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   Ledger Sentinel - The local NEWS source in Oswego, Montgomery and Boulder Hill for more than half a century.
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Published each Thursday in Oswego, Illinois 60543
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2014: anticipating another busy year in local news : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
2014: anticipating another busy year in local news
Happy New Year! We are anticipating another busy year in local news at the Ledger-Sentinel. Here is our view of just a few of the issues currently confronting local and state government that we expect to be reporting more on in the year ahead:


A 'world class' school
district here a worthy goal

The school district board and administration have set a goal of making the school district a "world class" educational institution. Though we've heard some cynics scoff at the district becoming "world class" we believe improving the district's educational program is a goal worthy of working toward in the new year. Given the district's committed staff and outstanding facilities there is no reason why the district can't one day attain status as one of the best in Illinois-if not the nation.

Meanwhile, efforts by administrators and the school board to maintain a balanced budget will be severely challenged this year and in the years ahead as the State of Illinois continues to short-change the district on its state aid payments. The state constitution recommends that state government pay most of the cost of educating students in grades K-12. However, the state has never come close to making that recommendation a reality. Instead, property taxpayers continue to pick-up the biggest share of the cost for education. With state government swimming in a sea of red ink, school district officials locally and across the state should remain extremely wary of further cuts in state support for local schools.

Kendall County per
diem investigation pending

We're hopeful that the Kendall County State's Attorney's Office will complete and release to the public the results of their investigation into per diem payments to several former and current county board members between 2008 and 2012. The investigation began more than a year and one-half ago and has cost taxpayers more than $20,000 to date. We look forward to seeing the results of the investigation and to see any recommendations put forth to tighten the county's per diem payment procedures.

We also continue to believe it is past time to eliminate taxpayer provided health insurance and mileage reimbursements board members can now receive. Serving on the county board is not a full-time job; there is no reason why board members should be eligible for the same benefits as the county's full-time employees. The board should eliminate these perks this year.

Montgomery, Oswego need
more funds for infrastructure

Both the Villages of Oswego and Montgomery are facing the same issue: how to pay for the maintenance of streets and other infrastructure in the years ahead. Over the past two decades, Oswego has grown from a community of less than 4,000 people to one with more than 33,000. Montgomery, meanwhile, grew in those same years from a community of less than 5,000 people to one with more than 17,000. All of those newer residents live on streets that will need to be resurfaced over the next several years. Both villages have historically relied on state reimbursed Motor Fuel Tax Revenues (MFT) to pay for their annual street resurfacing projgrams. But the amount of MFT revenue the villages receive each year from the state will not come close to covering the cost to resurface the miles and miles of aging streets in the two villages.

Officials in the two villages need to identify and approve a funding source for stepped-up street re-surfacing programs this year.

Also this year in Oswego, we'd like to see the village board decide on what they would like to see happen with two properties in the downtown: the former village hall on Main Street and the old Alexander Lumber yard at Washington and Adams streets. We don't expect either property will be re-developed any time soon, but it would benefit the village to have what planners like to call a "vision" for the properties in place if and when some private developers finally come forward.

A pressing project in Montgomery is the need for an emergency weather siren on the village's far west side. As we reported this past year, several residents told the village board they could not hear a siren moments prior to a storm last June. Board members need to include funds for a siren in the village's next fiscal year budget and then have it installed as quickly as possible.

Road work ahead: expect
traffic delays on Rts. 71, 30

The new year will be another busy year for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) as contractors for the agencies complete multi-million dollar highway reconstruction and widening projects in both Montgomery and Oswego.

In Montgomery, contractors will resume work early in the new year on rebuilding U.S. Route 30 between Goodwin Drive and Briarlicff Road, and the reconstruction of the Route 30 and Ill. Route 31 interchange.

In Oswego, motorists will want to stay away from Route 71 between Route 34 and the Orchard/Minkler Road intersection as contractors begin work widening the highway to five lanes.

Local voters need to
show at the polls March 18

Believe it or not, another election is right around the corner as the party primary election is set for March 18. Voters will be asked to cast ballots for nominees for county, state and federal office in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. Locally, we look for the county sheriff's race in the Republican Primary to be hotly contested as three first-time candidates seek to replace the retiring Richard Randall.

Unfortunately, if history is a guide, the vast majority of voters will choose to stay away from the polls March 18. Just 21 percent of the county's 63,000 registered voters bothered to cast ballots in the last primary election held in March 2012.

By staying away from the polls on primary election day, voters are letting only the most partisan voters in the two major parties choose the candidates whose names will appear on the November ballot. At the national level, this has proven especially problematical in recent years for the Republican Party as more reactionary GOP voters in Illinois and numerous other states have nominated candidates that have failed to attract enough independent and moderate voters to actually win in general elections.

Both parties and the nation as a whole would be far better served if more voters took an interest and cast ballots in primary elections. Instead of staying home and complaining about the "professional politicians," more voters need to take advantage of the opportunity to pick their party's nominees by voting this March.

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