Winnebago County Board meets for first time in 2021
WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - Coming off a year filled with turmoil and disagreements members of the Winnebago County Board say they are ready to move in the right direction.
“I really want to make sure that we’re thriving within our means,” Winnebago County Board Member Angela Fellars said.
Newly appointed Winnebago County Chairperson Joe Chiarelli says there is a list of things he hopes to accomplish, but number one is building relationships with board members.
“Stepping into this position, it was a challenge because I really didn’t know where the floor was at and how deep the problems exist,” Chiarelli said.
Communication, trust, and moving forward are on the shortlist for Chiarelli and after a year filled with fued board members seem to agree.
“There was more than one occasion where I heard Chairman Haney use the phrase. ‘The last thing we need is the board involved,’” Winnebago County Board Member Paul Arena said.
Chiarelli says the dissent in the county board motivated him to run for the chairperson position. Since he won the seat, challenges did present themselves.
“We had a good conversation with Chairman Haney and myself prior to being sworn in,” Chiarelli said. “He basically told me that he had checked out several months before me taking office, which was troubling.”
Board members say the focus shifts from moving on, to moving forward and bettering the county as a whole.
“We all need to get to the spot where we’re back to an attitude of respectful disagreement but a realization that we need to compromise to get stuff done,” Arena said.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m very confident we have a lot of good skill county board members and they are all willing to serve this community,” Chiarelli said. “We just have to empower them and make sure that they can do their best job.”
Chiarelli says he is working to establish a stronger social media presence so the public knows what the county board does day in and day out.
Former Winnebago County Chairperson Frank Haney declined to comment on the story saying, “I think it is important the community see one chairman and one board at a time.”
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