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Donnelly holds public forum

La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly addresses a group of residents Monday at New Chalet restaurant in Ottawa. Donnelly called for the meeting to discuss matters of interest with the public. Donnelly plans to conduct other such forums throughout the county.
La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly addresses a group of residents Monday at New Chalet restaurant in Ottawa. Donnelly called for the meeting to discuss matters of interest with the public. Donnelly plans to conduct other such forums throughout the county.

On Monday afternoon, La Salle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly held the first in a planned series of community meetings.

Donnelly and five members of her staff, as well as Ottawa Police Capt. Dave Gualandri, were on hand at New Chalet restaurant in Ottawa to hear and talk over issues any citizens wanted to air. Several members of the public showed.

Questions were asked about litigation involving the now-defunct La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Felony Enforcement unit. The unit was formed by Donnelly’s predecessor, Brian Towne. Donnelly could only talk about the litigation in a general way, because of confidentiality.

The discussion also covered the drug court program Donnelly has in the works.

The program would bring together prosecutors, defense attorneys and social workers to help low-level offenders address their drug problem, using a collaborative, rather than an adversarial approach. Donnelly said she believes the program
will be in place this
year.

“We hope people are willing to better themselves through the resources we’ll offer,” Donnelly said.

One member of the public in attendance was Brian McIntyre, a counselor with Two Rivers Outreach in Streator. He said he has conducted public training in Streator for the administration of Narcan, which is a drug that can save people overdosing on heroin. McIntyre said he is looking to perform such training in Ottawa.

Gualandri said he is on board with efforts such as Narcan training. However, he also noted police work every day to arrest drug dealers, and “know who they are.” Gualandri added his department has a “pretty good handle” on the drug situation in local schools.

Donnelly said she plans to hold similar public forums in other towns in the county, with representatives present from respective police departments. She also is conducting meetings with students at schools.

Gualandri pointed out the public is welcome to visit the Ottawa police station, if they wish to talk over concerns.

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