Molly sworn in as Aledo's newest police officer

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Molly, a one-year-old black Labrador, completed her two-week training in May with Aledo Police Officer Adam Mosley to become Aledo's newest trained officer. She came to Aledo on Friday, May 22, 2009 and was introduced to Aledo City Council June 1, 2009.

Aledo City Clerk Jarod Dale swore-in the police K-9 during the city council's Committee of Whole meeting, after giving a short demonstration on how her keen nose works to sniff out drugs. Molly and Mosley are now certified in drug detection and tracking.

Police Chief J. Michael Sponsler told the council that Molly has already visited the Crime Stopper Board at its May 26 meeting and the children at Apollo Elementary on May 28. The Crime Stoppers helped Mosley raise a lot of the money needed for the K-9 officer.

The two were trained at the LaFollette K-9 Training Center in Strafford, Mo.

Also appearing at the committee of whole meeting was Chuck Clawson, with a request for the city to replace the grill in Central Park. Clawson explained that the grill was a gift to the city from some Aledo Kiwanis members. "We used to have a community barbeque," he said. The grill was specifically designed to cook up to 30 thick pork chops at a time that had a grill that flipped them all at once. "The city should rebuild the grill similar to what we had," he said. The grill was built to last 100 years, according to Clawson. "It probably doesn't have to be built to that level," he added. The old grill had fire brick and fire brick mortar that would withstand 5,000 degrees of heat. "Kokels made all the grills," he said.

He said the grill was available to any other group in the community to use.

Mayor Jack Doherty said, "We'll get on it, Chuck."

Mayor Doherty said he had received a phone call that day from a community member Monday concerned with the upcoming Rhubarb Festival and all the dirt surrounding the new pavilion. Mark Bieri of General Grind and Machine offered to purchase sod for the project Monday and a truckload of sod showed up on Monday afternoon. "He paid for it all himself," said Doherty.

The city had earlier decided to plant grass seed, which was coming in rather sparsely.

Mercer EDP

Also appearing before the council with a report on economic development was Jenny Garner, Mercer EDP coordinator.

The University of Illinois Extension, MERGO, Mercer County and the City of Aledo are partnered in the Mercer EDP office to attract new industry to the area and retain current jobs in the county.

Garner reviewed what the office has accomplished since its September 2008 office opening.

She told the council she spends about 50 percent of her time out of the office and there is a lot of foot traffic into the office, located at 2106 SE 3rd St., Aledo. She said that her office manager recently moved to Colorado. The office manager produced the monthly newsletters.

Mercer EDP has put up its web site, located at: http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/merceredp/.

There is a sort engine at the web site for a business directory. "There are currently 497 commercial establishments in the county," she said.

One new thing the office is working on is to poll businesses on business and retention. She plans to mail out surveys and do a follow-up with specific businesses after the mailed surveys are returned. "A 10 percent response is good," said Garner.

The agency recently polled all residents on housing, with a 21 percent response rate. "Right now we're doing inventory (on area housing)."

A housing committee has been formed that Garner labeled a "dynamic and engaged group."

The committee will make public "what it feels housing strategies should be for the county."

Tourism is another area of interest. She pointed to the county's western border, with the Mississippi River as a natural marketing point. "I plan to support the existing efforts and market the county," she said.

She said the office is also a natural source to work on community improvement through supporting values that connect all communities, such as educational programming and services. She called Mercer EDP an "advocate for quality schools."

Hazard mitigation is another area of concern. "Right now we're waiting for IEMA to release funds (for flood relief from last summer's Mississippi River flooding. As a result, Mercer EDP is involved with the Upper Mississippi River Basin Group.

There is also a group called ECQC (Emerging Cities of the Quad Cities) she is involved with that involves surrounding communities such as Geneseo, Colona, Milan and Aledo. Another group, Muscatine-Mercer County is discussing establishing bike tracks in the two counties.

For more on this story, see the June 10, 2009 issue of The Times Record.