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PAXTON - A member of the Ford County Board from rural Paxton was killed in a traffic accident Wednesday morning in Vermilion County.

Michael F. Rieken, 62, of 184 North 1700 East Road, was westbound on Vermilion County Road 3350 North when he failed to stop at the intersection with Illinois 49. Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said Rieken's pickup truck struck the side of a southbound semitrailer truck driven by Wilbur Elledge, 41, of Brocton.

Rieken, who apparently was headed home from work, was pronounced dead at 5:16 a.m., Johnson said. An inquest will be conducted, Johnson said.

State police at Pesotum said Elledge was not injured.

The road was shut down for about four hours until the accident scene, which was south of Rankin, could be cleared, state police said.

Rieken served two stints on the County Board.

County Clerk Linda Kellerhals said Rieken was most recently elected to a four-year term in 2004. A previous term on the board ended when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for county treasurer.

County Board Chairwoman Debbie Smith of rural Paxton said Rieken "had the taxpayers in mind when he made his decisions and opinions he brought up.

"He always tried to be fair that way. I think this board pretty much all got along.

"It's very unfortunate that that happened," she said.

Rieken served on the sheriff's and insurance-personnel committees and was County Board liaison to the 911 board.

J.R. Herriott of Paxton, who served at the helm of the county board during Herriott's previous stint, said Herriott was "an excellent board member."

"He delved into things very deeply and tried to give everything a lot of thought," Herriott said.

"He was, as far as I'm concerned, a good, conscientious board member. I really enjoyed working with him.

"He would differ (on issues) and not hold grudges."

County Clerk Linda Kellerhals said Rieken was "easy to work with. He seemed to care about your family and that type of thing. He seemed to be a caring individual. I'm saddened. I feel saddened for his family."

Under state statute, Smith is authorized to appoint a replacement for Rieken within 60 days. Kellerhals said the Republican Central Committee will decide upon a candidate to run for his office in the November election.

Ford-Baier Funeral Home, Paxton, is in charge of arrangements.


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