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Mayor: Dixon moving past Rita

Burke outlines city's 2012 accomplishments

Rita Crundwell
Rita Crundwell

DIXON – Dixon will be defined by its beauty, history, culture and quality of life, not by the Rita Crundwell episode, Mayor Jim Burke said Wednesday in his annual state of the city address.

The city will look forward, not back, in 2013, he said in the written address, noting highlights of a year he called bittersweet.

“The Rita Crundwell embezzlement, not surprisingly, dominated city government for most of the year,” Burke said. “All major media led into their stories about Dixon as being the hometown of Ronald Reagan. I am confident that after the embezzlement becomes old news that Dixon will continue to be known for the Reagan connection and the many other attributes that make up our community.”

Burke said city officials responded to a credibility and trust issue that came in April with the former comptroller’s arrest for stealing nearly $53 million by being fully accessible to media and transparent to citizens.

He cited the City Council’s quick action to hire retired independent municipal finance officers Stan Helgerson and Dave Richardson to act as interim finance directors for the city.

He said new fiscal controls were instituted by retaining a new auditing firm, hiring a permanent finance director, Paula Meyer, and two additional employees, creating a checks-and-balances financial system and buying new financial software with extensive training for five employees.

“The city is now in a comfortable cash flow mode, and with prudent management, no further borrowing is anticipated,” Burke said.

He highlighted 25 other developments or accomplishments in 2012, in which he said, “reflected the vitality which is alive and well in the community.”

They include:

– 27 blocks of city streets being repaved.

– “Nonexistent” organized gang activity and gang violence, and no shootings in the past year.

– The Veteran’s Memorial Park Commission’s goal to build a $1 million museum.

– The Mumford & Sons concert event, which brought 15,000 fans to the city.

– Sewer Equipment Co. of America’s purchase of the former Johnson Controls plant, and its plans to hire 100 people.

– The new Angelo’s III restaurant on North Galena Avenue, U.S. Bank’s move to the Walmart area, Road Ranger’s purchase of DND Travel Plaza near the Interstate 88 interchange, the construction of 58 more units at Canterbury Apartments and Ace Hardware’s 11,620-square-foot addition.

– The expansion of the Lee County enterprise zone into Rochelle.

– The Lee County Council on Aging’s Reagan Transit Center breaking ground on a $1.7 million facility.

– $14.5 million in new construction and improvements permits issued in 2012.

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