Monroe County hires first black deputy

Pictured, from left, are Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing and new deputy Calvin Savage.  

Monroe County has the first black deputy in its 205-year history after Sheriff Neal Rohlfing swore in Calvin Savage at the Monroe County Board meeting Monday morning.  

Rohlfing downplayed the significance of that milestone while acknowledging it. 

“I put some significance on it, but I look more at the qualifications and experience he’s bringing,” Rohlfing said. “I knew I was going to get some notoriety and publicity on this, but that’s not why I did it. He can bring a lot of experience down here and maybe help us bridge some areas in the community like the Waterloo Listens (group).” 

Waterloo Listens is active on Facebook and was formed after community members organized a protest last June in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

For his part, Savage said he was excited to become the latest member of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. 

“Times are changing. There’s a great group of guys that I will be working with. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to Monroe County,” said Savage, whose wife and  child were present for his swearing in. 

Prior to coming here, Savage worked at the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department for 19 years, including as a deputy, qualified K-9 deputy and an undercover narcotics deputy with the St. Clair County Drug Unit. 

He also participated in several homicide investigations during his assignment to the drug unit and started working for that county in youth program when he was a teen. 

“He was one of their top guys,” Rohlfing said of Savage, who he has known since 2003. “We’re very lucky to have him down here. I’ve never heard any complaints about him from the public. He just does his job to the utmost of his ability.” 

Savage had applied for a job at the MCSD before the department recruited him for this role. 

“I like how, with the laws and stuff changing, Monroe County has stood behind their officers,” Savage said. “And the state’s attorney’s office has kept prosecuting in different ways than St. Clair County. It makes the job at lot easier when you’ve got people standing behind you.” 

On April 18, Savage will begin a three-month field training program to familiarize him with the county before moving to patrol duty. 

“I’m kind of excited,” he said. “I’ve been in St. Clair County since I was 15 years old. I got hired full-time there at 17, so that’s the only job I’ve had, really. It will be interesting to learn a new territory.” 

In other action, the county commissioners approved a request to move the Monroe County Farmers Market that has been located for years at the site of the now-closed Family Video to the parking lot at the Monroe County Annex off Route 3.  

Nathan Johanning, U of I Extension agriculture educator, spoke in favor of the move and laid out plans for how the lot would be used for the market. Johanning said it is both larger and in a better location than the previous site.  

Details, including arranging the sellers in the lot and signage, are still being worked out.  

The farmers market will operate on the same schedule as it has traditionally – on Saturdays from May 1 to Oct. 30 from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger received approval to proceed with improving Ole Still Drive in the Lake of the Woods subdivision east of Waterloo with phase-2 resurfacing. The commissioners approved a low bid of $115,148.64 for hot mix asphalt installation submitted by Rooters American Maintenance of Beckmeyer. Road District Motor Fuel Tax and Road District 3 general funds are paying for this work.

Donovan Melican, owner of The Outsider bar and restaurant on Market Street across from the courthouse, received permission to use the courthouse parking lot adjacent to the business for live bands and events. Those would take place on the first Saturday of each month, May through October. The request noted ongoing COVID restrictions and the unknown time frame for a return to normalcy.

Finally, resolutions were approved appointing Ryan Weber to the St. Louis Area Regional Response System Board of Directors and James Maurer to the 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Board. The latter appointment complies with a recent Illinois requirement that a citizen-at-large be on the 9-1-1 Board.

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