The Winnebago County Forest Preserve Board hopes it has turned the page on its controversial former president by eliminating the public safety position he created.
Wednesday night's board meeting was the first meeting new Forest Preserve Board president Mary McNamara-Bernsten presided over. Their first action item was getting rid of the public safety officer position staffed by Theresa Rawaillot, a former Roscoe police officer.
The board voted unanimously to eliminate the position that board members say Randy Olson created and staffed without their approval. Rawaillot's been on paid vacation for the past week and a half, and none of the money that she's been paid including vacation will be reimbursed to the county.
"That's part of the unfortunate chain of events that have happened," said McNamara-Bernsten. "There is not way to receive money back on our end for a contract that she thought she was fully a part of."
Neither Rawaillot nor Olson was present at Wednesday night's meeting. Board members speculate that Olson was out of town, but do believe he will be back at the board's next meeting.
Board members also voted to begin
talks again with the Winnebago County Sheriff's office to possibly reinstate
police service with them with the contract expires this year. The public safety position created by Olson
was created to end the contract with the Sheriff's department and create a
separate police force for
"We have just given lead for Mr. Kalousek to contact the Sheriff's office and to begin negotiations and the board will be a big part of that," said McNamara-Bernsten.
With McNamara-Bernsten stepping into her new role as president, the board voted to elect Treasurer Judy Barnard to take her place as vice president. The board will choose a new treasurer at another meeting. Barnard says he first order of action is to have board members take some good governance classes.
"We want to rebuild the public's trust because that is the thing that is going to be most important and hopefully if we demonstrate good leadership then that will happen," said Barnard.
McNamara-Bernsten says if and when the Forest Preserve goes back to using the sheriff's department there may be some cuts to the service provided due to a lack of funding. She says she thinks however that they will still provide the same level of service they have already been providing.