STERLING, Ill.--The upcoming visit for the Hells Angels to Sterling doesn't have Ron Potthoff nervous
"There hasn't been a problem, ever," said Potthoff, Chief of Police. "They go out (to Oak Knoll), they come downtown to one of the bars, and they just have a few drinks and leave."
The reason for the visit begins with Lamont Mathias, the 47 year old Rockford Bike Shop Owner, who was killed after he was shot, beaten and stabbed in 1994. He was buried in Oak Knoll Cemetary 19 years ago. A member of the police force in Sterling for more than 40 years, Pothoff remembers the tension from 1994 well.
"We just kind of, watched them and they of course knew we were watching and nothing happened. There was some apprehension for one or two years after that. But basically, they come down, they pay their respects to Monte and go downtown, have a few beers and that's it."
Champs Bar is a prime spot for the motorcycle gang, and despite their reputation, neighboring shop owners have never had an issue.
"They seem to be very respectful of our downtown mainstreet," said Vicki Mandrell, who owns Tuff Dog Bakery that sits next door on Third Street.
"I've not had any close experiences where they've affected me negativity so I can't, I can't judge," Mandrell said.
"I don't think we've even done a traffic stop on 'em if I remember. so they've been no problem at all," said Potthoff.