whiteside county

What Consolidation Means For Rural School Districts

Jun 6, 2016
Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

One of the quirks of Illinois public education is the fact that public elementary, middle, and high schools in a single city or county may be their own independent school district.

While some tout the advantages of greater local control, others argue this governing structure is inefficient. In the first of a two-part series, we examine the ways these separate entities may consolidate, starting with rural schools.

As the deadline for a state budget draws near, public school systems are watching closely.  

School administrators are concerned about changes to the state funding formula, which determines how money is distributed among the state’s many districts.  In the legislature, the debate has been over how money could be shifted to provide more equal levels of funding.  However, two superintendents in Northern Illinois think there’s more to the issue.  Retired Riverdale Elementary School Superintendent Sarah Willy says it’s impossible to evaluate the formula without full funding. 

Whiteside Has "General Aviation Airport Of The Year"

May 12, 2016
State of Illinois

Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn congratulated the winners of IDOT's "Airports of the Year."  

Whiteside County Airport in Sterling and Rock Falls was awarded “General Aviation Airport of the Year," based on its safety records, maintenance, and coordination with IDOT on management and promoting aviation events.  

O’Hare airport was named “Primary Airport of the Year."

Illinois has one of the largest aviation systems in the country, with more than 830 landing facilities in the state.

An early morning house fire has killed five members of a family in northern Illinois.

Whiteside County Coroner Joe McDonald says firefighters responding to a blaze in Rock Falls found a husband and wife and three of their children dead around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

He identified the victims as Patrick and Mary Hopkins and their children, 24-year-old Maggie, 16-year-old Donovan and 13-year-old Katie Jo. The couple had two other children in their 20s.

Peat Mining Under Scrutiny In Northern Illinois

Aug 23, 2013
Mike Moen/WNIJ

A northern Illinois county known for its rich farmland faces questions about how some of that land is being used. Peat mining is a key industry in Whiteside County. Supporters say it provides jobs, and creates opportunities for more open water habitats. But some residents wonder if the payoff is worth it.

Whiteside County's new State’s Attorney is defending a meeting of the County Board’s Democratic majority.  The meeting is being investigated by the Illinois attorney general following a complaint it violated the Open Meetings Act. The DeKalb State's Attorney has followed suit in a similar situation.

Meetings Under Review in Whiteside and DeKalb Counties

In Whiteside County, Sauk Valley Media is waiting to hear from the Illinois Attorney General’s office.  At issue--whether members of the county board violated the Open Meetings Act.  Late last month, members of the board allegedly threatened to call police when a reporter tried to cover a discussion over the selection of a new board chairman.  Members contend it was a caucus gathering, not a public meeting.

A delay will be requested for the upcoming murder trial of convicted killer Nicholas T. Sheley of Sterling.

Defense attorney Jeremy Karlin, of Galesburg, will ask Rock Island Circuit Judge F. Michael Meersman, at a hearing Friday for the fourth delay in Sheley’s first Whiteside County murder trial.

The case, scheduled to go to trial Sept. 10, also would be the first test of active news media presence in a Whiteside County court under the cameras-in-the-courtroom initiative of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Whiteside County portion of a proposed wind farm near Deer Grove won approval Tuesday from the county board, while the Ogle County Board okayed a special-use permit for a wind farm near Baileyville.

Subject to conditions, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power can build seven turbines in far southeastern Whiteside County. The board also approved two others, but officials said those need to get the nod from the Deer Grove village board.