Local leaders working together on phased plan to re-open


LEE and OGLE COUNTY — Lee and Ogle County leaders are working together with State Representative Tom Demmer on a phased plan to re-open the two-county region following Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker's latest stay-at-home order.

This plan will be submitted to the governor’s office later this week for consideration and possible approval. Implementing a regional, phased approach to reduce restrictions from the order is essential to the health and safety of the communities and the health of small business and local commerce. This plan was near completion when the governor announced his Restore Illinois plan Tuesday afternoon.

The plans have several similarities; however, this two-county regional plan would have provisions to open businesses deemed “non-essential” with strict limitations on safety measures and occupancy.

"I truly hope the plan crafted by leaders in our region will be considered by the governor when it is presented,” said Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows. “This plan is intended to begin the re-opening of our small businesses. The plan first considers the safety of our community, while allowing small businesses to get back to some sort of normalcy sooner rather than later."

“It is the mission of this unified, bi-county team to help the State of Illinois move into a small business recovery phase with these strategic policies,” said Dixon City Councilman Mike Venier.

The plan will address personal protective equipment availability, hospital capacity, testing capability and support for at-risk individuals. Much like the Restore Illinois plan, if at any point in the phased re-opening an uptick in cases of COVID-19 is identified, the plan addresses criteria that would require return to an earlier phase for the safety of all residents and businesses. 

“Our community has made many sacrifices during this pandemic response, and we don’t want those sacrifices to have been made in vain,” said Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss. “We’re working together to ensure the health of our community, our people, and our businesses.”

“This phased process brings us hope of returning to a new normal in the coming weeks and months,” said Rochelle City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh. “I’m confident that our community will come together to make the plan a reality.”

In addition to the Lee and Ogle County re-opening plan, the team is leading the charge to open unemployment benefits for its local independent contractors and sole proprietor businesses. 

Joining Representative Demmer on the two-county executive leadership team are representatives from Lee and Ogle County health departments, KSB Hospital, Rochelle Community Hospital, City of Dixon, City of Rochelle, City of Oregon, first responders, State’s Attorneys, chambers of commerce, Sauk Valley Community College, Kishwaukee College and school districts. 

If successful in receiving approval from the governor’s office, this team will expand to include additional local leaders throughout Lee and Ogle County.

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