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Interest high in open aldermanic seat in Rock Falls

Mayor narrows field to four, must decide by Sept. 10

ROCK FALLS – Mayor Bill Wescott has until Sept. 10 to fill a First Ward aldermanic vacancy, and much to his surprise, he’ll need most of that time to come to a decision.

Eight residents have stepped forward to fill the seat that opened when 10-year alderman Mark Vandersnick moved just outside his ward.

Wescott said he has been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest the opening has generated.

“It’s amazing to me how many people have come forward,” he said. “In the past, we had to go out and ask people to do it.”

The candidates were asked to fill out questionnaires, and the mayor then reduced the field to four. Wescott hopes to schedule meetings with the finalists this week, and be ready to make his recommendation at the Sept. 2 council meeting.

“We’re happy with our options,” Westcott said. “All four are quality people.”

Vandersnick had been active on several committees, leaving voids on the Ordinance, Personnel and Licensing Committee, Planning and Zoning Commission, Building Code Committee, and the Police and Fire Commission.

Vandersnick was one of four incumbent city aldermen to run unopposed in the April 2013 election. In Rock Falls, eight council members, two from each of the four wards, serve staggered 4-year terms. 

The term of Daehle Reitzel, the other First Ward alderman, will also be up next April.

In other matters, the city’s purchasing policy manual will be amended to increase the purchasing level of electric department head Dick Simon.

The maximum authorized purchasing level for department heads is $5,000. Simon will now be upped to $25,000, but just for supplies and equipment, excluding lease purchases. The request was initiated by the electric department and taken to the Finance Committee.

“The day-to-day expenses are much higher in that department,” City Administrator Robbin Blackert said. “Purchases there are taking much longer than they should.”

The city administrator’s level had been capped at $10,000 for all departments, but will be increased to $25,000 just for the electric department’s daily operations.

“All of the checks and balances are still in place,” Wescott said. “This is just for electric’s daily operations.”

Also, a representative from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources met with Blackert on Tuesday regarding site reviews for the OSLAD grant. The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program, administered by IDNR, provides grants for acquisition and development of land for public parks and green space.

Blackert said the city should know if it made the first cut for the grant by the end of September or early October.

Next meeting

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The City Council meeting also can be viewed live on Channel 5.

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