Around Illinois – May 24

May 24, 2012
  • Dixon will delay its own Crundwell probe
  • Sand pit meeting reviews issues and obstacles
  • Roadwork affects Illinois 2 in Ogle County

Dixon will wait on local Crundwell investigation

The City of Dixon will hold off on investigating the former comptroller accused of stealing more than $53 million in public money.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said the city will wait for the FBI to finish its investigation of Rita Crundwell, who has pleaded not guilty to a single count of wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors say she used money embezzled from Dixon to pay for one of the nation's leading horse-breeding operations and maintain a lavish personal lifestyle that included millions of dollars in cars and jewelry.

Burke says an investigation would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, on top of the millions Crundwell is accused of stealing.

Concerns abound over Ottawa sand pit

Billed as an "availability session” about the proposed Mississippi Sand LLC operation near Ottawa, the gathering Wednesday evening at Illinois Valley Community College raised a lot of issues.

Several state agencies regulating environment, tourism and historical preservation were on hand, along with representatives from the mining company to answer questions and explain their points of view.

Mississippi Sand has a permit from the LaSalle County Board to operate a sand pit on 80 acres of land near Starved Rock State Park. They plan to extract and ship sand to be used in the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” industry.

Two opposing views were reported by

Katie Troccoli, an Ottawa real estate agent, claims the national and state economic downturn influenced the county board into making a rash decision which was “not in the best interest” of its citizens. “I'm in a union family, but this mine is in the wrong location," she said.

County Board member Tom Walsh, D-Ottawa, who voted against the mine, said, "I'm concerned about the possible effects on our tourism industry. For me, my 'nay' vote was a point of principle."
"It's about job and the economy,” said Tim Waldron of Utica, standing with union friends from Operating Engineers 150. “Unimin Corporation (a sand mining concern in Utica) is successful and hasn't caused any problems. People should realize that sand is the next gold rush."

The LaSalle News Tribune detailed many of the remaining hurdles and introduced another concern.

Joseph Standing Bear Schranz, a half-blood Ojibwa, came to ask about preservation of Indian artifacts. “Up and down the river our people had massive villages,” he said. He doesn’t want artifacts and burial mounds transplanted to faraway museums.

Written comments are being accepted until May 31 by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by mail or e-mail.

Roadwork to begin through Castle Rock State Park

Resurfacing work on 1.4 miles of Illinois 2 through Castle Rock State Park will begin following the Memorial Day holiday, weather permitting, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Traffic along the route four miles south of Oregon will face lane restrictions during the project. The maximum width in the construction zone will be 10 feet. Delays could be possible in the construction area.

The project is scheduled to be completed in early June, with an estimated cost of $267,928.

Also on Illinois 2, the bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad at the south edge of Oregon is under construction and down to one lane.