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Wescott wants local feedback

Mayor-elect plans to form citizens panel

Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Rock Falls City Clerk Bill Wescott will be sworn in as mayor during Tuesday's Rock Falls City Council meeting. The mayor-elect said he wants to form a citizens advisory committee to receive public feedback.
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Some Rock Falls residents are upset that banners leading into the city read “Welcome to Sterling.” Incoming Mayor Bill Wescott said he hopes to work with his Sterling counterpart to find a solution. Wescott will take office Tuesday.

ROCK FALLS – Mayor-elect Bill Wescott is planning another way to get input from residents.

Wescott, who takes office Tuesday, said he wants to form a citizens advisory committee to give his administration feedback on issues. He said he would likely send letters to prospective members next month.

He said he also wants to start another type of City Council meeting – formally known as a committee of the whole – in which members would take no action but have an "open discussion" of issues.

As it is, Wescott said, City Council members fully discuss issues in meetings of various committees, which few residents attend. Then, he said, residents are surprised when those issues come before the full council, which takes a "rapid vote" without discussion.

"There should be more explanation," he said.

On April 9, Wescott beat Mayor David Blanton with 75 percent of the vote. Wescott, the city clerk for the last decade, is being succeeded as clerk by Eric Arduini, who beat two opponents in the election.

For the past few weeks, he has been training Arduini. He said he appreciated that Arduini has devoted time to learn the clerk's job.

If Arduini has questions after he is sworn in, Wescott said, all he has to do is walk down the hall to the mayor's office.

Wescott said he and Blanton have also met since the election.

"Dave and I sat down and talked. He was very gracious," Wescott said. "He brought me up to speed on things that he had knowledge of and I didn't. I appreciated it."

'Welcome to Sterling' signs irritate some

ROCK FALLS – How friendly is Sterling? The city welcomes people even when they're leaving.

Since last year, Sterling-bound motorists see "Welcome to Sterling" banners on the First Avenue bridge. And those who are headed south into Rock Falls are greeted with the same message.

It's Sterling's bridge, so the city put up the banners on lampposts after the state completed a bridge reconstruction project last fall. The city paid for the entire cost of the bridge's decorative railing and lights.

But the lamppost banners didn't sit well with Rock Falls residents, Mayor-elect Bill Wescott said.

When he campaigned this year, he said, he met many residents who were angry that Rock Falls didn't get a chance to welcome people on the banners.

Wescott said Sterling had no intention to offend Rock Falls residents, but he said it's "a little silly" welcoming residents to Sterling both ways.

He said he had asked Sterling Mayor Skip Lee for an estimate of the cost to put up new banners. Rock Falls could pay for half, Wescott said.

Lee said Sterling is open to the possibility of sharing costs for the banners, so each town is recognized.

"The bridge is a celebration of both of our communities," he said.

Over the years, the cities have increased coooperation. For instance, Sterling's interim fire chief, Gary Cook, is also the deputy chief in Rock Falls.

Last month, Wescott beat Mayor David Blanton with 75 percent of the vote. Wescott, the city clerk for the last decade, will be sworn in Tuesday as mayor.

Wescott said he wanted to find more areas of cooperation with Sterling, including the sharing of resources in their police and public works departments.

"Sterling is our sister city," he said. "I don't think either city wants to take over the identity of the other city. We're both proud of our communities."

Both Blanton and Lee have noted that they met regularly, both dismissing criticism that the towns haven't worked together closely enough.

Meeting set for Tuesday

The Rock Falls City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. The meeting will air live on Channel 5.

Bill Wescott will be sworn in as mayor and Eric Arduini as clerk.

Go to www.rockfalls61071.com for an agenda for this meeting and minutes from past meetings. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

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