Rock Falls city clerk has history of service, involvement
Wescott encourages others to become active in process
|Rock Falls City Clerk Bill Wescott, 59, was born and raised in Rock Falls, and has been involved in local affairs for many years. He is considering a run for mayor in April 2013. (Alex T. Paschalemail@example.com)|
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ROCK FALLS – Next April, Bill Wescott will have been city clerk in Rock Falls for 10 years.
It will be the end of just the latest chapter of civic involvement and community service in his life.
Wescott, 59, was born and raised in Rock Falls. He has been involved in local affairs in the city for many years.
He served on the East Coloma School Board for 12 years and was on the Whiteside County Health Department board for 4 years. He is also a past president of the Rock Falls Rotary Club and has served on the local Red Cross board.
He is in his second 4-year elected term as city clerk.
The active citizen and leader in City Hall recently talked about the importance of community involvement and what lies ahead for him.
‘The hub of the city’
“The office of city clerk in any community, I feel, is the hub of the city,” Wescott said.
He and two other members of the clerk’s office keep things running for the entire city of Rock Falls. Wescott is quick to credit Michelle Conklin, deputy clerk, and Lori Simon, payroll clerk, for what they do.
The office is responsible for record management, record keeping, meeting minutes and agendas. In Rock Falls, the clerk’s office handles all of the city’s investments and health insurance, Wescott said.
“We have the opportunity to work with all the elected officials, we have an opportunity to work with all of our employees in the city, and we work with all of our department heads,” he said. “We enjoy what we do, and our business is customer service, both from an internal and an external standpoint.
“I enjoy it so much,” he said. “I would have never thought that I would have been city clerk of Rock Falls.”
Longtime Rock Falls Alderman Daehle Reitzel called Wescott “a very intelligent man.”
“Just about anything you need or want or have questions about, they have it for you,” Reitzel said. “Not just only him, the two girls in the office, they’re fantastic.”
Wescott is also resourceful, Reitzel said.
“He’s very good, service-wise,” he said. “If you ever attend a meeting, he’s always correcting somebody. All you have to do is look at Dixon. The clerk is the one that found the error. In our town, [it would be] just about impossible for this to happen.”
Alderman Jim Schuneman said Wescott is “invaluable” to the city of Rock Falls.
“All the work he’s done, especially the work he has done investigating health insurance, it’s invaluable,” he said. “He doesn’t have to do that; he just does. That’s been his nature.”
City Administrator Robbin Blackert agreed. She said Wescott and the entire clerk’s office had been helpful in her first year in office.
“It’s not just limited to the clerk’s office,” she said. “The great thing is that everyone is very passionate about the city and very loyal and wants to see the city grow.”
When Wescott first became clerk, the economy was much better in Rock Falls. More homes were going up.
With the loss of jobs at Parrish-Alford and factories closing across the river in Sterling, the area began to see a slow decline in industry, he said.
“A lot of people lost jobs,” he recalled. “Many moved away, but many stayed. But overall, the economic impact, not even related to the economy today, changed how things went. We were still at that time a big retail and service-based community.”
People used to be much more involved with their city government, too.
“I do remember my father being a fireman down at the old station, upstairs, that was City Hall, and you had to literally go up over 48 stairs,” he said. “I remember when I’d go see my dad at the station, and watch. The place used to be packed. People were there and people stood up and addressed them [the council].”
It’s important for people to run for office, too, he said. When voters see an uncontested ballot, they might not think their vote makes a difference.
“If you don’t think things are right, pick up the sword,” he said. “Be the one that steps to the front, that leads the next charge.”
One of his goals is to “get some pride back in the city that seemingly has been lost through the apathy,” he said. “Clean up our properties, get out volunteer groups back up and running, get the community back involved with the government.”
It’s his passion for helping improve his community that might lead Wescott to the next chapter of his life.
What lies ahead
Although Wescott’s term as city clerk will expire next April, another position in City Hall might be in his future.
Wescott said he has given consideration to running for mayor.
Because of his time working in other industries, Wescott said, his salary drops and his retirement drops because it is based on the 4 highest years in the last 10.
“If I don’t take my retirement at the end of this term, I start losing money down the road, so I’m going to do that,” he said. “I have had people talk to me about it, and I am giving peripheral consideration to it.”
He won’t have to decide until the fall. That’s when information will be available on next year’s election, he said.
Running for mayor would be a way to give back to the community and remain involved.
“I’ve been a volunteer and worked in many, many, many different aspects in my life,” he said. “The city of Rock Falls is important to me, unlike folks who, for whatever reason, grow up in a city and then leave.
“I think our community of Rock Falls and our sister community of Sterling have a lot to give. Why not just stay here and foster that and basically produce a future for other people that are still to come?”
Rock Falls Mayor David Blanton said he plans to seek re-election in April.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good history,” Blanton said. “I’ve been involved in many, many things in the community. I’ve proven to be a man of my word, and I think I’ve accomplished a lot of things. No one man does anything. It’s leadership.”
Wescott said that if he does decide to run for mayor, Blanton will be the first person he notifies.
When Wescott started Twin City Ambulance in the late 1970s, his wife, Linda, asked him what other crazy ventures he would pursue in the future.
“I said, someday, I want to be mayor of the city I was born in.”
Hometown: Rock Falls
Family: Linda, 55, wife of 33 years. Two sons: Jeremy, 34, of Phoenix, and Kelley, 30, of Bloomington.
Education: 1970 Rock Falls High School grad.
Community involvement: East Coloma School Board for 12 years; Whiteside County Health Department board for 4 years; member of the Optimist Club; past president of Rock Falls Rotary; served on Red Cross board; chaired divisions for the United Way of Whiteside County; served as chairman of the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association; volunteered for Rock Falls Little League.
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