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Aledo, Illinois

WHAT WE KNOW: Mercer County Sheriff Dusty Terrill told the Mercer County School Board earlier this month that he might consider providing a school resource officer for Mercer County High School. He said the district would check first with the Aledo Police Department, which has been providing an officer to the high school for four hours each day.

WHAT'S NEW: At an Aledo City Council meeting this week, aldermen gave the go-ahead for Chief of Police Chris Sullivan to negotiate with the Mercer County School District for a full-time SRO at the high school.

The school district already has been working with the county board to provide a full-time officer at the junior high in Joy. The district agreed to pay the full salary for that position when the board said it didn’t have the means to contribute.

Sullivan said the school paid about $25,000 annually for the four-hours-per-day officer. 

He said he hoped to hire a full-time officer as soon as possible, citing recent mass shootings as the reason for the urgency, “The most precious resource we have is our children. ... It’s never happened here, but it doesn’t mean it can’t,” Sullivan said.

The entities are currently under a multi-year contract, and they will continue in that capacity unless a new agreement is reached.

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WHAT'S NEXT: The council approved moving forward with an agreement between the city and local business General Grind & Machine in a community effort to establish the VFW as a long-term emergency shelter.

Sullivan, serving as interim city administrator, told the council the city has been approached by officials from General Grind who would like to donate a generator worth $50,000 for the project.

Current temporary shelters include the fire department, city hall and police department. “There are no facilities where we can house more than 100 people for a long period of time,” Sullivan said.

He said an established long-term shelter would have to have bathroom facilities, a place to store food and a power source separate from the power grid. The generator would be that power source.

Representatives of from the city, the VFW and General Grind will meet to work out the details.

In other business, the council heard about final preparations for the city’s 17th annual “Antique Days,” to be held Saturday, Aug. 24. Festivities will include a car show, tractor pull, rib cook-off at the V.F.W., deals at downtown businesses, bandshell entertainment at Central Park, a farmers market, pioneer demonstrations, children’s activities and antique vendors. Details can be found on the Aledo Main Street Facebook page and at aledomainstreet.com.

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— CALA SMOLDT/mercerconews@gmail.com

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