Sponsler's last day brings crowds to fire station

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
Near a guest book at Aledo Chief of Police J. Michael Sponsler's going away luncheon, was a petition requesting signatures of Aledo residents wanting to retain Chief Sponsler as the city police chief.

A luncheon to celebrate Aledo Chief of Police J. Michael Sponsler's final day on Friday, April, 30, 2010, turned into an effort to save his job. There was an outpouring of support at the luncheon held at the Aledo Fire Station, with well wishers joining the chief for lunch, some signing petitions.

A group of concerned citizens got together and organized petitions and encouraged a phone drive to their Aledo aldermen. Slips of paper with phone numbers and addresses were passed out at the lunch.

Sponsler gave a short speech during the first hour of the luncheon. He pointed out that his staff in Aledo was his second family. "My first family was in Rock Island where I worked for 28 1/2 years," he said.

His law enforcement history started at the old Mercer County Jail where he first worked as a dispatcher. In the audience he pointed out his mentor, Steve Struble, who took him out on drives during the night shift. Struble recently retired as a captain of the Illinois State Police. Struble also served as an interim Aledo Chief of Police prior to Sponsler's stint as chief.

Sponsler's thank-you to Struble was sincere. "Thank-you for leading me into this profession."

"Deputy Steve Struble was my first deputy," he said.