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Dateline Dixon: In addition to bike program, Dixon might get national designation

Monday’s newspaper included an article I wrote about Mayor Jim Burke exploring the idea of a bicycle-sharing program in Dixon.

It’s a way, he said, to make the city more bike-friendly for residents and tourists.

In addition to the bike-sharing, Burke and the city will look into getting a national distinction for being bike-friendly, which is given by the League of American Bicyclists.

According to the organization, Illinois is No. 9 in the country for being bike-friendly.

Among the criteria the organization uses to designate a city as bike friendly are safe and convenient places to ride; fostering bike education; creating strong bike culture; ensuring safe roads for bikers; and making bicycles a viable transportation option.

Ed Barsotti, the executive director of League of Illinois Bicyclists, said the city, even without a bike-sharing program, is “on the right track” for the nation designation.

Lost on the cutting room floor

– An envelope arrived Dec. 23 in the mail at Dixon’s City Hall. And in it was a check for $9.2 million, restitution to the city from the sale of property and assets of former Comptroller Rita Crundwell.

I spoke with Burke about the check that day, just as I had done the Friday before, after I found out the check was on its way.

The check arrived at City Hall just days before Christmas, and that timing wasn’t lost on Burke.

“We thought it’d be a nice Christmas present for the people,” he said.

That quote didn’t make it into the story, but I thought I’d give it a life here.

– In the Dec. 28 weekend edition of the paper, I wrote a story about changes to credit card statements in the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department. I spoke with Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock about the bills.

Rock declined to give much information, citing his role as attorney for the Sheriff’s Department and County Board, but he did say something early in our conversation that didn’t make it to print.

“I don’t know if the records were altered,” he said.

Attorneys are careful with their words, especially when speaking with a reporter on the record.

I know Rock had spoken with the County Clerk Rebecca Huntley about her concerns that bills were being altered; he confirmed as much to me. And I saw for myself three instances of alterations when I went to the clerk’s office a few weeks ago.

For one reason or another, I couldn’t find a way to include Rock’s quote in the article so that it accurately represented what he said. However, I think it’s an important quote.

There’s no reason to believe Rock was covering or trying to hide anything. But I feel what he said reinforced his role as the attorney for the Sheriff’s Department. There’s nothing wrong about that. That’s why, if there was an investigation needed, it would go to an outside agency.

Office is closed: This year, Christmas and New Year’s Day happen to be on a Wednesday, the day I hold my “office hours” at Books on First. So, I’ll make my return to the book store from 1 to 2 p.m. on Jan. 8, a week from tomorrow.

Stop by and say hi, or let me know what I should be covering in Dixon.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-284-2224, ext. 229. Follow him on twitter: @MattMencarini.

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