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Lee County official clarifies landfill agent's role

Firm says consultant's assertions 'unfounded'

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 12:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 1:26 p.m. CDT

DIXON – A Lee County Board member this morning sought to clarify the role of a landfill consultant with the county. 

That was in response to consultant Marv Van Weelden's public assertion to Sauk Valley Media that the county's agreement with the owner of the Lee County Landfill was "shady."

He also said the county, in 2008, passed up an offer for a second landfill that would have resulted in millions of dollars in tipping fees. 

Van Weelden has been designated the county's agent for "preliminary arrangements and negotiations" for a second landfill. He received that power in 2011 from then-Chairman Jim Seeberg, R-Ashton, and then from Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy, when he became chairman the next year. 

Van Weelden is not paid by the county. Rather, he would be compensated by the winning landfill company. 

In a statement at the board's monthly meeting today, member Tom Kitson, R-Dixon, said Van Weelden was not a county employee and that a committee of board members would negotiate a landfill contract.

Outside the meeting, he said that some have interpreted Van Weelden's role as being in charge of negotiating with the current landfill's owner, Phoenix-based Republic Services.

Kitson said he was "fine" with what Van Weelden does, but not sure he likes how Van Weelden's role is defined.

By Van Weelden's account, a board committee held a meeting in July 2008 in which it didn't invite some of its members. That is where the panel negotiated with Republic to keep out any other landfills for 24 years, he said.

Ketchum has said he and others thought that the provision would last only 5 years, like the part of the contract that guarantees the county $1.8 million a year, no matter the amount of waste brought in. Others said they thought the same thing.

A Republic spokesman said Van Weelden's statements were "unfounded," but declined to comment further.

In other business:

Also at today's Lee County Board meeting:

• Board member Ann Taylor, R-Amboy, was among five members missing from the County Board meeting. The others were Vern Gottel, R-rural Sterling; Steve Kitzman, R-Dixon; Arlan McClain, R-Dixon; and Allyn Buhrow, R-Ashton. 

Taylor has been at an Amboy nursing home, said board Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy.

"She's in rehabilitation," he said. "She has a long way to go. Hopefully, she'll come back here. Only time will tell."

• The county highway department's overtime line item is 48 percent over budget and the repairs and maintenance and highway maintenance line items are 42 percent over, according to county meeting minutes.

Depending on how the rest of the year goes, the minutes say, another appropriation might be needed.

• The Lee County Jail had an issue with cell doors not locking properly, according to committee meeting minutes. The maintenance crew repaired them.

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