Reflecting on a busy month for the city

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The past month has been very busy with many things happening within the city.

With COVID-19 hopefully slowing down, it has been great to see the events held outdoors over the past month and seeing our community pull together once again. With families being able to participate in these events, that is a great moral booster for us all. Though we still must be safe and careful, we can truly see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The city is currently working diligently to get departments moved into the former Johnson Tractor building. This facility creates great synergies for the city as it relates to multiple departments that typically work together being together in one location.

There are also many plans in the works for this fall and winter relative to the Christmas walk downtown and many other events. It is hard to believe that we are already talking about Christmas. I ask myself every day, ‘Where did our summer go?’

The city council recently authorized the continuation of the school resource officer program at our elementary school district. This program has proven to be an integral part of connecting the youth of our community with our law enforcement officers. I continuously hear how comforting it is to see officers interacting with students daily, building relationships and trust. Not to mention the safety aspects. 

As many may know, legislation has been approved as it relates to the Prairie State Energy Campus, which the City of Rochelle, through NIMPA, is a part owner. The final legislation directs all emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by 2038.  By 2045 (which seems like a lifetime from now), emissions must be reduced 100 percent.

It has been stated publicly that Illinois has an ambitious goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2040 and 100 percent renewable by 2050. I am very proud to say we here in Rochelle have approximately 6 percent renewable energy today, which is higher than the state averages including ComEd and Ameren IP.

Our goal is to continue to grow our renewables, remembering that we must also be able to financially support the distribution infrastructure. We are very pro-renewables; however, we must make methodical decisions to work towards that. You can’t just flip a switch and make a change instantly, without having a plan for a guaranteed base load of power.

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout out and thank you to all that worked diligently to make the outcome for the city the best it could be. Our staff, city attorney and our state representatives and senators, including Tom Demmer, Brian Stewart, Michael Hastings and Bill Cunningham, who chairs the house energy committee.

Finally, the Hickory Grove facility will hopefully be razed by spring, making way for a new structure promoting our community as the “Gateway” to the “Community of Opportunity”.

Now that the leaves have begun changing, enjoy the fall colors, appreciate all that we have, and each other, and stay safe. Until the next column, once again I say thank you for allowing me to represent this fantastic community of Rochelle with an amazing team beside me and a very supportive city council.

John Bearrows is the mayor of Rochelle.