8819Board

Tuesday’s LaSalle County Board monthly meeting covered a lot of ground, including interesting personnel issues.

Board Chairman Jim Olson introduced a resolution creating the position of County Finance Director. The job, he says, is meant to ensure a smooth grant-application process, and to keep a tight rein on county budgets. But those aren’t the only reasons he came up with the job. Turns out several board members have come to him, asking that the auditor position be eliminated. That’s a question for the voters, and if at least half the board members come to Olson with the request, it likely would make either the primary or general-election ballot next year. After the meeting, Tom Henson asked Olson about the scope of the effort to put the issue on the ballot.

Of course, current auditor Jody Wilkinson recently was found not guilty on all 11 charges State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly brought against her last year, and Wilkinson’s deputy auditors’ cases are still playing out. 

Speaking of Donnelly, the board voted her a salary increase to nearly $174,000. And Public Defender Tim Cappellini got a raise, too. He’ll make more than $156,000. The board had little to say on the matter of raises -- the General Assembly mandates them, and the state reimburses the county most of the money.

But the meeting wasn’t just about personnel issues and salary increases. There was a softer side to the session, too.

Lori Brown spoke to the board. She founded Buddy’s Purpose, an organization for those who’ve lost love ones to drug addiction. Buddy’s Purpose looks to eliminate the stigma of overdose. Board member Randy Freeman, who said he’s had family members with opioid addiction, commended the organization for its work to open lines of communication.

Buddy’s Purpose is organizing a walk during Overdose Awareness Week, August 25th through the 31st. Contact Lori Brown for more information at 815-993-8314. You can also find out more at buddyspurpose.org.

The county board also bid a fond farewell to County Highway Engineer Larry Kinzer, who’s retiring after 31 years of service. As more than 30 of his employees looked on, Kinzer said goodbye, and, as he received a warm standing ovation, Kinzer took his baby granddaughter into his arms and stepped aside for his successor, Donald Ernat, who begins a six-year term in the office.

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