The Rockford Files

A Road to Nowhere

“That’s my toll booth,” Tom Ditzler says, laughing when his wife, Jan, mentions the portable toilet that the county has left stationed on an island in the road.  “Every car has to drop a quarter in as they pass by.”

This November day is bitter, in more ways than one.  After almost three years of legal battles and construction snafus, the Harrison-Springfield extension—a massive four-lane road that completes a loop around Rockford—has finally opened to traffic.  Reports from the ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning caused a stir among local activists, when a caller to a radio talk show claimed that he had seen Tom embracing Kris Cohn, the Winnebago County Board chairman who has pursued the extension with an intensity bordering on the demonic.  While the Ditzlers had received an invitation from the county to attend the ribbon-cutting (a slap in the face that is typical of Winnebago County under her current chairman), Cohn is more likely to reconvert to her ancestral Catholicism than Tom is to hug her: Cohn’s “leadership” on this issue cost Ditzler, a veteran who lost his sight serving in the U.S. Army, more than half of his 17-acre homestead, which was taken from him through a particularly nasty form of eminent domain called “quick take” (see “For Keeps! A Christian Defense of Property,” Views, April 2001).  Now, the...

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