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New joint fire department position now in writing

Council puts deputy chief in municipal code

STERLING – When an intergovernmental agreement created the Twin City Joint Fire Command, it called for the appointment of deputy chiefs in Sterling and Rock Falls. On Monday, the Sterling Council passed an ordinance to put the position in its municipal code.

When the fire departments officially merged their administrative functions last September, Chief Gary Cook said the creation of the two deputy chief positions were the biggest changes the consolidation would bring to daily operations.

Mike Dettman of Sterling and Bill Millby of Rock Falls, had been captains of their respective departments before being named deputy chiefs. Dettman and Milby are responsible for coordinating responses to emergency situations, leading the inspections process, and heading up educational programs and fire prevention efforts.

“This just reduces the number of captains from four to three and establishes the deputy fire chief in the code,” City Manager Scott Shumard said.

The council also approved an ordinance to amend the city’s liquor code. A local businessman recently brought it to the city’s attention that the current wording did not allow for draft beer sales under B-3 licensing, which is for specialty beverage stores. The code was changed to specifically allow for draft beer sales.

“Some of the beverage stores want to go to craft beers,” Mayor Skip Lee said.

The other liquor code change was regarding B-2 licensing for restaurants. The B-2 licensing is an extension of B-1 licensing that permits Sunday liquor sales. The code was changed from “wine and fermented spirits” to “wine and wine coolers” to eliminate the inconsistency.

In other action, four appointments were made to boards and commissions. Alderman John Stauter will serve as the council representative on the Stormwater and Erosion Control Appeals Board through June 30, 2015.

Stauter also will represent the council on the Industrial Development Commission through June 30, 2016. Others appointed to that commission were Rich McNinch, as a business community representative, and Jerry Binder, as an educational institution member. McNinch is a partner at Air Play Sports & Espresso; Binder is the Sterling school district’s director of human resources and student services. McNinch’s term will expire on June 6, 2017, and Binder’s on June 30, 2018.

A fire engine that was totaled in an accident on Dec. 20, will be replaced. The council approved a waiver of the bid process for replacing the vehicle. The fire department’s offer of $170,000 for a 2002 Pierce engine from the Byron Fire Protection District has been accepted.

Lee asked Dettman if he was concerned that the Pierce vehicle is 3 years older than the engine it would be replacing.

“This one is older, but it only has 18,000 miles, and ours had 36,000 to 40,000,” Dettman said. “Byron takes exceptional care of their equipment.”

Dettman said a new vehicle would have cost close to $500,000, and the fire department wouldn’t have been able to get it for 6 to 8 months. The totaled vehicle had recently been set up as an extrication truck, but they should be able to transfer the new equipment, Dettman said.

Next meeting

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., on the first floor in the Council Chambers.

Go to or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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