By Bob Balgemann


As 2020 draws to a close, city staff is providing updates on happenings within their departments at Committee of the Whole meetings.

Aldermen learned Dec. 14 that not everything in the city has been shut down, reopened, then shut down again as a result of state-mandated restrictions attached to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

They also were told the police department wanted to order 43 body-worn cameras for its officers. 

Life within the city, away from the business district, has been surprisingly active, according to a report from Building Director Kip Countryman.

In his update on the city’s building department, he told the committee that during the past month 73 permits were issued for just under $1 million in value, which meant nearly $15,000 in revenue for Belvidere. In addition, there were 25 commercial projects in progress, notable among them the YMCA, General Mills, Brechon Dental, and Anderson Funeral Home. Also, the Fire Box restaurant had a new roof.

On the code enforcement side, he said action on 24 property maintenance issues was pending.   

A couple of questions came from within the committee.

Alderman Dan Snow reminded the director of complaints from city council about all the signage that would pop up around town over the weekend, about businesses closing here and, in particular, in Rockford.

“Do you guys go in on Mondays and pull all those?” he asked. “And what can we do in the future to curtail all that?”

Countryman replied, “As I drove the town today (Dec. 14) I wasn’t aware of any signs still being up. If they are there past Monday we do pick them up.”

“In the future,” Snow continued, “is there anything we can do to remove them (signs) when they pop up? Usually Saturday mornings there’s a slew of them out.”

Countryman replied, “If you want to pay staff to work weekends, we can do that.”

There was no response to that idea, with Snow just saying, “Thank you.”

Alderman Wendy Frank asked if building activity was a lot lower than last year, due to the COVID-19, or was it pretty good?

“Actually, we’re having a really good year, surprisingly,” the director answered. “We’re doing a lot of windows and roofs, and fences. Commercial just keeps chugging along. Industrial is ongoing with maintenance of buildings. As (planner) Gina (DelRose) will attest, there are a lot of calls about properties in the area. Real estate is just poppin’ right now; there is a lot of turnover. There are quite a few additions going on.”

Project updates

Public Works Director Brent Anderson provided an update on this department, starting with completion of the Belvidere High School-Bellwood drainage ponds project. All excavations have been completed and temporary seeding has been put down at both locations. Final seeding and restoration work will be completed in the spring, as soon as weather permits.

Finishing this major drainage improvement means “we’ll be able to store the water as soon as the rains come,” he said.

Two staples on the city’s list of public services, the fall branch collection and leaf collection, have been completed.

Another big project, improvements to the intersection of Poplar Grove and Lawrenceville roads, also is done following installation of stop signs to make it a four-way stop. Alderman Clayton Stevens wondered if that intersection ever would have traffic lights. Not now, the director replied, because it doesn’t meet criteria for that to happen. But that should take place in the future, as the amount of traffic increases.

He continued with his report, saying two improvements at the General Mills plant involving the city were completed that morning. They included installation of rip-rap (loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure) along the Kishwaukee River, which was tied to the bridge replacement, and installation of a new crosswalk near the complex.

Body cameras

One of the agenda items requiring action that night was purchase of 43 body worn cameras for police officers, at a cost of $109,247.

Three bids were received for the equipment; the lowest coming from CDS Office Technologies, founded in 1971 and headquartered in Springfield. Police Chief Shane Woody recommended the low bidder and the committee concurred in a 9-0 vote, with one absent. City council was expected to consider the recommendation at its Dec. 21 meeting.

“The Belvidere Police Dept. tested and evaluated a limited number of body worn cameras from CDS and Axis (Communications) for approximately a month, with positive reviews from officers regarding both vendors,” he said.

“Based on the attached information we received from vendors, including price and feedback from the officers during our testing and evaluation phase, the Belvidere Police Dept. would recommend the purchase from CDS Technologies … for hardware, implementation services, insurance, redaction software, and licensing for five years for 43 body worn cameras.”

He added: “CDS Technologies, besides being the least expensive, is compatible with our department’s current squad car cameras and provides the ability for the officer to activate both cameras, either through the squad car or by using the body worn camera.

“The body worn camera replaces the current mic pack that the officer has to wear for audio recording of the squad car video, and has redaction and software capabilities to assist with discovery or maintain video surveillance chain of custody.”

Chief Woody reminded aldermen that on Sept. 28 they approved a donation of $50,000 to the police department, which was intended to be used to assist in the purchase of body worn cameras, bringing the city’s cost for the cameras to $59,247.

The $59,247 will be divided between the police department’s auction account ($45,000) and drug operations account ($14,247). The donor of the $50,000 has asked to remain anonymous.   

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