road with access to both sides of I-39 with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
6) Interstate 39 - Mandatory grade separation (bridge).
7) Lind Road (Dement Township) - Rural road connecting IL Route 251 to Lynnville Road. This site could have an at-grade crossing or may be petitioned for closure.
8) IL Route 251 (IDOT) - North/South running state route connecting Mendota to Beloit, Wis. This location is likely to have a grade separation (bridge) but may be an at-grade crossing.
9) Bethel Road (Village of Hillcrest) - Rural village road that access both sides of I-39. There is a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
10) Kent Road (White Rock Township) - Rural north/south road approximately 1.5 miles long. At-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
11) IL Route 64 (IDOT) - East/West running state route connecting Savanna to Chicago. Likely to have a grade separation (bridge), but may be an at-grade crossing.
12) Mowers Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting White Rock Road to Malta Road in DeKalb County with access to both sides of I-39 and adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. An at-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
13) Dutch Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Church Road to IL Route 251 that runs adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. At-grade crossing, or may be petitioned for road closure.
14) Lindenwood Road (White Rock Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Stillman Road to DeKalb County with access to both sides of I-39 and adjacent to and parallel to Illinois Railnet tracks. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
15) Holcomb Road (Ogle County) - East/West running rural road connecting German Church Road to Lindenwood with a proposed crossing located 0.5 miles east of Illinois Railnet. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
16) Big Mound Road (Scott Township) - East/West running rural road connecting Meridian Road to Mulford Road with access to both sides of I-39. High probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
17) IL Route 72 (IDOT) - East/West running state route connecting Lake Carroll to O’Hare. Likely to have a grade separation (bridge), but may be an at-grade crossing.
18) Scott Road (Private) - Private dirt road that connects Junction Road to Orchard Hills Landfill. Likely to be closed to through traffic.
19) Edson Road (Rockford Township) - East/West running rural road passing between two landfills with a high probability of at-grade crossing at this location.
There are currently approximately 150 railroad crossings of roads and highways in Ogle County.
The proposed GLBRR would add up to 19 new crossings – an increase of 12.7 percent. The majority of these new crossings will likely be at-grade crossings rather than grade-separated crossings (bridges).
James Milligan, an Ogle County farmer, voiced his concerns over the project stating the track would intersect through his cattle farm.
“The track would run 3/10 of a mile from my main farm and I would have to go nearly 5-miles around to feed my cattle,” Milligan said. “There’s an awful lot of good farm land not being farmed.”
Lauren Hintzsche – a resident in Lynnville Township – also had concerns of the project, specifically reminding county board members how others have voted against the project.
“On June 13 the Rochelle City Council did pass a resolution against the railroad even though the city could benefit from the project,” she said.
Following public comment, county board members voiced their concerns as well.
“I don’t see any advantage to this in our county,” Bill Welty (Dist. 2) said. “Trains could be carrying hazardous materials close to our schools [in some instances].”
“This project is effecting neighbors, roads, townships and cutting off several roads [in our county],” Nick Bolin (Dist. 1) said. “I find this unacceptable and am voting no.”
“There are so many unknowns and they want us in the dark,” Tom Smith, White Rock Township supervisor said.
Smith added that school buses, emergency services and law enforcement would all be slowed or re-routed by trains passing through the township on new tracks.
Board member Ron Colson cast the only vote against the resolution.
“We really don’t know what we’re dealing with,” Colson said. “There’s already been two plans –there could be four or five. We don’t know.”
For the complete article see the 11-21-2016 issue.
Boone County has elected its new board; now members will vote among themselves and select the next county chairman. The chairman has the power to appoint more than 100 individuals throughout the county to these positions and committees;planning commission, zoning board of appeals, building board of appeals,board of review,and the health department’s board. This is a very powerful position.
Our current chairman will retire after eight years, but his policies will continue. With a usual 8-to-4 approval vote by the board, he has appointed, in some cases, multiple family members, cousin, and friends to these influential positions with terms lasting one to five years, thereby extending the current chairman’s political position on matters for years to come.
The chairman appointed or didn't appoint elected county board members to the seven standing committees, which run the central government. If you didn’t support his position on matters, you were likely overlooked for a committee position where you might have presented opposition to his plans.
These seven committees direct the future of our county, how it will grow, what projects get done and who gets their budgets approved. Our current financial situation has evolved over the past eight years. Decreased tax revenue and increased demands from our county departments with little or no effort to conserve spending has brought us to this deficit-crisis.
The chairman, his supporters on the board and some of the farming sector decided no one could have a big turbine. Now the opportunity to provide clean industry is gone. The wind farms would have provided a much-needed revenue resource. Individual landowners had a choice. Not now. Individual rights gone.
The chairman’s invitation to “bring on the train” blindsided our citizens and left them scrambling to protect their homes and property. There was no individual right to say, “Not on my land.”
The chairman’s decision to end the City-County Planning Department. and the Belvidere-Boone County Regional Planning Commission was financially irresponsible. It has cost the county twice the money to have a planning department and has ended our grant money from the state. State grant money for regional planning helped both the county and the city in carrying out plans for future growth, and that included infrastructure to bring industry to our area. Board members Branson, Freeman, Shultz and Ward voted against that insanity.
The new chairman must understand finance, work well with the county administrator, all members of the board, be able to negotiate and bring clean industry to our area. It will require a person who has an open mind to the needs of our county and a vision for its future. He must represent all 54,000 citizens, not special interest groups or just those of the farmers. He must conduct open and transparent government.
A good start would be for the city and county to come together and restore the City-County Planning Department and the Belvidere-BC Regional Planning Commission. It would be financially beneficial for both. Any industry that comes to the county or the city will bring tax dollars to both governments. The city is within the county and common sense says, “WORK TOGETHER.”
Toria Funderburg is a 40-year Boone County citizen.