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City fills tourism, electric department vacancies

October 18, 2018

ROCK FALLS – The city filled two key positions at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Danielle Rogers, former executive director of the Freeport Downtown Development Foundation, is the new tourism director.

She fills the vacancy created by the Aug. 21 resignation of Janell Loos, who had overseen Rock Falls tourism’s transition from the former Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to a city department. Loos had been in the position since July 2015.

Rogers marketed Freeport’s downtown and did special events planning for 6 years. After the recent consolidation of that city’s CVB, FDDF, economic development and Chamber functions, she had also served as interim director of the CVB.

“Danielle has a strong tourism and marketing background, so this should be a good fit,” City Administrator Robbin Blackert said.

Rogers most recently worked as marketing director for Pearl Valley Farms in Pearl City, and at the talent booking agency she owns, 180management. Her first day on the job will be Oct. 31.

The council also hired Lawrence Hanrahan as the electric department’s operations manager position. The job has been open since April 24, when the council decided it would not renew Greg Johnson’s contract.

Hanrahan will be second in command at the electric department, answering to Director Dick Simon. Like the department heads, the operations manager works on 1-year contracts that the city has an option to extend.

Hanrahan is from the area, but comes to Rock Falls from Michigan.

“We always try to promote from within, but in this instance, we were unable to, so it took a little longer,” Blackert said. “We’ve thought a lot lately about succession plans and we believe we’ve found someone who can eventually take over the electric department.”

Also Tuesday, the council revisited bids for water department projects that had been tabled at the previous meeting.

The council unanimously decided to waive competitive bidding because the initial bids received were 40 percent over the engineer’s estimate.

“The utilities committee got other quotes, not to evade the competitive bids rule, but in an attempt to make the projects affordable,” City Attorney Jim Reese said.

The new bids are $19,999.999 from Kirby Cable Service of Pecatonica for a water main extension on Lincoln Street, and $12,597.99 from Ferguson Waterworks of DeKalb for main extension materials that will be used in an area from Swallow Street to Lincoln.

An ordinance that would authorize the city to borrow $969,579 from the EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Program received a first read and was moved along for action.

The money will pay for a sanitary sewer project that runs along Leroy Avenue and West First Street, from just east of the high school to First Avenue, and along Eighth Avenue from Leroy to West Fifth Street.

The council has awarded a $819,260 contract for the work to Chesterfield, Missouri-based Insituform Technologies USA at its Oct. 2 meeting, but the action was contingent on the city receiving the EPA loan.

The city expects to get 30 percent of the loan forgiven and the interest rate would be locked in at 1.84 percent.