Fire chief expresses appreciation; firemen awarded

[FEB. 6, 2001]  At Monday night’s council meeting, Lincoln Fire Chief Ken Ebelherr read a letter of thanks to all those who helped the Fire Department fight the Scully Building fire, and he presented letters of recognition to the Department’s C shift members, who were on duty when the fire broke out.

The letter read:

"On behalf of the Mayor, the members of the Lincoln City Council, the members of the Lincoln Fire Department and the people of Lincoln, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the following organizations and individuals that provided us with assistance on January 16 and 17 at the fire at the Scully Building:

"The Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District for their aid at the scene of the fire; the Atlanta Fire Department for providing an engine and personnel at our station to ensure the rest of the city had fire protection while we were at the scene of the Scully Building; the Lincoln Police Department, Logan County Sheriff’s Department, officers and dispatchers who worked throughout the night and into the morning ensuring the safety of bystanders, handling traffic and answering our radio requests; the Lincoln Street Department for providing sand for the icy streets caused by the water runoff and barricades to reroute traffic safely from the area; the Logan County Paramedic Association for providing paramedics and ambulance service at the scene to treat injuries and provide a rehabilitation area for firefighters; the local Emergency Services and Disaster Agency and Red Cross for food and drinks that they provided; Cilco and Illinois American Water Companies who had crews and representatives at the scene to provide services as needed; Jim Oliver, an investigator with the Illinois State Fire Marshall who has worked with us in the past and has provided invaluable assistance on this fire; Sorrento’s Pizza for providing us with food and drinks the night of the fire; Randy Heinzel of Heinzel Trucking for his help in maintaining the vehicles at the scene of the fire; Skip Baker from Farm Services for providing fuel for the vehicles at the scene of the fire.

[to top of second column in this article]

"For a number of days after the fire I was made aware from various people of the number of prayer groups who, aware of the fire that night, had called each other or who had gathered to pray for the safety of the firefighters. Standing here representing all the fire fighters involved that evening, I can only say thank you, though a simple thank you seems inadequate for the care and kindness you have shown us.

"I apologize if I have failed to remember and recognize anyone. I know that everyone who helped us that evening, whether an organization or an individual, did so not because they sought recognition, but because of their sincere desire to help when help is needed."

Chief Ebelherr then presented a letter of recognition honoring the C shift who responded to the fire, made sure all residents of the apartments on the upper floors were out of the building, and then remained in the building fighting the fire until the fire went through the roof and it was no longer safe for them to be inside.


Asst. Ch. Don Fulk

Lt. Bob Dunovsky

Jason Van Winkle

Jake Lessen

Chris Harding

Kendall Fitzpatrick

[These firefighters laid their lives on the line going inside the building to check for tenants and then fighting the fire from the inside for a time.]

Those named were Assistant Chief Don Fulk, Lt. Bob Dunovsky, and firemen Jason Van Winkle, Jake Lessen, Chris Harding and Kendall Fitzpatrick.

[Joan Crabb]



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No eastbound through-traffic on Route 10 between Connolley and Business 55

[FEB. 5, 2001]  Allow a little extra time if you’re heading west past the Business 55 intersection on Woodlawn Road. The eastbound lanes of this area are closed to all traffic. The waste treatment plant apologizes for the inconvenience, which is expected to last until Thursday morning.

Two leaks were discovered in a force main break (a high-pressured sewer line). The leaks have been repaired, and after investigation it has been determined that no significant environmental damage was incurred.

Roadblocks have been set up under the direction of Illinois Department of Transportation. IDOT also is directing the roadway repair. The road must be restored according to their specifications.

Traffic is a one-way loop around the section of Lincoln including Wal-Mart, Eagle Country Foods, Fashion Bug, Radio Shack, Burger King and other businesses on the west side of Lincoln. Everything between Connolley and Business 55 is affected. If you are heading west, you can go directly to these businesses. When you are coming back east, you will need to continue going west to Connolley (at West Lincoln-Broadwell School corner), turn left and head south to Fifth Street Road, then turn left onto Fifth Street.

Please plan ahead! Road work has been hampered, and workers’ lives have been endangered by motorists attempting to backtrack.

Update, 3 p.m.: Lincoln officials worked with IDOT this morning and have found a way to allow traffic back as far as Heritage Plaza (Autozone and Pizza Hut entry).


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Lincoln Daily

Sojourn to hire new Logan County advocate for domestic violence

[FEB. 3, 2001]  Sojourn Shelter and Service of Springfield is seeking to fill the domestic violence advocate position in Lincoln and hopes to offer services from the courthouse basement again soon, according to Andrea Shaner, prevention and education coordinator.  The advocate position has been vacant for four months.

Shaner spoke at a domestic violence seminar sponsored by the Domestic Abuse and Violence Task Force of the Healthy Communities Partnership of Logan County.  The seminar at the Lincoln Park District on Thursday, Feb. 1, drew about 30 people.

Group counseling and court advocacy are the first services Sojourn plans to offer in Lincoln, Shaner said.  In addition, volunteers are being sought to drive victims to a safe place.

Sojourn services are available to Logan County residents through the Springfield headquarters.  Collect calls to (217) 726-5200 are always accepted.  Confidential services include a shelter program, children’s program, court advocacy, Sojourn Advocate For Emergency Response (SAFER), medical advocacy, prevention and education, a volunteer program, and non-residential services to clients in Logan, Sangamon, Menard, Christian and Montgomery counties.

Shaner said that how victims feel treated at the scene of the crime is the most important factor in whether they pursue charges.  The SAFER program provides an on-call advocate who goes to a scene of domestic battery once it is secured by police and counsels victims including children.  Although this service is not available in Lincoln, Chief of Police Rich Ludolph said officers do explain Sojourn services and encourage victims to call immediately.  Because many do not have transportation available, he emphasized the need for volunteers to offer rides.

To counteract teen violence, Shaner encouraged classroom programs connecting teens to role models of the same sex.  She said it is important to start young in teaching empathy, respect and self-esteem.  Ludolph described the programs offered by the Lincoln Police Department: Violence Prevention for Our Youth taught by Officer Rich Montcalm in kindergarten through fourth grade, Violence Education and Gang Awareness (VEGA) taught by Sergeant Darrell Sisk in fifth grade, and Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) led by Sisk, Montcalm or Sergeant Mike Geriets for sixth and seventh graders and high school freshmen. 

He said these and the YMCA after-school program have reduced juvenile crime occurring between 3 and 5 p.m.  The police programs are funded by a three-year grant, and Ludolph said that if he can find additional funding he wants to offer a violence prevention program for home-schooled children as well.  Shaner said Lincoln is ahead of many communities in youth education.


[to top of second column in this article]

She defined domestic violence as “a pattern of coercive behavior used to gain control over another person.”  Occurrences include forms of physical, emotional and financial control and tend to increase in frequency and severity.  Most abusers are male, and 95-97 percent of victims are female.

 “Abusers have a public and a private face,” making the crime nearly invisible, said Shaner.  Domestic violence is the most common violent crime in the United States, occurring in one out of every four homes and in every type of neighborhood.

In working with victims of domestic violence, Shaner told her audience of social service workers and others, “you must redefine success” to include building trust and imparting information, rather than just getting the victim to leave the abusive situation.  The Sojourn philosophy emphasizes victim self-determination, and the victim chooses whether to leave.

In the past two years the address of the Springfield shelter, 1800 Westchester Blvd., has been publicized.  Shaner said, however, that if organizers are ever successful in opening a shelter in Lincoln, its location should be kept secret for safety reasons.

During the last fiscal year the average stay at the Springfield shelter was 33 nights.  Saner said there is no specified limit, but clients must experience a level of risk and must be working on specific goals. It takes an average of eight stays in the shelter before a victim is ready to leave the abusive situation permanently.

She said victims stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, including not wanting to admit a failed relationship, not wanting to be alone, being willing to sacrifice self so children are clothed and fed, and having no other model for relationships.  It is a myth that victims are a specific type of person, she added; the similarities come after the abuse when threats, intimidation, isolation and economic control have lowered victims’ self-esteem to the point that they feel guilty and worthless.

Shaner, who spent two years with Sojourn’s children’s program, said working with the young is both tough and hopeful: tough because the children think they are guilty, and hopeful because of the chance to break the cycle of violence.  Noting that 81 percent of male abusers saw their mothers being abused, she said, “We work hard not to let the boys in the shelter think they have no chance.”  Children are taught that their only job is to seek safety, because most child victims are injured while protecting their mother.

[Lynn Spellman]

Fire investigation update

[FEB. 2, 2001]  News of the Tuesday, Jan. 16, Scully Building fire has been scant.

Since word of suspected arson was released a few days after the fire, there has been no other official information. By the end of the first week, the building was released from physical investigation back to the owners. At that time it was said that as standard procedure interviews with people were being conducted. The investigators issued a request for pictures from the night of the fire to include in their research.

Again today, LDN contacted Lincoln Police Detective Sgt. Jon Bunner, who has been working with fire investigator Jim Davis. Bunner said he could answer no questions; please contact the state’s attorney’s office.

State’s Attorney Tim Huyett had this to say: "It continues to be an ongoing investigation." He could not say anything when asked if the physical examination of the fire is still going on or if people were still being interviewed. Huyett graciously explained that, as in all investigations, they cannot release any such information while the case is still under investigation. Based on a new privacy law instituted in March 2000, a release of such information would jeopardize the case.


India earthquake shocks felt in Lincoln

[FEB. 1, 2001]  We all dread the possibility of a natural disaster striking where we or our extended family and friends live. Imagine living in or near Chicago and disaster strikes, damaging 80 percent of the city’s buildings; nearly 90 percent of the homes are mere rubble; only 16,000 people from the suburban population of 220,000 are accounted for; at least 100,000 people are still buried in the ruins; 18 suburbs simply disappear.

This is exactly what happened just six days ago in India. At 8:46 a.m. on Jan. 26, on what is now being called Black Friday, tectonic plates shifted, the ground shook and in some places opened up, leaving cracks 8 feet deep and 20 feet wide.


[Neal Patel]

Lincolnite Sunil (Neal) Patel, manager of Super 8 Motel, continues to be in fear and concern for his family in India. Patel was born in Ahmedabad and raised in nearby Bhuj, 20 km (12.4 mi.) from the quake epicenter.

Patel has heard from his family and they are safe for now. They are still in their home, which suffered only some structural cracks. They say there is no food, water or electricity, but it is the constant worry of aftershocks that preoccupies the thoughts of both survivors and rescuers. Aftershocks occurred Wednesday afternoon and are expected to continue occurring for another week.

Patel moved here from New Jersey. His New Jersey church is supporting a ministry that is there on-site, aiding the quake victims. You can help aid the victims of this terrible disaster. A fund has been set up at the Illini Bank. Contributions may be made by sending or taking checks to Illini Bank, 2201 Woodlawn Road in Lincoln. Make checks payable to Yogi Divine Society and note that the donation is for earthquake relief in western India. All donations are tax-deductible. The money will go directly to the ministry agency that has been on-site since the first day of the quake. Some statistics on this mission are provided below under "Earthquake relief in western India." 

If you would like further information, contact Neal Patel, Super 8 Motel, 2809 Woodlawn Road, Lincoln, IL 62656; phone (217) 732-8886; e-mail



[to top of second column in this article]

A general quake report

From Pakistan to Nepal, the entire country of India was rocked in a quake of 7.9 magnitude Friday, Jan. 26. The hardest-hit areas were in the state of Gujarat. The city of Ahmedabad (ahm-deh-bah), population 10 million, and district of Bhuj (boo-dj) suffered the greatest damages.

Many areas have been leveled. As the final search for the living in an area of Bhuj called Anjar (population 35,000) continued Wednesday, aftershocks shook the area. The city, which is now just a pile of rubble, is now closed. A number of other areas have also been searched and closed.

Gujarat is the second-most-industrialized state of India. The massive losses suffered in this quake will have long-ranging economic impact on the already struggling country of India.

While the incomprehensible loss of life and injuries is still being dealt with, the World Health Organization has a UN disaster management team preparing for the next stage of the disaster. They are doing a situational analysis in order to prevent the spread of disease. Many world relief organizations have set up camps and are providing food, water and shelter for the survivors. It will be a long, expensive recovery time for all of the areas struck.

The following newspaper has extensive information and ongoing reports on the effects of the quake: Times of India,


Earthquake relief in western India

(Source: Flyer from Yogi Divine Society)


  • Population of Bhuj and surrounding areas: 236,000. People found alive as of 1-28-01: 16,000.
  • The quake destroyed 90 percent of the homes in Bhuj.
  • At least 100,000 (the Hindu) are still buried in debris.
  • Around 18 villages have disappeared.
  • Eighty percent of the buildings in Ahmedabad have suffered severe structural damage. It is expected that it will take at least 10 years for affected areas to recover from this.


[to top of second column in this section]

Yogi Divine Society (YDS), a socio-religious organization spearheaded by P.P. Hariprasad Swami Maharaj, has taken immediate relief efforts in these areas:

  • YDS workers reached Bhuj and surrounding areas on the same day and delivered 25,000 food packets.
  • A 24-hour relief operation center has been set up in Rajkot. All relief operations are directed from there. A relief camp with 20 YDS workers and 400 volunteers has been set up in Anjar village near Bhuj. Operations at the site include:

  • A 24-hour kitchen provides meals for everyone.

  • 50,000 food packets are delivered daily to Bhuj.

  • Ten tons of prepared food, eight tons of fresh vegetables and two tons of potatoes have reached the affected area.

  • Blankets, tents and clothes are being delivered to the quake-affected areas.

  • Medical supplies have reached Bhuj from YDS centers in Anand and Baroda.

  • Volunteers numbering 1,500 to 2,000 from centers in Baroda, Surat and Bombay were expected in Bhuj.

The Yogi Divine Society appeals for help in these efforts. All donations are tax-deductible.

Contributions may be made by sending or taking checks to Illini Bank, 2201 Woodlawn Road in Lincoln. Make checks payable to Yogi Divine Society and note that the donation is for earthquake relief in western India.

District 27 saves $1 million
interest on bond issue

[JAN. 31, 2001]  Lower than anticipated interest rates and a shorter repayment period mean that Elementary School District 27 taxpayers will save more than a million dollars in interest on the loan for the district’s share of construction of two new schools, Superintendent Robert Kidd told the Lincoln Daily News.

The $4.24 million bond issue, the district’s share of the more than $12 million project, was originally projected to cost $3,060,460 in interest over the next 17 or 18 years. Because interest rates have gone down, the district will instead pay $1,933,453 over a period of 15 years, a saving of $1,127,007, Dr. Kidd said.

The interest rate the district will pay is 4.9275 percent, while the rate projected earlier was about 6.5 percent, he said.

"This is not an extra million dollars available for the school district to spend. This leaves the money in the pockets of the taxpayers," Kidd said.

The $4.24 million also includes money to repay the $85,000 remaining in the current bond issue. The tax rate to pay off the bonds will remain at 47 cents per $100 of assessed equalized valuation, the same as it is for the current bond issue. The rest of the funding for the $12 project will come from a state grant.

The bonds for the project, construction of a new elementary school to replace Central School and a new junior high school, have already been sold by First Midstate of Bloomington, and were purchased by a local investor, whose name has not been disclosed.

The school district has taken another step which may also result in cost savings on the construction project hiring a construction manager to oversee the building of the two schools. At a recent meeting, the District 27 school board hired the firm of S. M. Wilson & Co. of Granite City and St. Louis.

The board had previously discussed the possibility of hiring a construction manager, and Kidd and several board members began looking into the possibility.

"The districts we talked to who used this firm are very satisfied with them," Kidd said. One such district was Rochester, and the manager of that project, Steve Zick of Springfield, will also manage the job for District 27. Other Illinois school districts which have use the construction management services of S. M. Wilson include Tolono, Belleville, Eldorado, Greenville, Carlinville, Waterloo, Pleasant Plains and Breese.


[to top of second column in this article]

"The traditional way to build a project like this was to have the architect put together specifications, get bids and hire a general contractor," Kidd explained. "The general contractor hired subcontractors. Generally they don’t have a lot of say on the contractor, because they have to take the lowest responsible bid. If the contractor and the subcontractors found ways to save money, those dollars went into the contractor’s pocket. Traditionally, the architect would come to visit the site once a week or so.

"A construction manager, however, will be on site at all times, making sure things are being done the way we expect them to be done. Before bids are let, the construction management firm’s staff go over the architect’s drawing and ‘cost it out.’ They know if we are asking for more than we can get. Then they let the bids for subcontractors. They still have to take the lowest reasonable bids, but they will probably have a more accurate idea of what the actual costs will be, because two sets of people, the architect and his staff and the construction manager’s staff, have gone over the plans. This will minimize the need for change orders and improve the chances of preventing cost overruns," Kidd said.



Because the construction manager is paid a flat fee, determined ahead of time, if money is saved during the building process, that money remains with the school district.

"One of the reason we went with the construction manager concept is that these firms pride themselves on bringing building projects in on time and on budget," Kidd said.

The next step in the building process is to get preliminary plans drawn up by the architect, Dave Leonatti of Melrose, Morse and Leonatti of Springfield. The Central School building committee, a group of teachers and others who are providing input on plans for the new school, will meet with the architect on Feb 14. Committee members are Lenny Janet, principal; teachers Charlise Leesman, Susan Rohrer and Leslie Wilmert; librarian Elaine Knight; custodian Terry Thompson; and school board members Bruce Carmitchel and Joe Brewer.

Kidd said he would like to see ground broken for the new Central School, to be built behind the present school and facing Seventh Street, in August or September.

[Joan Crabb]


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