County board: Bond abatement for new jail approved

At its monthly meeting Monday, the Ogle County Board unanimously approved an ordinance abating taxes to pay for the recently-constructed new Ogle County Jail. (Photo by Jeff Helfrich)

Resolution opposing state gun bill approved

OREGON — At its monthly meeting Monday, the Ogle County Board unanimously approved an ordinance abating taxes to pay for the recently-constructed new Ogle County Jail.

The ordinance abated taxes levied for the year 2022 to pay debt service on $9,705,000 general obligation bonds (alternate revenue source), series 2018; $4,760,000 general obligation bonds (alternate revenue source), series 2019 and $6,523,000 general obligation bonds (alternate revenue source), series 2020.

The jail was completed in late 2020 and inmates moved to it in February 2021.

The 42,000 square-foot, 154-bed facility consists of multiple housing blocks utilizing direct supervision methods for both males and females in custody. Areas in the building include public waiting and visitation, video visitation, facility administration, holding and intake, medical, kitchen, laundry, inmate property storage and a vehicular “sally port” for bringing in and moving inmates safely. 

The project came in $800,000 under budget with no delays. The previous Ogle County Jail was demolished in recent months.

HB 5471

The board unanimously passed a resolution opposing House Bill 5471, a recently passed and signed state legislation that bans the sale and manufacture of assault weapons in Illinois. 

Current owners of high-power assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and ammunition, and large-capacity magazines will be allowed to keep them, but will be required to register them with the Illinois State Police prior to Jan. 1, 2024 or face a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in prison and the degree of charges could increase based on number of unregistered weapons.

On Jan. 11, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle and approximately 80 other sheriffs in the state issued statements saying they’ll refuse to enforce a provision of the bill that requires current owners to register their weapons.

“I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” VanVickle’s statement said. “Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for Ogle County, proclaim that neither myself or my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the state, nor will we be arresting or housing individuals that have been charged solely with non-compliance of this act.”

Board Member Thomas K. Smith thanked the sheriff for speaking out during Monday's meeting. 

"I stand to thank Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle for coming out publicly and telling the legislature where to put it and protecting my second amendment rights,” Smith said. “Thank you."


The board also unanimously passed a resolution opposing House Bill 4412, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. 

“This is basically about whether the state would take over doing our zoning for us for solar panels and wind power,” Board Chairman John Finfrock said. “We have basically nothing to say about it at this point and it hasn't been signed yet. But I think we should still take a stance that they're taking away from our citizens and our authority to do our job.”

Lowell Park Road

The board unanimously passed two measures to allow for resurfacing of Lowell Park Road from the Lee County line to Pines Road. The first was a joint funding agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the use of $784,000 in federal funds on the project. 

The remainder of the project's cost will be covered by $196,000 in Ogle County funds out of its federal aid matching fund, which was the second measure the board approved.

Hiring freeze

The board unanimously passed a resolution extending its hiring freeze on county employment for five years that became effective as of its passing Monday. 


Finfrock presented a plaque to former Board Member Bruce McKinney (Rochelle), whose time on the board ended recently. McKinney was a board member for 10 years and served on the zoning committee. Prior to that, he was on the County Zoning Board of Appeals for over 15 years.

“We will miss you being on the board,” Finfrock said. “He always came to the meetings ready and we appreciated that. I want to present you with this plaque for your years of dedication to the county and the people in it.”

Board Member Susie Corbitt also spoke during the presentation. She worked with McKinney, a former Rochelle city clerk, for about 25 years in that profession.

“He was very involved with the Northwest Illinois Municipal Clerks Association and worked his way up on the board there,” Corbitt said. “I want Bruce to know that I so personally appreciate everything that you gave to your profession.”

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