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Sterling swears in 3rd Ward alderwoman

Problems add to cost of stormwater sewer project

STERLING – The City Council is once again operating at full strength.

The council Monday unanimously approved Mayor Skip Lee’s appointment of Mackenzie Hopping to finish the remainder of former alderman Bob Conklin’s term in the 3rd Ward.

Conklin resigned Sept. 13 after he was unable to make his schedule at a new job mesh with the meetings. Conklin’s term expires in the spring and Hopping is the only person so far who has taken out paperwork to run for the seat in the April 2 consolidated general election.

Hopping, 36, is a freelance artist. Her husband, Jacob, is a surgeon at CGH Medical Center, and they have a 6-year-old daughter.

Hopping is no stranger to government, growing up in Reston, Virginia, which is part of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The Hoppings have lived in Sterling for 3 years.

After the vote, the new alderwoman was sworn in by City Clerk Marie Rombouts and took her seat at the council table.

The composition of the council, which now has three men and three women, was a topic of conversation Monday.

“I’ve been on the council for 24 years, and this is one of my proudest moments – seeing the diversity of the council and the number of women we have in other city leadership roles,” Alderman Joe Martin said.

Candidates in Sterling can gather petitions until Nov. 19, the first day of the filing period. Candidates must submit all paperwork no later than Nov. 26.

Sewer project beset with problems

Several complications have made a stormwater sewer project more expensive.

The drainage improvement project is underway in the area of Second Avenue and Miller Road. Problems arose largely because most of the utilities had to be moved to make room for the new stormwater sewer piping.

The council approved changes to the project Monday that brought the cost from $909,467.50 to $973,172.90, an increase of $63,705.40.

Moving the utilities made it necessary to do additional road paving, curb and gutter. The city will bill Nicor and Illinois American Water for their parts of the restoration work.

When digging started, an additional storm sewer was found running parallel along First Avenue on top of the existing line. The crew will add a manhole near the new box culvert to collect drainage from both lines.

The work must be realigned to remove a large object – the city isn’t yet sure what – that is buried under the curb line in the southeast part of the intersection.

Other items that will be added to the invoice include additional excavation work, pavement markings, ADA-accessible ramps and sidewalk.

City Manager Scott Shumard said these types of issues are common for infrastructure work of this magnitude.

“When you’re doing million-dollar projects, you’re likely to find things like this once you start digging,” Shumard said. “It was very difficult to coordinate the utilities on this one.”

The complications will back up the timeline for the contractor, Martin & Co. Excavating in Oregon. The original completion date of Aug. 31 was changed to June 30, 2019.

Next meeting

The City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., in the first-floor Council Chambers.

Go to or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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