By Stuart R. Wahlin
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) condemned the recent relocation to Rockford of 70-year-old Gary Welsh, who was convicted in 1962 for the rape and murder of 3-year-old Marlene Casteel in McHenry County.
Welsh was placed in a halfway house on Halsted Road by the Illinois Department of Human Services after McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather agreed to release him with more than three-dozen restrictions, including electronic monitoring and home confinement, despite requests by the offices of the Illinois attorney general and the McHenry County state’s attorney to keep Welsh under lock and key.
Morrissey said: “That person, we’re told, has zero connections to Rockford, Ill., and, frankly, Winnebago County, but was released here by a judge in a different county—a judge, by the way, who doesn’t stand for re-election…by anyone sitting in this county. I think it’s wrong. I think our state legislature needs to address it. The fact is we had no standing to enter into that case, from all accounts that I’ve gotten, to even object.”
Welsh was paroled from prison in 2004, but until his conditional release last week, remained in state custody for psychological evaluations. State psychologists determined Welsh is still a pedophile, but that he doesn’t pose a risk to the community.
Morrissey argued that McHenry County’s burden shouldn’t be pushed on the Rockford community. He specifically noted that local law enforcement will have to monitor Welsh, and that because he’s elderly, area hospitals may also have to provide services.
“I don’t think it’s fair to our citizens,” the mayor added. “Whatever your opinion may be about whether or not this individual should be released, the fact that our community will have to absorb the resources to support the effort…is wrong.”
Morrissey said he e-mailed state legislators, urging them to take up the issue as soon as possible to “at least give us a voice in a case like that, when our citizens would be impacted.”
→ Awarding a $149,246 bid to Civil Constructors, Inc., of Freeport, for repairs to the Harrison Avenue bridge over the Rock River.
→ Awarding a $282,823.90 bid to Alliance Contractors, of Woodstock, for sidewalk and curb improvements along Rockton Avenue.
→ Approving a $56,000 increase to a Circles of Learning child care contract. The increase provides for the care of eight additional children for as many as 248 days this year.
→ Awarding Scandroli Construction Company’s $2,064,250 bid for improvements to the Well U10 treatment facility addition.
→ Approving a sole-source contract to the University of Illinois College of Medicine Board of Trustees to conduct a survey for the Drug Free Rockford initiative. The cost of the study will be paid through a grant from the state’s Department of Human Services.
→ Approving the sale of a city-owned lot at 430 Concord Ave. for a minimum bid of $1,040.
→ Awarding contracts for mowing and grounds maintenance to bidders O.C. Landscape, of Elgin, Trammell & Sons Landscape, Inner City Construction, Green Tree Landscaping and M&B Landcare.
Roland Poska encouraged Rockford residents to take part in a July 4 event at West State and Main streets to promote peace and equality. Poska hopes to arrange male and female speakers from a variety of races for the event, which will include an aerial photograph being taken of the diverse crowd in attendance.
Prophet Yusef offered several suggestions aimed at balancing the budgets of local governments. Yusef argued property taxes need to be lowered, and that banks should provide more equity loans to Rockford homeowners to prevent an exodus of area residents, while also attracting new ones. He also suggested that homeowners have the option of paying their property taxes in weekly, bi-weekly or monthly installments.
“This would help bring money in every month that you could invest,” Yusef said. “And this would help you have a surplus, so your books would be balanced.”
Proclamations and recognition
The week of April 11 was proclaimed National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and Rockford Junior League Week. April 17-24 was proclaimed Money Smart Week. April 24 was proclaimed Comcast Cares Day.
Aldermen observed a moment of silence to honor Rockford firefighter Lt. Kelli Ingardona, who passed away after a battle with cancer.
The United Way recognized the Rockford firefighters union for raising more than $27,000 to help the local charity reach its $4.5 million fund-raising goal.
Aldermen Bill Timm (R-9) and Linda McNeely (D-13) were absent.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue