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Nord comes with high praise, a question

Departed Cherry Valley post with little warning

DIXON – David Nord, who is poised to become Dixon's first city administrator, served a quarter century in the same position for the village of Cherry Valley. And he served for a time as the leader of a state association of city and county managers.

In early May, though, he left the village with little warning.

By the Rockford Register Star's account, Nord unexpectedly announced he was no longer working for the village.

According to the story, officials gave little explanation. A memo sent by Village President Jim Claeyssen to trustees and staff announced that Nord left to "pursue other interests," the Register Star reported.

In July, the newspaper reported that the village's offices were sparse, with the public works director having suddenly departed and the police chief having stepped down. (Officials say the chief retired.)

As for Nord, according to the Register Star, he left "unexplainably."

Last month, Dixon officials announced they planned to hire Nord, with the City Council expecting to vote on his appointment this month.

In a recent interview with Sauk Valley Media, Nord said he resigned from the village to seek a new challenge.

Two longtime officials in Cherry Valley, a Rockford suburb, said Nord was simply seeking new opportunities.

Nancy Belt, the village's former clerk who retired in 2012 after 31 years, praised Nord's service.

"He worked for the village for quite a long time. He got to know the job and was good at economic development," said Belt, who was elected to the board of trustees in April. "He had enough years of service. He wanted to pursue other things in life."

Sally Hollembeak, a village trustee for more than 20 years, agreed. 

"It's probably good for David," she said. "He did a good job for us. He outgrew the job. He worked himself out of it. That is positive."

She also called Nord "very detail-oriented," which she said would help Dixon in the wake of the Rita Crundwell scandal. 

"I think he is a good match for Dixon," she said. 

Cherry Valley, which is a little more than 3,000 people, is about an hour's drive from Dixon.

Cherry Valley has one huge advantage over Dixon: It has no property tax, which has been the case since the 1980s. That's because Cherry Valley is able to get much of its income from sales tax revenue generated by CherryVale Mall, Magic Waters Waterpark and other nearby retail development.

The economic development focus has been on business, rather than housing, Hollembeak said.

"There are places to build houses, but we're not really good about accepting subdivisions because they don't bring in tax money," she said. "We really try to get things that are revenue producing."

Another big difference between Cherry Valley and Dixon is that the Rockford suburb has an unusually large police force for its size, which officials say is needed because of the high number of shoppers coming into the village.

In 2012, Cherry Valley had 15 officers to 28 in Dixon, which is more than four times the size of Cherry Valley.

All in all, Belt said, the village has been well run over the years.

"The village knows how to manage its money," she said. "That's the key to running a good municipality. That's what happens when you have good department heads and a board of trustees that's working together."

About David Nord

David Nord was the village administrator in Cherry Valley for 25 years, from 1988 to 2013. He holds a master's degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University.

He also served as president of the Illinois City/County Management Association, a support and networking group of professional city administrators throughout the state. He served on the ethics committee for the organization for 7 years.

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