By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – A six-county partnership aimed at taking a regional approach to economic development, shared technological services, and legislative advocacy is being formed.

Boone County is proposing to join the group, which already has met informally and includes Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties.

Boone’s administrative and legislative committee approved a resolution of support at its April 4 meeting. The resolution “authorizes and encourages” Boone County Board chairman Bob Walberg, to meet with the chairmen of those counties.

He said the group has agreed to meet quarterly, on the fourth Wednesday of the month, with the next one being July 27. Prospective members agreed Boone County would be the most central location for those meetings, presumably in the county building at 1212 Logan Ave.

The resolution, which will go before the full county board at its April 20 meeting, listed some points as to why banding together is important, which includes:

Economic development is important to the vitality and health of every county and every community, to increase commercial and retail business and with the increased business, more and better jobs for residents.

It is recognized in the global economy of the 21st century that efforts for economic development are better leveraged when working across legislative borders, in a regional approach that comes to the benefit of a larger economy for an entire region.

The six counties have unanimously agreed to explore the creation of such a partnership, the resolution states, to provide the aforementioned benefits.

As Boone County continues to experience funding difficulties, the resolution also states that such an organization “will be developed without cost to Boone County,” and in the future any related documents will be presented to the county board for consideration.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Chairman Walberg said. “I’m very much in support of networking.”

County planner; buses

The administrative and legislative committee, chaired by county board member Sherry Giesecke, also discussed the upcoming search for a planner. County Administrator Ken Terrinoni will look for someone to fill the upcoming vacancy, for which a detailed job description has been prepared. The description does not include a salary range.

He already has some options, having received interest from Fehr-Graham consultants in Rockford, and DeKalb County, along with a proposal from Gloria Simo, Ph.D, executive director and principal consultant for Simo and Associates in Rockford.

Fehr-Graham did not provide an hourly rate; DeKalb County quoted a flat $70 an hour; and Simo said she saw the job taking 20 hours a week, with her charge being $40 an hour. Associates with her firm, she said, have a combined 50 hours of experience in planning

Committee Chairperson Giesecke thought hiring a part-time consultant was the way to go.

“We don’t know that we need a full-time planner,” she said. “Using a consultant will give us an idea of the magnitude of the job.”

In addition, the committee recommended approval of applying for a state grant with which to buy two new buses for the on-demand service provided by the Boone County Council on Aging.

The council has a fleet of 10 buses, all owned by the county, with two of them up for retirement.

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