Reflecting on my first two years as mayor

Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows
Posted 6/4/21

My mayoral term is now two years into a four-year term. That is hard to believe, as I think about where the time went.

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Reflecting on my first two years as mayor


My mayoral term is now two years into a four-year term. That is hard to believe, as I think about where the time went.

When I became mayor in May 2019, the new adventure I was about to undertake would contain many issues that would begin to unfold on that very first day. From day one I was greeted with great assistance and support from everyone at City Hall, and they helped me get my feet firmly on the ground.

In Feb. 2020, the path our country (and city) was taking relative to the pandemic presented many more issues that we as a city would be required to address. At the end of Feb. 2020, I do not think anyone could have been prepared for what was about to unfold.

I would thank our City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh for his leadership and our incredibly-supportive City Council. None of these projects that you’ve seen implemented could have happen without council’s support.

From day one, “Team Rochelle” worked together to insure the health and safety of not only our city staff and employees, but our community. Once that was underway (which was no small task that took many weeks) the next step was to assist and try to maintain the solvency of our small businesses when many were forced to shut down or cut back to curbside-only for restaurants.

This was a result of our Governor classifying them as "non-essential.” In our eyes, there are no non-essential businesses. As a team we developed three rounds of local stimulus that would prove to save most all of our small businesses.

That process lasted until the Governor opened things up prior to us being at the end of the third round. I am incredibly happy to report that not only were we able to maintain our small businesses, but we in fact have also had several new ones open.

We had several projects underway at the start of the pandemic, and the city was able to keep all employees working though it all. Many staff worked from home via e-mail, cell phones and Zoom meetings and never missed a beat.

We all tried to do our best to keep each other positive, which I will admit was taxing at times. Having been born and raised in Rochelle, I am deeply passionate about the city, and extremely proud of what it can do when we all work together.

I made a promise in March 2020 that if you trust us, work together and keep strong faith, we will get through this. And get through it we have.

As I now turn to the future, there are many great things going on in Rochelle today. We are currently diligently working to re-open the daycare center that closed at the beginning of the pandemic. I give you my word, we will not stop trying until we get it open.

There is another company known as Project Jackpot that I hope will be making a final announcement soon, that will bring approximately 150 jobs with great starting salaries and benefits. This will be a huge positive impact on Rochelle.

We just broke ground on a new substation, which will allow the improved delivery of power to not only existing companies but allow for expansion of future businesses.

Until the next column, stay safe, enjoy summer and being able to reunite with family after that has been limited over the past 14 months.

In closing, I want to say thank you for affording me the opportunity to serve as your mayor.