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Board holds off on buying building

Officials surprised their $60,000 offer accepted

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

(Continued from Page 1)

DIXON – Some Lee County Board members on Tuesday wanted an immediate decision to buy land to build a dog pound.

Not so fast, others said.

Despite the pleas for action, members voted 10-9 to hold off for at least a month on buying the property from the Lee County Industrial Development Association.

The land in question is in the association’s industrial park, near Interstate 88 and state Route 26. It is next to the Lee-Ogle Transportation System’s soon-to-be-finished building.

Members John Nicholson, R-Franklin Grove, and Marilyn Shippert, R-Dixon, pushed to buy the property. After a closed session last month, the board voted to make an offer, although members revealed no details.

The offer was for $60,000, members said at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We didn’t anticipate they’d accept the offer,” Shippert said. “But they did. If you make an offer, and they say yes, you’ve bought it.”

However, Tom Kitson, R-Dixon, said he didn’t believe the County Board had agreed to buying the land.

“I’m fearful that we are willy-nilly spending taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Dick Binder, R-Compton, said he had the same view. He recommended the board go back into closed session to listen to the tape from last month’s closed session.

Members questioned whether an animal control facility would comply with the industrial park’s covenants, and they wanted to know how much it would cost to do dirt work to prepare the property.

No one had definite answers. Members asked Jaime Blatti, executive director of LOTS, about the dirt work for her agency’s next-door building. She responded that it was substantial.

Members said they needed more information, suggesting the county consult an engineer before buying the land. The board then went into closed session for 35 minutes.

After the doors opened, Allyn Buhrow, R-Ashton, proposed the board delay a decision for at least a month. Before the contract is signed, he said, the board needs to figure out the issues involving the covenants and dirt work.

The board majority agreed.

Afterward, board Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, said he expected the building to cost between $100,000 and $120,000. The entire project, including landscaping and other items, will end up costing about $200,000, he said.

“Over 15 years, it would pay for itself,” he said.

The building eventually may be used for other purposes, including for the county’s highway department, Ketchum said.

The county has been looking to have its own dog pound since last year. It now houses dogs at River Ridge Animal Hospital, on state Route 2 west of town. The hospital, however, hiked its basic rates by 20 percent – from $1,600 to $1,900 a month. Other fees increased as well.

That prompted the county to look for other options.

County officials said it would be more convenient for the public to have a consolidated animal control agency. The animal control office is on the third floor of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 5 miles from River Ridge.

Last year, the county proposed using an existing building at 1213 River Road for the pound, but neighbors complained about having it so close to their homes. The Dixon Plan Commission rejected the idea.

Chandler leaves board

DIXON – Dave Chandler, R-Dixon, has resigned from the Lee County Board.

In December, Chandler became chairman of the board's Finance Committee, replacing Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, who was elected chairman.

Ketchum announced Tuesday that Chandler was leaving for "personal reasons."

Arlan McClain, R-Dixon, the former director of Kreider Services, now will head the Finance Committee.

Ketchum will nominate a replacement, who must be a Republican and whom the board must approve.

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