Oglesby swears in new police officer Rivara

City explains extended power outage

Oglesby has a new police officer.

Michael Rivara was sworn in Monday to the Oglesby Police Department. Rivara, 23, is a local product, educated in Oglesby schools, La Salle-Peru High School and then Illinois Valley Community College before he earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University.

“I’m very excited to serve my community,” Rivara said after taking the oath of office, administered by Commissioner Carrie Lijewski.

He’s also the grandson of Mayor Dom Rivara, which drew a lone protest from the spectator gallery.

“Doesn’t that fall under nepotism?” Drew Merriman said, adding later, “It’s called nepotism. Let’s stop it.”

Lijewski and Police Chief Doug Hayse disputed it, asserting Michael Rivara performed well on his test and was screened by an independent panel.

“I think he was very well prepared to step into this role as an officer of the city of Oglesby,” Lijewski said.

Hayse called the nepotism charge “far-fetched” and noted Rivara was third on the eligibility list — the two in front of him declined posts — and he’d have been ranked first if indeed nepotism were a factor.

But the sharpest rebuke came from Dom Rivara.

“You’ve been a schoolground bully all your life and I want you know that this type of conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the mayor said, and challenged Merriman to provide corroboration by the next meeting.

Separately, Commissioner Jason Curran apologized to city residents affected by the Sunday outage, which wasn’t fully corrected until Tuesday. Curran explained there were multiple causes to work and it took time, as well as Wire Mesh temporarily agreeing to reduce its consumption, before it could be fully corrected.

Rivara agreed it was “the perfect storm” and thanked the electric department for its persistence in correcting it.

“The outage Sunday was like a nightmare,” Rivara said. “One thing after another.”

Finally, the council adopted an ordinance to help the city attain funds under the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The city could be eligible for $436,000 in relief, but had to adopt language to meet fund requirements. In the first round of payments dispersed to local communities, La Salle received $610,797.33, Spring Valley $348,357, Utica $90,810.73 and Magnolia $16,857. Communities must get their application in by Sept. 30 to cash in on their portion of more than $742 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.