Watchful Inmates

By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – Neighbors of the new Boone County Jail don’t like the idea that inmates might be looking at them, through some of the 99 windows at the facility.

That concern has been expressed to jail officials and prompted discussion, during the July 6 meeting of the public safety committee.

Some individuals even expressed their concerns that inmates were writing down license plate numbers and from that, they found people’s phone numbers and started to call and harass the people.

Among the possible solutions was creating an earthen berm. But that was quickly discounted in favor of putting a thin film over many of the windows, which would still allow sunlight into the cells.

“I asked about that during jail construction in ’01,” said Lt. John Hare, jail commander. “I’m not sure why it wasn’t done.”

Cost would be $5,200 for 67 windows and he was quick to add that there wasn’t any money in the current corrections budget to have that done. “We’re told it (film) would last 8-10 years, with normal use,” he said.

Committee member Sherry Branson thought film was “a great idea.” But she didn’t know where the money would come from.

Committee Chairman Karl Johnson observed this had been an issue for about 20 years.

“If there is a sense of urgency we will put it on the (county board) agenda and see if the money can be found,” County Administrator Ken Terrinoni said.

But Johnson, who also is chairman of the county finance, taxation and salaries committee, said he was concerned “there will be a problem if we continue approving new funding. That could lead to a snowball effect.”

His thought was to approve the $5,200 expenditure and say it has to be in the 2015-16 budget, which has yet to be crafted or acted upon. That budget will go into effect Dec. 1.

If ultimately approved, the windows getting film will be those looking down on the jail parking lot. It was anticipated that 67-70 of the total 99 windows would receive a coating of film.

Local county projects receive two ‘no’ votes

BELVIDERE – Boone County often approves funding to help townships pay for their road and bridge improvements.

A couple such issues came up during the July roads and capital improvements committee meeting, with usual unanimous votes of approval among the missing.

The first matter dealt with awarding a contract for seal coating roads in Bonus Township. The following two bids were submitted: Steffens 3-D Construction, Toluca, $55,903.84, and Civil Constructors, Freeport, $74,998.80.

The engineering cost estimate was $62,156.80.

There was no discussion among the five members of this standing committee of the county board.

When it came time for a vote, committee member Kenny Freeman said he would be voting no because the low bidder was “a non-union contractor from central Illinois.”

Committee Chairman Brad Stark said he would be “voting for the people’s pocket books.”

Ultimately, the committee voted 4-1 to recommend approval of issuing the contract to Steffens.

There was another divided vote, this one on a recommendation for spending $4,403.75 out of the county’s bridge fund. The village of Timberlane plans to replace the northeast wing and stabilize the southeast wing of a box culvert, located on Dawson Lake Road, which carries an unnamed creek from Candlewick Lake. Total cost of the project is $8,807.50.

The request was recommended for approval in a 4-1 vote, with Chairman Stark dissenting. He said afterward that he did so because he didn’t believe the village had sought bids for the project.

In another follow-up interview, county Engineer Rich Lundin said providing such help for villages is one reason the bridge fund exists. It is funded by property tax, which generates about $250,000 a year. Villages with fewer than 15,000 residents are eligible to receive this assistance.


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