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Rochelle to pay $832,000 fixing sewer lines

After years of flooding in homes and yards a group of 8 people said they were fed up and filed suit.

This week, that suit yielded an $830,000 settlement.
The City of Rochelle agreed to make repairs and upgrades to fix the problems.

"Across the tracks, this never would have happened because if it ever even started," John Jackson said, "they would have nipped it in the bud as Barney Fife, say ain't no way in the world they would have lived like this."

Jackson and his neighbor Sittie Butts live just north of those tracks and say their neighborhood's had an unwelcome guest for years - the entire town's raw sewage.

"It was very depressing because you know the odor was offensive because even though you could stand over there you could still pick it up," Butts said.

Jackson says while working for the city he discovered 70 year old pipes were repaired on the south side of Rochelle but never the north causing waste to erupt through his bath tub and in his yard.

For nearly eight years he asked the city to fix it, but was told it was the fault of those who lived there and that the way they were disposing of waste was clogging the toilets.

"I can't count the times I showed them what was happening down here and told them about the situation. Then I realized that nothing was going to get done that way," Jackson said.

So Jackson, Butts and six others filed a federal lawsuit.

The city settled for $832,000.

New pipes, manholes and a pumping station should be installed by the end of November.

"I see some daylight. Nothing has happened yet, but I see some daylight," Jackson said.

Daylight he hopes will now shine on both sides of the city's tracks.

The settlement must be reviewed by the EPA and the Justice Department before a federal judge approves it.
A message was left with the City of Rochelle's attorney, Toni Sawyer, but he has no responded.

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