ESDA and LEPC conduct successful hazardous materials exercise
at water treatment plant

[OCT. 3, 2001]  Shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, smoke began to emerge from the Illinois American Water Company treatment plant at 1730 N. Jefferson St. in Lincoln. A Lincoln Police Department squad car appeared on the scene at 9:12, responding to what was believed to be a smoke problem. The first officer to the treatment plant door fell back gasping and coughing, calling to his partner to stay back. So began a Logan County ESDA and LEPC exercise testing emergency reaction to release of a hazardous material, in this case chlorine.

From the spectator viewing area, the unfolding scene seemed slow-moving and low key. White wisps substituted for the yellow-green plume of chlorine the scenario called for. Firefighters wearing standard response uniforms and masks pulled the victim to the street in front of the treatment plant and sat him up. The second police officer staggered from the squad car, and firefighters also assisted him. By 9:20 an ambulance had arrived and both victims were moved toward Feldman Drive by stretcher. Minutes passed as rescue workers checked chemical references and developed a plan of action.


Meanwhile, in the Crisis Management Center at the Public Safety Complex, the smoke was identified at 9:23 as possibly chlorine gas. Computer projections incorporating barometric pressure and wind speed and direction indicated that the plume of gas was moving at 10 mph and that those within half a mile were in imminent danger. Later the zone was enlarged to 1.7 miles.

A chlorine concentration of 40 parts per million can kill in 30 minutes, according to Logan County Health Department administrator Lloyd Evans. High concentrations can cause emphysema, permanent lung damage and cardiac arrest. Even 1 to 3 parts per million can mildly irritate mucous membranes and the upper respiratory tract, he said.

Emergency Services and Disaster Agency Coordinator Dan Fulscher assembled Local Emergency Planning Committee members to deal with the crisis. Fulscher and Lincoln Police Chief Rich Montcalm briefed Mayor Beth Davis and Logan County Board ESDA chairman Doug Dutz, acting for the board’s chairman, Dick Logan. The two elected officials decided to block all roads into the city, call in all sheriff’s deputies and issue a Shelter in Place order.


According to Patrick Keane of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, when there is inadequate time to move people before a contaminant reaches them, it is best for people to stay in their homes, closing all windows and doors, shutting off air conditioners, and not drinking water. The closer a person is to an immediately hazardous substance, the better it is to stay inside, Keane said. It is unwise to evacuate a person into a higher concentration than is present in the home.

The team decided to use all methods available to inform the public: broadcasting through Civil Defense speakers, interrupting radio programming, overriding cable to insert a line of instructions and activating weather alert radios. Davis said the decision-makers were concerned about people out in the downtown and west-side shopping areas and so decided to phone a number of stores and have the message broadcast at Wal-Mart. These activities, as well as others away from the Jefferson Street scene, were not actually carried out.


The danger zone included Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, and all three previously planned shelters not in the zone were in line with the moving chlorine. The team therefore decided to activate a shelter in New Holland and also to ask Lincoln Christian College for permission to set up a shelter and triage area. In addition to assessing the severity of injuries and beginning treatment, shelter personnel would help track victims for families who are looking for them.

Near the intersection of Jefferson and Feldman Drive a child’s swimming pool was set up for gross decontamination of victims. A spray of water can remove much chlorine from clothing, but that water is then contaminated and must be contained. Further decontamination would be conducted at shelters, to protect health-care workers as well as victims. The first two victims were decontaminated and in the ambulance by 9:28.


At 9:34 two firefighters crawled into the treatment plant and pulled out another victim, an Illinois American Water employee. At this point a miraculous glitch occurred. Planners expected the employee to be dead, since pure chlorine can kill in 7 to 10 seconds and he had been exposed to a heavy concentration for 25 minutes. Nevertheless, firefighters revived him. Speakers at the debriefing session after the exercise had a hard time explaining this.

Keane, who is Region 7 coordinator of the State Interagency Response Team, interjected several problems into the action. One was the change in wind direction that put ALMH in the danger zone. Another was a fire in the communications trailer. Members of the Macon County ESDA team then used ham radios to collect and distribute messages.

At 9:46 three firefighters returned to the plant to repair the chlorine leak, presumably caused by an operational accident in which one tank ruptured into another.


[to top of second column in this article]

The two who entered the building were wearing bright blue training suits simulating the Level A totally contained Tyvex suits needed in direct exposure to chlorine. Putting on the suits is a slow and cumbersome process because the firefighter must be careful not to damage the suit, according to Mark Miller, assistant chief of the Lincoln Fire Department. The suit is quite bulky because it must cover equipment such as the canister of purified air. In addition, all the firefighters moved deliberately so as not to waste air.

When the two entered the building, one reported that the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see his own hand. They then tried to enter through an attached shedlike structure but found that their key would not work. Finally by 10:10 they had entered the building and stopped the leak, shutting off the chlorine.


The Crisis Management Center resembles NASA Mission Control without the TV monitors. Seats are identified by title such as "CMC Assistant Manager" or "Coroner," and people are busy passing messages and conferring on issues. One question after the leak was fixed was how long to continue emergency procedures. Once the plume had passed and outside concentrations of chlorine were less than inside, people needed to open windows but still avoid basements because chlorine is heavier than air.

At 10:30 the Environmental Protection Agency found less than 1 part per million of chlorine in the air. By 10:52 water tested OK. At 11:07 roads were opened, and soon after, the Shelter in Place order was lifted. The scene was declared stable at 11:20, and city departments were finished and ready for other calls. Evacuees were released with written precautions from the Logan County Health Department for re-entering their homes. They were told to flush all faucets and clean all wet and damp surfaces before skin contact or ingestion. The boil order for water ended, and at 11:21 the exercise concluded.


In general, the approximately 40 participants who gathered for the wrap-up agreed that the hours of previous meetings had resulted in a successful operation. "I am very pleased with today’s exercise," Fulscher said, "and quite sure that in a real event everything will be done properly to ensure community safety." He said such exercises bring people together to discuss deficiencies and how to improve. Larry Adams, Montgomery County ESDA coordinator said also, "It is easier if you know the workings of other groups."

Fulscher emphasized the importance of having the mayor and county board chair participate. "It’s good that chief elected officials understand what a Crisis Management Center is," he said, because they play a pivotal role in decision-making.

One issue that came up repeatedly in the assessment was communication. One suggestion was to use common language such as saying the wind had shifted to the north-northwest instead of to 330 degrees. Warren Curry of the Logan County Sheriff’s Auxiliary said landmarks could also be used for directions. Another communication problem was cross-feeding of radio systems. Fulscher said communication would always be the biggest problem but that during several years of exercises it has been greatly improved.


Other recommendations included

—Setting up a central location for mapping information, such as ground elevations and locations of homebound people.

—Finding a few more ham radio operators.

—Purchasing compasses for fire engines and squad cars.

—Putting a warning diamond on the water plant fence to signal the chlorine danger.

—Using more field observers.

—Adding more volunteers to the disaster intelligence committee.

—Holding more "tabletop" exercises, limited to the Crisis Management Center. Evans said, "We know the firemen and police know how to do their job."

"Next year’s exercise will take off from the end of this one," Fulscher said. Keane elaborated that it could include such issues as directions to food handlers, verification that homes had been ventilated and long-term effects on victims. He praised the joint use of Logan and Macon County teams but said it would be good if the same work could be done simultaneously in both counties to prepare for a widespread disaster.

Keane was one of two exercise evaluators. Larry Adams, the LEPC observer, said his job was to ask, "Can Logan County implement their hazardous materials plan?" His answer was a strong yes.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Middletown chosen as site for Smithsonian exhibits next summer

[OCT. 2, 2001]  The Illinois Humanities Council and the Smithsonian of Washington, D.C. have honored the Knapp/Chesnut/Becker Historical Society of Middletown by choosing the library-museum as one of the six sites in Illinois for the June 23 to July 28, 2002, exhibits of "Yesterday’s Tomorrows."

[Helen helps again! Helen Smith Staats (at left) presents a check for $2,000 to Shelly Dobey, chair of the Smithsonian exhibits committee, and to Bill Post, president of the Knapp/Chesnut/Becker Historical Society, hosts of the June-July 2002 exhibits at the library-museum in Middletown.]

Besides all of the pies, quilts and monetary gifts she has given in the past, Helen Staats has given a $2,000 check, which enables the K/C/B Historical Society to meet the requirement of matching the $2,000 grant awarded by the co-sponsors of the displays.

Plans so far include special events, focusing on themes suggested by the Smithsonian, to be at the Middletown Park pavilion on six Sundays. June 23 will be Transportation Sunday; June 30, Home and Country Sunday; July 7, Technology Sunday; July 14, Culture Sunday; July 21, Health Sunday; and July 28, Spiritual Sunday.

Shelly Dobey chairs the steering committee of Mayor Ken Davison, Jackie Sullivan, Kathy Sommers, Bill Post and Winnie Golden.

All-you-can-eat turkey supper

The annual "all-you-can-eat" turkey supper sponsored by the K/C/B Historical Society is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Middle School in Middletown. This benefit is known for excellent food and historical displays.

[News release]

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Domestic abuse and violence awareness event Thursday evening

[OCT. 1, 2001]  Domestic violence hurts everyone. At a time when our country has been impacted by senseless violence and loss, we need to come together in a peaceful gathering and show of support for those in our own community being affected by violence every day.

In 2000 there were 147 reported incidents of domestic battery in Lincoln, according to a report compiled by the Lincoln Police Department. Sixty-three of these incidents occurred while children were present.

To increase community awareness of this problem, the Domestic Abuse and Violence Task Force of the Healthy Communities Partnership of Logan County is sponsoring its second annual candlelight procession and education event. The vigil and community gathering will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, on the sidewalk surrounding the Logan County Courthouse and will feature a candlelight walk around the courthouse.

In the courthouse rotunda Timothy Huyett, Logan County state’s attorney, will speak on the legal issues surrounding domestic violence and its impact on the Logan County community. Shelley Musser, Sojourn shelter and services specialist, will also give a presentation.




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The "Silent Witnesses" and "The Clothesline Project" will be displayed in the courthouse rotunda during the day of the event. The Silent Witnesses are silhouette figures of individuals who have died as a result of domestic violence. The victim’s story is displayed on a plaque on each silhouette. The Clothesline Project consists of shirts and sweatshirts designed by victims of domestic violence and their families. These shirts tell the victim’s story in her own words. Information on available community services will also be available in the courthouse rotunda.

Please join the Domestic Abuse and Violence Task Force for this event. For more information or to find out how you can join the task force, you may call Debby Cook, chairperson, at the Logan County Health Department, (217) 735-2317.

[News release]

Task force will seek solutions for nursing home funding problems

[SEPT. 29, 2001]  State Rep. Jonathan Wright, R-Hartsburg, will serve on the House Republican Long-Term Care Funding Task Force. Illinois House Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels announced the formation of a special task force last month. Their mission is to research possible solutions to a looming funding crisis in the state’s long-term care industry.

There are currently 85,000 seniors and disabled people living in Illinois nursing homes. Sixty-four percent of those rely on public assistance to help pay for their nursing home stays. Nursing homes are to be reimbursed by the state for the costs associated with providing care for these individuals. According to industry experts, in many cases, Illinois fails to provide adequate reimbursement for Medicaid residents. The reimbursement shortfall has forced numerous facilities to transfer the costs of doing business to their private-pay residents, or, increasingly, to file bankruptcy.

"I am looking forward to working on this important task force," Wright said, "Nursing home residents and their families deserve the very best we can provide. This industry is providing an invaluable service to thousands of Illinois families. State government must recognize that, and assure that the industry has the resources it needs to remain viable."

[News release]

Mock disaster exercise set for Saturday

[SEPT. 28, 2001]  Area emergency agencies will participate in a mock disaster exercise coordinated by Logan County ESDA and the Logan County LEPC on Saturday, Sept. 29. There will be a number of emergency agencies from throughout Logan County working together in response to a simulated hazardous materials leak at the Illinois American Water treatment plant.

Lincoln Police and Lincoln Fire Department will coordinate their response with the Logan County sheriff’s deputies and auxiliary, member departments of the Logan County Fire Protection Association, Logan County Paramedic Association, Logan County coroner’s office and the Logan County ESDA. The unified response will involve a simulated leak of chlorine gas from the water treatment facility at Jefferson Street and Lincoln Parkway.

The Logan County Crisis Management Center, located at the safety complex, will be fully staffed and operational. Strategic and policy decisions required for the event will be made by government officials and emergency services command staff located at the CMC.

Evaluators from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Emergency Response Commission will be at both sites to critique the operations.



[to top of second column in this article]

Citizens will be allowed to observe the exercise at a designated spectator area on North Jefferson Street. The exercise is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday and to be completed by 11:30 a.m. Please join us as your emergency services responders deal with the simulated emergency.


8 a.m. — Participants begin to assemble at the North Jefferson Street site and the Crisis Management Center

8:15 a.m. — Optional press briefing at the Logan County CMC, 911 Pekin St., Lincoln

9 a.m. — Exercise begins at the Illinois American Water facility, 1730 N. Jefferson St., Lincoln

11:30 a.m. — Exercise finishes

Noon — Luncheon at the Logan County CMC for participants in the exercise

[News release]

West side box culvert repair addressed

Letter from Burwells to Lincoln Council

[SEPT. 28, 2001]  The following letter from the Burwells regarding the repair of the box culvert on the west side of Lincoln was received by the mayor and the Lincoln City Council and was released to LDN by the city of Lincoln for publication.

[Unedited copy of letter]

September 14, 2001

Dear Mayor Davis and Lincoln City Council Members:

We write to clarify the mischaracterization of the position of Burwell family members regarding the repair of the box culvert on the west side of Lincoln. These misrepresentations were made by Greene & Bradford, Inc. representatives at the Tuesday, September 11, 2001 city council meeting.

The box culvert at issue was designed by Greene & Bradford, Inc. and constructed by R.A. Cullinan & Sons at the direction of Eric Burwell and Curt Burwell, then owners and developers of adjacent North Heitmann Park Addition lots. To be clear, the development on the north side of Route 10 has no relationship with Burwell Oil Service, Inc.

Greene & Bradford, Inc. maintains that it had an agreement with the former city engineer where the City of Lincoln would assume responsibility for the maintenance of the box culvert after completion. We cannot comment on the exact terms of this agreement because no member of the Burwell family was personally involved with these discussions. Instead, we were told by our agent, Green & Bradford, Inc., that the City would in fact take responsibility of the box culvert after its completion. Of course, this alleged agreement was never considered or formalized by the mayor or the city council. In other words and by its own admission at the council meeting, Greene and Bradford, Inc. did not complete the project it was hired to do. We learned of this incompletion only after the box culvert was damaged and the question of who should pay for the repairs surfaced

We do not believe that the City of Lincoln should pay for the repair of the damaged box culvert. The proper construction of the box culvert is, primarily, our responsibility and we assure you it will be completed. We firmly maintain that the damage is a result of Greene and Bradford’s negligence, and we have communicated this position to them on numerous occasions.

No member of the Burwell family authorized Greene & Bradford, Inc. to request any funding from the City of Lincoln at the September 11, 2001 city council meeting. Instead, we expressly told Mr. Jessen that we wanted him only to present the issue of whether the City would maintain a properly constructed drainage device, and we expressly told both he and Mr. Greene (on numerous occasions and in no uncertain terms) that we strongly felt Greene and Bradford, Inc. should pay for the entire new drainage device. To the extent Mr. Greene asked the City of Lincoln for any money to repair the box culvert on September 11, 2001, Mr. Greene was acting on behalf of his firm and not as a representative or agent of any member of the Burwell family


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We have refused to pay for the damage insisting that Greene & Bradford, Inc. should pay for the repair. We have refused Mr. Greene’s invitation to file a lawsuit against his firm to activate his errors and omissions insurance coverage. Also and contrary to a previous misrepresentation by Greene & Bradford, Inc., we have never discussed or even considered legal action against the City of Lincoln. Quite simply: we don't think the City has any fault here.

Greene & Bradford, Inc. has consistently maintained that fault should be placed on R.A. Cullinan and Sons, however we’ve seen no credible evidence suggesting any fault on Cullinan’s part. From every indication we have, the box culvert was constructed according to specifications

We're embarrassed by the suggestion that the City of Lincoln should pay for the box culvert because of past development in the city, Mr. Greene’s statements regarding what Gene Burwell may or may not have done for the city or community are irrelevant to this situation.

We do encourage the City of Lincoln to strongly consider taking control of the box culvert after its proper construction. We firmly believe that the City should maintain this drainage device to ensure its proper operation for many years. Properties are bought and sold, individuals and firms move or dissolve, and we feel the City of Lincoln is the most reliable and consistent entity that will ensure proper maintenance and operation of this important drainage device for many years into the future

Needless to say, we’re seriously troubled by the representations made purportedly on our behalf at the September 11, 2001 meeting. Please be advised that Greene and Bradford, Inc. did not represent any member of the Burwell family in this matter at the September 11, 2001 meeting. Should anyone wish to discuss this matter further, we invite your comments and questions.

Finally, we will take immediate steps to resolve this matter and construct the proper drainage device.





Spring construction date set for
Brainard Landing development

[SEPT. 27, 2001]  Construction of Phase 1 of Brainard Landing, an affordable apartment complex to be developed at 21st and State streets, may begin as early as March of next year, the Lincoln City Council learned Tuesday evening.

Thomas Koontz, senior vice president of PEDCOR, the Indianapolis firm which is building the complex, told the council that the company was allocated its tax credits a month ago and hopes to begin construction early next year. Phase 1 will include four of the eight planned housing units and the clubhouse, which will have fitness facilities, a computer center, a laundry and a playground. Cost of Phase 1 will be about $4.5 million.

The entire 56 units in the finished development will be rented to those at or below median income in the $18,000 to $36,000 range, depending on family size, Koontz said. The rental units will accept Section 8 housing vouchers.

When completed, the complex will have 16 one-bedroom, one-bath units; 24 two-bedroom, two-bath units; and 16 three-bedroom, two-bath units. Each will be equipped with refrigerator-freezers, electric stoves with self-cleaning ovens, dishwashers, garbage disposals, washer-dryer hookups, window blinds, central heating and air conditioning, and carpeting. Each unit will also have a private balcony or patio and a storage area, according to a PEDCOR handout.

Although wall units may be pre-panelized, the units are not prefabricated, according to Koontz. The units will be on concrete slabs, and no carports or garages are planned.


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The facility will have three to four full-time employees, a full-time manager on the site, a leasing agent and a maintenance staff, and will use local contractors whenever possible, Koontz told the council. Staff will be hired 60 days ahead of time and trained at other PEDCOR facilities.

Koontz said he has already had requests for about one-half of the units. According to Mary Elston of Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation, CIEDC’s yearly community needs assessment shows that low to moderate income rental units have always been a high priority.

PEDCOR specializes in building affordable housing by taking advantage of income tax credits that allow it to get financing at a lower interest rate, according to development assistant Kitty Campbell. The company presently has 6,000 units in Midwestern states and manages all its own units, she said.

[Joan Crabb]


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