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Local

Ogle County Board member: Hold off on bids for new sheriff’s building

Colson: Plans might conflict with city’s

OREGON – Plans for a new building for the Ogle County sheriff’s administration should be put on hold because they might be in conflict with the city of Oregon’s plans for a site, County Board member Ron Colson said.

Colson, during Tuesday’s meeting of the Ogle County Board, asked for a suspension of the bidding process on new headquarters for the Sheriff’s Department at 103 Jefferson St. in Oregon.

He filed a written request with County Board Chairman Kim Gouker, of Byron, asking that the delay be an item on the agenda for the February meeting. He wants the building project returned to the Long Range & Strategic Planning Committee for further study.

Gouker agreed to refer the request to the Executive Committee, which sets the board’s meeting agendas.

The board in December approved seeking bids for the new building, which would be on the same county-owned property as the current sheriff’s office.

Colson, of Mount Morris, asked for an analysis of the property’s market value because, he said, it is part of the city’s comprehensive plan for a riverfront district. The property, Colson said, is a key part of planned development to promote tourism in the city, which also would be a financial benefit to the county.

Gouker said Oregon Mayor Tom Stone has not objected to the building of a new sheriff’s administration building on the site.

Colson wants other sites to be considered.

He also asked that the Long Range & Strategic Planning Committee determine whether architectural changes should be made in the proposed plan to allow for future growth needs of the sheriff’s department, coroner, 911 director, and county Emergency Management Agency director, all of which would be housed in the new building.

Colson said there was a lack of transparency in the planning process.

Before the judicial center project was approved, he said, meetings were held in four places in the county to make residents aware of the plans and allow them to ask questions. There were no similar meetings for the sheriff’s building, Colson said.

Gouker, who led the committee in charge of planning the judicial center, said the process for new sheriff’s office has been equally transparent.

Colson disagreed.

“That [the judicial center] was an Ogle County transparent process,” he said. “This has been a Cook County covert operation.”

The judicial center, which cost about $15 million, was completed in 2005. The sheriff’s administration building would cost an estimated $4.1 million to build.

The money would come from the Long Range Planning Fund, as did funding for the judicial center and for the $7.5 million courthouse remodeling project completed in 2010. Revenue in that fund comes from the host fees paid by garbage collection firms to dump refuse in the landfills within the county. The fees amount to approximately $3 million per year.

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