County board: Ordinances passed to meet new state solar and wind statutes
Oregon's Radostits recognized as Illinois Teacher of the Year
OREGON — At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Ogle County Board unanimously passed three ordinances and unanimously repealed its previous solar resolution to meet a recently-passed state statute that sets statewide standards for wind and solar farm siting and takes away previous local controls such as at the county level.
Back in early 2019, the Ogle County board approved a solar resolution providing conditions for a special use permit for solar farms, That resolution was repealed Tuesday. The board made text amendments to its zoning ordinance Tuesday and also passed wind energy facilities and solar energy facilities siting and operation ordinances.
Back in January, the board unanimously passed a resolution opposing House Bill 4412, due to its desire to keep local control. At its February meeting, the board heard comments from multiple county residents that were against more wind and solar power in the county, especially on a large scale near homes and farms.
The Ogle County Board established an ad-hoc committee to work on the solar and wind issue to meet state statutes. The wind ordinance is the county's first. Board Member Dan Janes presented the changes and gave his thoughts on the state legislation.
"This was created by a group from Cook County and downtown Chicago," Janes said. "The funny thing is they're exempt because it does not affect any counties with two million or more people. And you can guess how many counties in Illinois meet that criteria. It's don't do as I do, do as I say."
Janes thanked the ad-hoc committee and the zoning board for their work on the topic.
"Everything is functioning extremely well to get to this end," Janes said. "Because there's a lot of counties that aren't quite there yet."
The board and Regional Superintendent of Schools Chris Tennyson recognized Oregon High School teacher Kim Radostits for her 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year honor at the meeting.
Radostits was recently one of the finalists for National Teacher of the Year. She serves OHS as a Spanish teacher and has spent her entire career with the school. Radostits has spent the past year as Illinois Teacher of the Year on a state-sponsored sabbatical, speaking at conferences and visiting schools across the state to share information about her work at OHS.
"I am who I am as a result of 37 years of experiences and people who believed in me so that I could help others," Radostits said. "I still get emotional about this particular award even though it was announced in March 2022. I've spent my entire career in Oregon and I've carried Hawk pride in every experience I've had as Illinois Teacher of the Year."
Radostits has had the chance to join the other 54 state teachers of the year at five national events. That included a week in Washington D.C.
"Three weeks ago I was sitting in the rose garden at a ceremony celebrating teachers," Radostits said. "And I was sitting three feet away from President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden as they talked about the teaching profession. I spent the entire ceremony thinking about experiences I've had here in Oregon for the past 16 years."
Tennyson and the board also recognized Meridian School District Superintendent PJ Caposey for his 2023 Illinois Superintendent of the Year honor. Caposey was unable to attend the meeting, but Tennyson sang his praises.
"When someone wins state superintendent of the year, and then makes the top four for superintendent of the nation, that's a pretty big deal," Tennyson said. "And a lot of times they move on to bigger and better things. It's so exciting to me as a regional superintendent that the Oregon School District has locked Dr. Caposey in to take over as superintendent after Dr. Mahoney retires. He'll be here serving the students and families in Oregon for a long time."
The board heard an update from Larson & Darby Group CEO Steve Nelson. The engineering firm is in the midst of looking at improvements to the Ogle County Public Safety Campus, which houses the Ogle County Sheriff's Office and its maintenance department.
Nelson and Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said there are multiple deteriorating buildings on the campus and Larson & Darby Group has been looking at a number of concepts for its future including demolition of those buildings, new construction, and short-term repairs at a lower cost. Issues with the buildings have included roof failures and drainage.
VanVickle said the roof of one of the buildings partially collapsed three weeks ago and water leaks have been an issue since 2017.
"There's probably between $2.5-3.5 million worth of equipment in that building right now," VanVickle said. "Obviously that's a concern. We're going to have to do something moving forward with what this looks like. It's coming much quicker than we think. I think there's some short-term and long-term options we'll look at."
The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Davis Junction to hire a consultant to look at the Orchard Hills Landfill to see what types of waste it's made up of.
The village and county have been engaged in a multi-year negotiation process with Waste Management and its predecessors in interest of new host agreements to better account for the types of waste being transported to and disposed at the landfill, and the tipping fees paid on that waste.
Old jail site
Board Member Don Griffin said that at next month's meeting, the board will review bid documents for the finishing of the parking lot and sidewalks at the former site of the recently-demolished Ogle County Jail.