No decision yet on LDC lawsuit

[FEB. 21, 2002]  No decision has yet been made on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Gov. George Ryan to prevent him from closing Lincoln Developmental Center during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

At a hearing Wednesday at the Logan County Courthouse, Judge Don Behle heard arguments from attorneys for both sides but said he did not feel comfortable "reaching a ruling at this moment."

He said he would make the decision and inform the attorneys after he has reviewed all the documents.

Steve Yokich, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said he was not surprised by the delay. "This was all done on an expedited basis," he explained. The briefs were filed so recently that Judge Behle probably had not had time to read all of them.

The plaintiffs include AFSCME Council 31; Norlan and Eleanor Newmister, parents of an LDC resident; state Sen. Larry Bomke of Springfield; and Don Todd, president of AFSCME Local 425.

Defendants are Gov. Ryan, Illinois Department of Human Services Director Linda Renee Baker, state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and state Comptroller Daniel Hynes.

The plaintiffs contend that the governor does not have the right to withhold the money that has already been appropriated to keep LDC running until the end of the fiscal year. They also contend that it is against the law to reduce the number of beds at LDC without a permit from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. The Department of Human Services should have gotten permits before transferring any of the residents out of LDC, but no such permit was issued.

Gov. Ryan has already moved about 130 LDC residents to other facilities, and his latest plan calls for moving out another 159 residents, leaving only 100 still at LDN. The plan also calls for cutting the staff, which six months ago was about 700 employees, to about 200.

Karen McNaught, representing the state, said there was no authority for the proposition that once money is appropriated it must be spent. She said the law does not mandate the entire amount appropriated must be spent, and the decision on spending rests with the agency in question.

Yokich said he has never argued that all money appropriated must be spent, but that it is not up to the executive to "unilaterally have the authority to determine when and how the money is to be used."

"Are the operations at LDC being cut in order to save money (which we believe) or for other reasons?" he asked.

[to top of second column in this article]

Yokich and McNaught cited statutes and case law regarding the matter of the permits.

McNaught said that when transferring residents, the Department of Human Services relied on the legal department of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board for the opinion that no permit was required. She also said the state has not conceded that LDC is a health care facility and falls under the requirements of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

She also conceded that if the DHS was going to close LDC, they would have to get a permit, but because there is no discontinuation of services, no permits are required.

Yokich said the Health Facilities Planning Act is being violated because the governor’s plan is fundamentally changing the scope and operation of LDC. He said that as he interprets the statute, permits are required if the facility cuts more than 10 beds or more than 10 percent of its beds.

If LDC downsizes, he said, "Employees, families and residents have to make choices. They deserve to know whether the statute is being complied with."

Before closing the hearing, Judge Behle asked several questions of the two attorneys. He asked Yokich if he agreed the governor has the authority to close LDC. Yokich replied that he does, if the proper procedures are followed. The judge also asked what benefit Yokich’s clients would have if the DHS were to comply with the health care act and seek permits.

Yokich replied that public hearings would have to be held and parents and guardians, as well as employees, would have a chance to take their case before the public.

"People can come to the agency and say, ‘This is a bad idea.’"

Attending the hearing were members of the Lincoln Parents Association as well as a representative from AFSCME.

[Joan Crabb]

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City contract negotiations
start next week

[FEB. 21, 2002]  At a recent committee-of-the-whole meeting of the Lincoln City Council, Mayor Beth Davis named the members of the committees that will negotiate with the four unions that represent city of Lincoln employees. Contract negotiations will begin the week of Feb. 25.

Negotiating with the Operating Engineers, Clerical, will be Alderman Glenn Shelton, the mayor and city attorney Bill Bates. Negotiating with Operating Engineers, Streets and Alleys, will be Alderman George Mitchell, chairman of the streets and alleys committee, along with the mayor and Bates.

Alderman Verl Prather, chair of the police committee, will negotiate with the Police Department union, along with Bates and the mayor. Alderman Benny Huskins, chair of the fire and ESDA committee, will be on the team with Bates and the mayor to negotiate with the Fire Department’s union.

The insurance committee met before the regular meeting for preliminary discussions with the city’s insurance carrier, R.W. Garrett Agency of Lincoln. Roger Garrett outlined several types of proposals and will meet with the committee again soon to present more specific plans.

Providing health insurance is becoming more expensive, and the city will be considering ways to keep costs down, including co-payments by employees.

"We are going to have to make some hard decisions. We are going to have to ask employees to take more responsibility," said Shelton, who is chair of the insurance committee.

Bill Melton, chair of the sewer committee, said there is an ongoing problem getting some delinquent homeowners to pay their sewer bills. These users cannot be cut off, because they are on a double hookup and cutting them off would penalize a user who is paying the bills.


[to top of second column in this article]

At present, those on single hookups who are behind in payments will have the sewer line dug up and disconnected, which then means, unless service is restored, they will have to move out of the home because it is not in a livable condition.

This doesn’t happen often, according to City Clerk Juanita Josserand. Sewer users may ignore the notices they receive, she said, but "when they see the red mark in the yard, they fly in and pay the bill."

Grant Eaton, sewer plant manager, said he has had to dig up only two or three sewer lines. "We’ll give them a last-minute chance to pay before we drop the blade, but if they don’t pay, we’ll dig them," he said.

Josserand said one customer owes $2,600 on a sewer bill but can’t be cut off, because he is on a combined sewer system and the other customer is paid up.

Verl Prather pointed out that if the city were billing for sewer use by the amount of water used, delinquent users could have the water shut off, a much easier procedure than digging up a sewer.

Alderman Steve Fuhrer, chair of the finance committee, said the first budget meeting will be on Saturday, March 16, at 9 a.m. He asked department heads to have budget requests in by March 8. The city’s fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30.

[Joan Crabb]

Lawmakers get governor’s budget plan

[FEB. 21, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Gov. George Ryan’s proposed FY2003 state budget of $52.8 billion is a good starting point, but much debate and discussion remains before a final plan is approved in late spring, according to Sen. Claude Stone.

"The budget won’t be finalized for several more months, but the governor’s plan is a good start," said Stone. "We are in a very tight fiscal year because of lower than anticipated revenues and higher than anticipated costs. I commend the governor for resisting pressures and temptations to raise taxes to solve the financial problems. Raising taxes is not the answer. Government must tighten its belt and do with less."

The governor predicts $500 million of revenue growth over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. He is calling for a reduction of about 3,800 state jobs, mostly through attrition and retirement, although some layoffs may be necessary.

Under the Ryan budget plan, education remains the top priority.

"Under the governor’s plan, elementary and secondary education would see a $245 million increase in the base funding level for public education and work-force training," said Stone. "He’s also proposing increases to higher education, bringing the state’s total commitment to public education to $11.4 billion."

Other provisions in the budget proposal include:


•  No tax increases.

•  $35 million for continued funding of Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit, the EITC.

•  $60 million for continued funding of the state’s Education Assistance Tax Credit.

•  Implementation of a tax amnesty program to generate $35 million.

Public safety

•  $383 million for the Department of State Police, with funding for 100 new officers.

•  Allocation of $143.5 million in federal funds for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to create an Urban Search and Rescue Team for preparations to respond to acts of terrorism involving chemical, biological agents or explosive devices and responses to natural disasters.

•  $1.3 billion for Illinois’ Department of Corrections, funding 2,677 new prison beds in the current fiscal year and 2,160 new prison beds for FY2003.

•  Closure of the Vienna Correctional Center in Vienna and the Illinois Youth Center in Valley View, with their respective populations transferred to other state facilities.

Health and human services

•  $102 million for SeniorCare, an expanded version of the state’s Circuit Breaker and Pharmaceutical Assistance program for low-income elderly and people with disabilities.



[to top of second column in this article]

•  $4.9 billion for the Department of Human Services to support health and social service programs to help families continue to move from welfare to work.

•  Continued funding for subsidized child care and funding to maintain the state’s commitment to substance-abuse prevention and intervention programs.

•  $4 million for the Illinois Workforce Advantage program to assist disadvantaged and economically depressed areas of the state.

•  The Department of Human Services will downsize state mental health centers in Rockford and Elgin and close the center in Peoria. Residents will be moved to other facilities.

•  Funding for 310 new community-integrated living arrangements.

•  $331.6 million allocation and $118.4 million in general revenue funding for the Department of Public Health to continue overseeing and promoting health care.

Natural resources and environmental protection

•  $40 million for Illinois Open Land Trust, which preserves land for public use.

•  $11.7 million for the Conservation 2000 program to preserve and enhance wildlife habitats, and to increase recreational facilities.

•  $12 million in state funds for Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Walter Pollution Control Revolving Fund program to help local governments install and improve sewer and wastewater treatment facilities.

•  Continued funding for Agri-FIRST, a statewide program to help farmers and agricultural producers add value to Illinois crops through innovative strategies and new products.

Economic development

•  $12 million increase for the state’s Department of Commerce and Community Affairs "Prime Sites" program, which provides assistance to economic development sites and helps create or retain jobs.

•  Continued funding for the "Economic Development for a Growing Economy" tax credit, commonly known as the EDGE program.

•  Continued funding to clean up and rehabilitate polluted urban industrial sites.

The budget outlined by the governor before the House and Senate Wednesday is for the 2003 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

[News release]


City approves paperwork
for sewer plant loan

[FEB. 20, 2002]  The Lincoln City Council moved quickly Tuesday night to approve the paperwork for the $12 million loan that will allow the city to make the necessary upgrades to its sewer plant.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance and a resolution to borrow up to $12 million from the Water Pollution Control Loan program, but several members questioned the ordinance asking them to buy national flood insurance on all structures at the sewer plant.

"This comes as a surprise to me," said Glenn Shelton, chairman of the committee on insurance. Shelton and others said they would like a chance to study the flood insurance policy and get figures on prices.

However, when sewer plant manager Grant Eaton told the council that all documents, including the resolution of intent to buy flood insurance, were due in Springfield the next day, council members agreed to the flood insurance provision.

The last paperwork must be at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency today (Feb. 20), if the city is to get the loan money this year, Eaton said.

Eaton said he would hand carry the signed documents to Springfield to be sure all deadlines are met. The city will know if the 20-year 2.68 percent loan is approved by March 31. In the meantime, the city can go out for bids so final bids can be approved when the funding is secure.

The loan authorization includes a "back door referendum" provision, which means after the loan ordinance is published, if enough residents object and sign a petition, the city must take the project to the public as a referendum.

Eaton said he was optimistic about getting the money this year.

"We’re at the top of the list now," he said. He hopes to see construction start sometime in May and estimates it will take about 18 months to be completed.

If the loan approval doesn’t come by March 31, Lincoln will have to wait until October of this year or even January of 2003 — delays that will result in increased costs, according to Environmental Management Corporation, which manages the sewer plant.

The plant upgrade is necessary, EMC officials say, because the existing plant has reached capacity, and violations would mean the IEPA could refuse to approve any new hookups, thus stopping growth in the city.


[to top of second column in this article]

To assure the IEPA that the city can repay the loan, the city has raised sewer rates in a two-step program. As of Jan. 1, 2002, rates for residential users went from $11 per month to $14, and rates for commercial, industrial and institutional users have also risen. The second tier of rate increases, to go into effect 18 months later, would raise rates for all users again, bringing residential rates to $16.39.

Eaton said he is seeking state and federal grants to help pay the costs and keep the final sewer rates as low as possible. The entire cost of the plant is estimated at $9.8 million, but having the $12 million loan "blocked out" for the city gives it a "comfort zone." Eaton is working on applications for two grants now, one from Illinois Green for $125,000 and one from the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs for $400,000.

In other business, the council denied the request of the Lincoln Christian Church to pave over the city sidewalk and up to the curb when it upgrades its parking lot.

"I can’t in clear conscience ask the city to do this," said Dave Armbrust, chairman of the Sidewalks, Forestry and Lighting Committee. "We would be giving up our sidewalk and giving up the buffer zone to the street."

The council specified that all construction in the parking area must be limited to the parking lot area, and the new sidewalk, to be installed at the church’s expense, must be a separate pour. The grassy area between the sidewalk and the street must also be preserved.

Mayor Beth Davis announced the appointment of Jim Drew to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which was unanimously approved by the council. The ZBA is now fully staffed, she said.

Davis also announced that she is receiving complaints about political signs on city property and asked that those who put up these signs move them to private property.

[Joan Crabb]

County purchases ambulance
and backhoe

[FEB. 20, 2002]  In a shorter than usual voting session Tuesday night, the Logan County Board committed to nearly $163,000 in purchases, including a new ambulance and backhoe.

With no negative votes, the board approved four expenditures:

•  $88,278 to Foster Coach Sales of Sterling for a 2002 Medtech ambulance and cot. A $9,500 trade-in for the old ambulance is part of the bid. Board member Clifford "Sonny" Sullivan abstained from voting because he is a member of the Paramedics Association board.

•  $58,212 to Machinery, Inc., of Springfield for a backhoe to be used by the county highway department.

•  Time and materials to Ozyurt & Stone of Springfield for scour repair on the Waynesville bridge. The work is expected to cost about $10,000.

•  $6,239 to Springfield Overhead Doors for garage doors on the highway department maintenance building. The bid includes removal of the old doors, installation and push-button openers for the new doors.

Finance Committee chair Rod White reported that investments in the state pool are earning only 1½-2 percent interest. County Treasurer Mary Bruns is seeking other investment opportunities with a higher interest rate.

White also said that the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which has earned up to 20 percent or more in recent years, made only 1.87 percent in 2001 and is projected to lose 6.7 percent in 2002. As a result, the county will have to pay more into the fund, but how much will not be known until April.


[to top of second column in this article]

Roger Bock, a Finance Committee member, praised county officials for keeping within their budgets. The one exception is that 40 percent of the sheriff’s deputy overtime budget has already been spent. Bock said this problem, which involves radio operators, is being addressed.

Representatives of Edward Jones investment banking firm had made a presentation on bonding to the Finance Committee. White said there are no current plans to issue bonds, but board members are looking at possibilities so they will be prepared should the need arise.

Bock, who chairs the Airport Committee, reported that the communication tower next to the newest hanger had suffered wind damage and had been removed to protect the building. Insurance is expected to cover the cost of the tower.

The county will have an open house from 1 to 3 p.m., Sunday, March 3, to showcase the new Dr. John Logan County Building and improvements to the Logan County Courthouse. Refreshments will be served in the courthouse rotunda.

Board chairman Dick Logan read a letter from Rod White indicating his intention to retire in December at the end of his current term. White has served on the county board for 20 years.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]


Gov. Ryan previews education
goals in budget message

Creates ‘Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education’

[FEB. 20, 2002]  DECATUR — Gov. George Ryan announced Monday that he will propose a dramatic change in school funding that will increase the state’s foundation level to almost $5,000 per student — a record level — and keep his pledge of devoting 51 percent of new state revenues to education and work-force training..

The governor’s remarks were made at George Washington Elementary School in Decatur during a preview of his education agenda and budget message.

By executive order Gov. Ryan also announced a 10-point plan, the "Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education," to ensure Illinois is meeting the Bush administration’s priorities in the "No Child Left Behind" education reform act, better support teacher recruitment and retention efforts, and increase accountability for teachers and schools.

Gov. Ryan’s Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education builds on the previous accomplishments in education and work-force training. It focuses on developing "Illinois Preschool," orders the development of a new plan for annual testing and student accountability programs, creates a strategy to set accountability standards to close learning gaps for disadvantaged students, and recommits Illinois to better career development for educators.

It’s no secret that the state budget for next year is going to present us with many, many tough challenges because of the economic downturn this nation experienced after the tragedy of Sept. 11th," said Gov. Ryan. "Despite the recession our country is facing, these problems will not stop me from making our children the state’s top priority."

Gov. Ryan proposes to increase the foundation-level funding for fiscal year 2003 by more than $400, bringing the total to almost $5,000. Funding for this increase could be available by eliminating 22 current grant programs in the State Board of Education and giving that money directly to the school districts. Since 1999, the foundation level has increased by $335 dollars per student. The general state aid will be increased to almost $3.7 billion, representing an increase of $500 million in FY 2003.


[to top of second column in this article]

"This gives Decatur and all other school districts the flexibility to determine how bureaucrats can best meet the needs of their students," said Gov. Ryan.

Universal access to early childhood education, or "Illinois Preschool," will also receive $6 million in funding under the governor’s FY 03 proposal. A new Illinois Preschool Council will develop the implementation framework for universal access by January and will study how every community in the state can offer high-quality preschool in settings like child-care centers, family child-care homes, schools, Head Start programs and community centers.

A new $5,000 Illinois Teacher Education Assistance Campaign, or I-TEACH, will be created out of existing grant programs at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. I-TEACH will provide scholarships for students studying to become teachers in subject areas where there is a shortage of teachers, like math or science.

"With the Illinois Agenda for Excellence in Education and my budget recommendations for the coming year, this state will greatly strengthen our commitment to education," said Gov. Ryan. "I believe passionately that we must work together on this agenda and that we must remain true to our commitment to education."

[Illinois Government News Network]

LDC, best home for one resident

[FEB. 19, 2002]  The prospect of downsizing the Lincoln Developmental Center is an ongoing nightmare for Linda and Pat Brown of LeRoy, parents of a 27-year-old son for whom LDC is home.

"Our son, Jeff, has been a LDC a little over 4½ years, and he’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him," Linda says.

Although many advocates for the developmentally disabled would like to see their clients in small-group, community-integrated living units known as CILAs, such a setting didn’t work for Jeff, Linda says. Jeff is in the severe to profound disability range; he doesn’t understand any type of danger, and he doesn’t like change.

[AFSCME Union 425 President Don Todd discusses the governor’s planned LDC resident transfers with parents Linda and Pat Brown of LeRoy.  Concerned for their son's well-being and that of other LDC residents, the Browns attended the legislative hearing in Springfield last Wednesday.]

"He needs structure," says his mother. "He was in a community setting for 12 years. The MARC center in Bloomington did the best they could with the resources they had, but Jeff didn’t do well there. He couldn’t deal with the frequent changes in staff. He couldn’t cope and he had behavior problems."

Later he was put in an apartment in downtown Bloomington with one-on-one supervision, but that didn’t work either. He had no activities, his father recalls; he just sat there looking at four walls. One night, he got out and was found running in the middle of a downtown street.

At last the family and the MARC center agreed that they could do no more for Jeff. He was sent to BroMenn Hospital for a few days, and then to Lincoln.

"We had had it drummed into us that state-operated facilities were not adequate placement," Pat Brown says. But as there seemed to be no other alternative, Linda visited LDC and came away impressed.

"I had always thought institutions were horrible, but I went to LDC and was impressed with the setting and the living arrangements, and especially with the compassion the staff had for me and for Jeff. I had never experienced that much compassion," she reports.

When Jeff left BroMenn, he was on six medications to control his behavior, says his father. "He went to LDC and in a short time they turned him around. He was soon on only one medication, to control seizures. He absolutely loves it there. We used to have to fight him to get him to go to the MARC center, but now he wants to go back to LDC. He likes to come home, but when he gets here he soon wants to go back to Lincoln. The LDC staff love him. They say he’s easy to manage."


[to top of second column in this article]

One reason Jeff likes LDC is that he has plenty of activities. He’s in a work program at Logan Mason Rehabilitation Center and he loves going to work, his mother reports. He goes on outings, he’s in Special Olympics, and he plays basketball on the LDC courts.

"Jeff is happier at LDC than he’s ever been. He now has friends. His friends and the staff are his family," Linda says.

"Now we’re faced with the governor wanting to move 150 residents, and there is no place for Jeff to go. They had trouble finding placements for the first group they sent out. The governor’s decision is turning everybody’s life upside down," she continues.

Linda and Pat are co-presidents of the LDC parents group, which has recently grown to 250 members.

Pat thinks the move toward putting the developmentally disabled in small group homes is the way of the future. "It’s the train that’s going down the track that they want us all to get on," he says.

"If the state is moving toward small group homes, why won’t they oversee the community facilities as they do the state-operated ones? The state needs to provide community homes with the funding and experienced staff to care for our loved ones, as they do in Lincoln," he continues.

"Our number one consideration is to have properly trained, properly compensated staff who can take all the abuse — the slaps, the pinches, the vomiting — that comes with caring for the profoundly handicapped. They need to pay staff a living wage, not $6, $7, or $8 an hour," he continues.

"I said at our last parents’ meeting, ‘At LDC we have Cadillac services and at community-based homes we have Yugo services.’ This is because of the state funding. Should we throw these very good services into disarray? Why not give them all at least Ford or Chevy services?

"If the same criteria and the same review process were used in community-based homes, they would not pass muster. They would not pass the stringent requirements that LDC is held to.

"The bottom line is you’ve got to have day-to-day, well-compensated, highly trained employees who will stay in the profession long term. And this costs money. Otherwise we’re going to have a catastrophe in our delivery system of services for the developmentally disabled.

"We hope the legislature will intervene and provide the funding for LDC to continue to operate at the level it is at right now."

[Joan Crabb]

LCCS athletic facility dedication planned

[FEB. 18, 2002]  Lincoln Christian College and Seminary has set the dedication ceremony for the new Laughlin Center at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 23. Olympic medalist Jean Driscoll is the guest speaker.

[Laughlin Center; photo by Bob Frank]

The new athletic facility includes a 30,000-square-foot gymnasium that features seating for 1,000 people, training and locker rooms, office space, and a weight room and athletic equipment, as well as additional parking and landscaping.


[Thomas A. Gaston Arena in the Laughlin Center;
photo by Bob Frank]

Dedication events include ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Laughlin Center and the Thomas A. Gaston Arena. A reception, along with tours of the facility, will follow the presentation by Ms. Driscoll. The dedication will conclude with the first men’s and women’s basketball games in the new facility.

The athletic facility is part of the multimillion dollar renovation sweeping the LCCS campus. P.J. Hoerr of Normal constructed the facility. The public is invited to attend this momentous occasion.

Dedication events

10 a.m. — Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Laughlin Center

10:15 a.m. — Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Thomas A. Gaston Arena; remarks and recognition of special guests

10:30 a.m. — Guest speaker: Olympic medalist Jean Driscoll

11:30 a.m. — Reception and tours

1 p.m. — Women’s basketball game: Lincoln Christian College vs. Emmaus Bible College

3 p.m. — Men’s basketball game: Lincoln Christian College vs. Emmaus Bible College


[to top of second column in this article]

Guest speaker Jean Driscoll

Jean Driscoll is an accomplished athlete and speaker who is known around the world. She won silver medals in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. She has won the Boston Marathon eight times and is the only person in the marathon’s 105-year history to achieve that feat.

Ms. Driscoll earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a master’s in rehabilitation administration from the University of Illinois. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Rhode Island.


[Jean Driscoll; photo provided by LCCS]

Additional accomplishments

•  1991 Women’s Sports Foundation Amateur Sportswoman of the Year

•  1992 USA Track and Field Disabled Female Athlete of the Year

•  1992, 1996 Wheelchair Sports U.S.A. Female Athlete of the Year

•  1996 Illinois Fellowship of Christian Athletes Champion in Christ Award

•  1997 Athletes International Ministries Female Athlete of the Year

•  No. 25 on Sports Illustrated "Top 100 Female Athletes of the 20th Century"

•  Illinois Fellowship of Christian Athletes state board, 1995-present

•  Wheelchair Sports U.S.A. member, 1987-2000

•  Author, "Determined to Win," 2000 biography about Jean’s life

Television appearance highlights

•  Commentator during Boston Marathon, April 2001

•  "CBS Sports Spectacular," December 2000

•  "Good Morning America," April 1996

•  "ABC Nightline," April 1996

•  "The Today Show," August 1996

•  "Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder," April 1995

[LCCS news release]

‘Prime bank’ scams on the rise,
Secretary of State Jesse White warns

[FEB. 16, 2002]  SRINGFIELD –– Secretary of State Jesse White warned Tuesday that losses from "prime bank" scams are rising dramatically. Last year, one source reported losses at more than $1.5 billion.

Low interest rates and volatile equity markets have caused many Americans to rethink their investment strategies, often turning to investments with the promise of high yield returns. Promoters of the "prime bank" trading programs tell investors that they can yield huge returns with no risk. In reality, neither prime banks nor the instruments they claim to trade exist.

"People want to believe there are secret ways to make fabulous amounts of money," said White. "But there are no shortcuts in investing. Simply put, prime banks don’t exist."

In Illinois, Omega Trust and Trading Ltd. promised 50-to-1 returns on investments in "prime bank notes." Secretary of State Securities Department investigators assisted in uncovering a scam that had resulted in more than $18 million defrauded from investors worldwide. Nineteen people were indicted and all defendants either pleaded guilty or were found guilty after trial.

In another case of investment fraud, Lynda Frykholm of Rockford was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she was found guilty of defrauding 220 investors from all over the United States.

Prime bank scam artists come from all backgrounds and use their ill-gotten gains to maintain lavish lifestyles. In the Omega case, the company’s founder, Clyde Hood, was a 66-year-old electrician in Mattoon. Money from investors was used to pay for dozens of classic automobiles. Frykholm used swindled money to purchase two vacation homes in Lake Geneva, Wis., four cars, a speedboat and several trips to Switzerland.


[to top of second column in this article]

Before making any investment, Secretary White urges investors to ask the following questions:

•  Has the seller given you written information that fully explains the investment? Make sure you get proper written information, such as a prospectus or offering circular. The documentation should contain enough clear and accurate information to allow you or your financial adviser to evaluate and verify the particulars of the investment.

•  Are claims made for the investment realistic? Some things really are too good to be true. Use common sense and get a professional, third-party opinion when presented with investment opportunities that seem to offer unusually high returns. Pie-in-the-sky promises often signal investment fraud.

•  Does the investment meet your personal investment goals? Whether you are investing for long-term growth, investment income or other reasons, an investment should match your own investment goals.

•  Are the seller and investment licensed and registered? Call the Illinois Securities Department to find out. If they aren’t registered, they may be operating illegally. Contact the department toll free at (800) 628-7937 or go to this address on the secretary of state website:

[News release from the Illinois secretary of state]


County agrees to buy equipment and showcase building improvements

[FEB. 15, 2002]  In a largely routine work session a month before the primary election, the 13 Logan County Board members agreed on almost everything, including spending about $163,000 for equipment and bridge repairs, and announced an open house to showcase new and improved county offices.

The open house, set for Sunday, March 3, from 3 to 5 p.m., will feature the new Dr. John Logan County Building and the many newly refurbished offices in the Logan County Courthouse. Though most offices were completed several months ago, State’s Attorney Tim Huyett is just moving into his office on Friday, Feb. 15. Last of all, at the end of February, the law library will be moved to the Sojourn room. During the open house, refreshments will be served in the courthouse rotunda.

In the Thursday night meeting conducted by vice chairman Lloyd Hellman, board members agreed with their Law Enforcement Committee to choose the higher of two bids for a new ambulance. Foster Coach Sales of Sterling bid $95,428 for a 2002 model Medtech, almost $5,500 higher than the bid of Wheeled Coach Industries of Walnut. However, the Foster Coach bid includes a higher trade-in allowance for the old ambulance, a 2002 model vs. a 2001, and a fully equipped and staffed service department. In addition, Steve Siltman of Logan County Paramedics Association indicated at a committee meeting that the Medtec ambulance offers better craftsmanship and greater structural integrity.

In an amendment to the motion to purchase the vehicle, the board also favored spending an additional $2,350 for a new cot for the ambulance. The final figure is $88,278 after the $9,500 trade-in is deducted. Foster Coach plans to sell the old ambulance to the Lincoln Rural Fire Department for the same figure, $9,500. Board member Clifford "Sonny" Sullivan abstained from voting because he is a member of the Paramedics Association board.

In a different bidding situation, the Road and Bridge Committee recommended accepting the low of eight bids for a backhoe. The $58,212 backhoe from Machinery, Inc., of Springfield is expected to be the only major purchase for roadwork during 2002.

At the request of County Engineer Tom Hickman, the Road and Bridge Committee has also approved a contract with Ozyurt & Stone of Springfield for scour repair on the Waynesville bridge. Hickman said the stream has shifted about 60 feet, causing the scour problem. Because of uncertainty about what exactly will be needed, the contract does not specify a maximum amount, but the work is expected to cost about $10,000.

A third purchase approved by the Road and Bridge Committee is $6,239 for new garage doors for the shop at 529 S. McLean. For that figure Springfield Overhead Doors will provide and install two new doors and openers plus remove the old doors. Board members made no objections to these purchases, and it appeared that they will be approved at the voting session on Tuesday.


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On the plus side of the ledger, Lincoln-Logan Emergency Services-Disaster Agency has received a $15,000 grant to fight terrorism. Law Enforcement and ESDA Committee chair Doug Dutz indicated that the Lincoln Police and Fire departments will use the bulk of the grant to buy gas masks and self-contained breathing apparatus.

In other business, cat traps were again on the county board agenda. Animal Control Committee chair Sullivan said five new traps are being purchased at a cost of $45 each. There is a $25 deposit charged to citizens while they use the traps.

Animal control warden Sheila Farmer has proposed an animal adoption fair and also a cat spay-and-neuter day for lower-income people in the community. The two are related, Sullivan said, because animals cannot be adopted until they are neutered, and some people cannot afford neutering fees.

Airport Committee chair Roger Bock announced a Feb. 26 meeting to discuss plans for a golf course on airport and adjacent grounds. Tom Stanford, a private golf course developer, will meet with representatives of the county board, Lincoln Park District, Lincoln Christian College and with Economic Development Director Mark Smith.

Bock also said that the credit card-operated fuel pump at Logan County Airport is still not operational. The pump is installed but is not yet set up to accept credit cards.

The one area of disagreement that surfaced during the board of the whole meeting concerned an item in Dave Hepler’s Planning and Zoning Committee report. A motion by board chairman Dick Logan to handle country homes rezoning requests one lot at a time failed in committee. Hepler said he thinks treating each lot individually would streamline the rezoning process because it would avoid debates about multiple lots.

Board member Terry "TJ" Werth said he opposes the idea because he is concerned that individual lot buyers would be identified and become an issue. He also noted that such questions are being considered in the review of the county zoning ordinance being conducted by a committee chaired by Phil Mahler, director of the Logan County Regional Planning Commission.

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]


Military addresses sought

It is a year like no other. Since Sept. 11 we are a changed nation. Individually, our daily sensitivity toward whom and what we have in our lives has been heightened. We are more conscious and appreciative, first about those we love and see everyday. Next, we have a newfound appreciation for those who risk their lives every day as rescue workers and protectors of life and property in our communities. We also now think more about our military men and women who are committed to serve and protect our country. Many are away engaged in battle, some are in waiting to go, all are ready to lay their lives on the line in defense of our freedom.

Lincoln Daily News is seeking the names and addresses, including e-mail addresses, of friends and relatives who are serving in the armed forces. They need not be from here in Logan County. If you know someone serving, please send the information to A complete list will be made available and kept updated through the site so we might all hold them in our thoughts, prayers and well wishes.

[Click here for names available now.]

Name of person in military:

Branch of service:

Current location of service:

Postal address:

E-mail address:

Relationship to LDN reader sending information (optional):


Are we prepared for terrorism
in Logan County?

It’s on the radio, TV, in all the media. You hear it in the office, on the street and maybe at home — threats of terrorism. America is on high alert. Here in central Illinois, away from any supposed practical target areas, perhaps we feel a little less threatened, but we are still concerned. So how concerned should we be, and how prepared are we for the types of situations that could occur?

Whether the threat is domestic or foreign, violent, biological or chemical, our public health and rescue agencies have been preparing to respond to the situations. Lincoln Daily News has been at meetings where all the agencies gather together as the Logan County Emergency Planning Committee to strategize for just such a time. Our reports have not even provided every detail that every agency has reported; i.e., a number of representatives from differing agencies such as the health and fire departments, CILCO and ESDA went to a bioterrorism and hazmat (hazardous materials) seminar this past August.

Here are some of the articles that LDN has posted pre- and post-Tuesday, Sept. 11. Hopefully you will see in them that WE ARE WELL PREPARED. At least as much as any area can be. Every agency has been planning, training, submitting for grants to buy equipment long before Sept. 11. We can be thankful for all of the dedicated, insightful leaders we have in this community.


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America strikes back

As promised, the United States led an attack on Afghanistan. The attack began Sunday, Oct. 7. American and British military forces made 30 hits on air defenses, military airfields and terrorist training camps, destroying aircraft and radar systems. The strike was made targeting only terrorists.

More than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East have pledged their cooperation and support the U.S. initiative.

Online news links

Other countries









Saudi Arabia 


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United States


New York

Stars and Stripes
(serving the U.S. military community) 

Washington, D.C.


More newspaper links 


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