County Board Democrats aim for committee chairmanship

During the March 22 Winnebago County Board meeting, Doug Aurand (D-3) questioned the lack of reports from a committee on which Mary Ann Aiello (R-9) served as chairman.

“I’ve been serving on this board for almost three and a half months, and the [Health & Human Services] Committee has never come in with a report,” Aurand indicated, “which would lead me to believe they are not holding meetings.”

Aiello acknowledged she’d resigned as chairman of the committee. County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen said a new chairman will be appointed at the next board meeting April 12.

Board Democrats serve as chairman of only two of 10 standing committees. The Board is composed of 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

Raptors fight to win charitable dollars

During public participation at the Winnebago County Board’s March 22 meeting, Donald C. Renton spoke on behalf of the Rock River Raptors United Indoor Football (UIF) team.

“The league wants to send our county free money from Omaha,” Renton announced.

The Omaha-based UIF is running a community service contest among the league’s 11 teams. The team with the most community service hours at the end of the season wins a donation in their name to the charity of their choice.

No dollar amount was specified.

Sixty complimentary tickets to the Raptors’ March 24 game were made available to anyone present at the meeting.

In 1986, Rockford hosted the first-ever arena football game.

To schedule the appearance of Raptors players at your event, call 815-965-7000.

Ag-land rezoned

Also during public comments, Sammy Scott Richardson addressed the Board regarding his petition to rezone 5 acres in Durand Township from Agricultural Priority to Rural Agricultural District.

Richardson wishes to build a home on his family’s farm and said he has the blessings of the Farm Bureau.

The zoning map amendment is not consistent with the land use plan, and the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously recommended denying the request. The Zoning Committee, however, voted 4-1 to recommend approval.

Tom Owens (R-1) argued in favor of the map amendment, noting Richardson wants to build the home on “lesser soil,” not prime agricultural land.

“This is an example of how the great mystery of the Zoning Board’s decisions comes upon us is just almost like being in a fog,” Pete MacKay (R-5) remarked. “This is a perfectly good petition, and I certainly support it.”

The board unanimously approved the amendment.

State grant to repair westside homes

Jim Hughes, director of planning and economic development, said the Economic Development Committee had obtained a $260,000 grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The grant will make possible the rehabilitation of as many as 10 single-family homes on Johnston Avenue near Auburn Street in Rockford.

The board approved an intergovernmental cooperation agreement with the City of Rockford to make the improvements happen.

Hughes explained criteria for the grant specified the need for certain positions, such as a lead-based paint specialist, a position the city already has on staff.

The county will pay the city employees an hourly rate for their work on the project.

Memorial Hall rental guidelines adjusted

Board members unanimously approved a resolution to update rental guidelines for Veterans’ Memorial Hall. Last year, the County Board decided against allowing rental of the hall to the Minutemen, a group fighting illegal immigration. The board deemed the organization too political.

The updated guidelines broaden who can use the hall, but renters are now required to pay for insurance and event security.

Rental of Memorial Hall is still free to veterans’ groups.

“I think there are a whole lot of us who are veterans who regard that as an extremely special, almost holy, building,” MacKay explained. “The use of that building is for veterans of all wars that have been fought by and for this country.”

Call for accountability in care of veterans

Aurand introduced a resolution in response to recent reports of poor care at veterans’ hospitals, namely the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“We’re all very disturbed the way the federal government is treating our Iraq veterans, and our other veterans, with their medical facilities,” Aurand explained.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Mel Paris (D-8) and L.C. Wilson (D-12), was referred to the Legislative Committee for review.

The resolution reads, in part: “Be it further resolved, that the Winnebago County Board formally demand an accounting from the President of the United States, Congress, including Senators [Richard] Durbin and [Barack] Obama, and Congressman Don Manzullo, the Veteran’s Administration, and any and all responsible for the medical welfare of our troops.”

Should the full County Board adopt the resolution, it will be forwarded to the aforementioned parties.

Inspection reveals problems at Ledges

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District Executive Director Tom Kalousek gave a report about Roscoe’s Ledges Golf Course.

“Golf continues to struggle meeting its capital equipment and project needs,” Kalousek said, noting options were still being looked into. “Recently, however, as part of the liquor application licensed by our concessionaire at the Ledges, there was a building inspection that was done. We had a series of relatively minor things that we had to correct, and then some concern about a wall in the basement, which is not used by the public.”

Kalousek is optimistic the course will open on time, but said the needed adjustments for compliance will cost as much as $50,000.


Former Winnebago County Board member Chris K. Johnson was appointed to the Memorial Hall Board of Trustees for a two-year term expiring in March 2008. Johnson will complete the unexpired term of Robert Shafer.

David Byrnes was reappointed to a two-year term on the Memorial Hall Board of Trustees, expiring March of 2009.

Robert Johnson and Beverly Kingsley were reappointed to five-year terms with the Winnebago County Housing Authority.

Richard Brown was reappointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term ending in June 2011.

from the March 28-April 3, 2007, issue

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