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ROCK ISLAND -- Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee submitted his resignation letter to the county board Wednesday evening.

The resignation will occur on May 1, pending his swearing in as circuit court judge. An announcement of his appointment was made earlier this month. He will replace retiring Judge Lori Lefstein. 

In the interim, Patricia Castro will serve as the acting state's attorney until a permanent replacement is brought to the board. 

"I think (McGehee) has done a good job as state's attorney," Rock Island County Board Chairman Richard Brunk said. "I think that he has some very positive impact on the office, and I know his relationship with the board has been very good in working through matters and in general." 

After the meeting, Brunk said he has no plans to rush the process. He said once McGehee's resignation is official, he will notify the political parties of the vacancy and announce a process to submit interest in filling the remainder of the unexpired term.

"It would be premature for me to solicit or announce a process for anyone to apply for the position prior to Mr. McGehee actually vacating the position," Brunk said.    

The term will end in December 2020. Brunk said he hopes to be able to bring a nomination before the board at the June meeting. 

In his resignation letter, McGehee gave thanks for the many years as state's attorney and legal counsel. The letter stated he hoped for the best for the board and the people of Rock Island County.

In other business:

• Judge Mark VandeWiele made a presentation on the new Courthouse Square Memorial Wall. He also gave a detailed lesson outlining the history of the county and its buildings.

An announcement will be made on when the new memorial wall will open.

He said the county was formed in 1833, and Courthouse Square was created as the founding fathers of the county intended for the county seat to be located in Rock Island. Courthouse Square is located between 14th and 15th Streets and 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Rock Island. 

The wall will be museum quality and feature acrylic panels displaying the 1897 courthouse plans, county records, pictures and a timeline. The unveiling of the wall is expected to happen later this month, but a specific date and time has not been announced yet. 

"Whatever happens to the courthouse, it is important for us to know what that building looked like," VandeWiele said. "What we are envisioning here is something the county can be proud of."

VandeWiele told a story about how the town of Hampton also wanted to be the county seat. Residents showed up to vote, and upon seeing Colonel Davenport, assumed an army from Davenport was coming, so they stole the ballot box. Election officials had caught wind of their plan and planted a fake ballot box, which is the one residents of Hampton had placed their votes in. After Hampton supporters stole the box, the real election was held and no one had voted for Hampton to be county seat, hence Rock Island won and the rest is history.

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