Crime Stoppers donates
funds for new ERT vest

[JUNE 8, 2002]  It was a good day when Lincoln/Logan County Crime Stoppers President Ron Hall made a $1,500 check presentation to Officer Tim Butterfield. The check presentation took place at the Logan County Bank. The funds will purchase the fourth heavy-entry tactical weapons vest. These vests are being used by the newly formed emergency response team. "This is definitely going to help the team out," said Butterfield.

A little ERT history

When Beth Davis began her tenure as mayor, she didn’t like it that in the event of certain types of emergencies, it would take a minimum of 2˝ hours for a state SWAT team to make it to Lincoln. She recognized that it was too much time and that it would someday possibly cost lives.

Mayor Davis recalled: "When I first became mayor and interviewed the police chief candidates, I asked them what they thought of establishing an emergency response team (ERT) for emergency situations. They all were very excited about it."

She told them that if we had a "Columbine incident," she wanted at least six police officers on our force to be trained to go into one of the city’s schools (or wherever this nightmare occurred — hopefully it will never happen) on short notice and be able to handle an infrared rifle to keep students, teachers, etc. from becoming harmed further or killed.

Mayor Davis got a nice surprise when she asked for six volunteers and 16 responded.
"We now have a wonderfully skilled and professional ERTeam," she said. "They have been trained in negotiations, munitions, infrared equipment and rifles, etc."

In the middle of April the team members had their first real test when they responded to a suicide attempt that threatened the destruction of a whole neighborhood. What could have ended tragically had the best of all possible outcomes when everyone was able to walk away safely. "I am very proud of them!" said Mayor Davis.

The emergency response team was formed 1˝ years ago. It is currently composed of eight members. They are on call at any given moment of the day, but otherwise they go about their other daily assigned duties.

 

The Lincoln team was called out to assist the Central Illinois Enforcement Group on a methamphetamine lab raid in November. "This team has already closed down six meth labs in the city and has performed well," said Mayor Davis. The sting provided training opportunity as well as assisting in an important drug control operation.

Collaborating with other agencies will be a continued benefit to our community. It increases our ability to call upon other agencies to come here and assist us with more complicated operations like stings.

All members on the ERT team at this time are members of the Lincoln Police Department. They were trained and certified through outside agencies. Eventually they hope to train all members of the Lincoln Police Department in emergency response procedures so that everyone understands what is taking place during an incident, but the team will still remain a core of eight. Butterfield says that ideally a 35-member team is recommended for the types of situations that they are called out on. However, it would be necessary to recruit from outside the Lincoln Police force to get the skills needed for a team that size.'

The costs are high to equip a team. It costs $3,000 to outfit each officer. The funds from the grant were not enough to purchase the minimal set of protective equipment for each officer. The remaining funds need to come from community contributions. Other vital equipment is needed after those are purchased. Hopefully other businesses or organizations will soon consider purchasing the much-needed four more vests. Can you imagine sending your loved one into a situation where there are weapons that could be fired? These vests are essential to the types of situations the ERT officers will face. Speaking for Crime Stoppers, Hall said they are happy to be providing the funds.

The team members have been through initial specialized training, regularly go to training seminars and continue practicing together monthly. Sangamon has been their key training center and they are reputably known to provide the best training throughout the state of Illinois.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Our team has benefited greatly from great training and practices, says Butterfield. "They perform well as a unit," he said. "They’re good enough that they have had other teams come and observe them."

For now the team is still gathering essential equipment. First and most importantly, four more vests are still needed to help protect the lives of each and every one of the eight members of this special team.

 


[Photo by Jan Youngquist]

Note from Tim Butterfield, community policing officer:

We thank each of the donors very much for their what they have given us. This shows that the community is concerned for the safety of its officers.

We are still accepting donations to the team, and all donations will go toward buying bulletproof vests and other equipment needed for the safe operation of the team.

Special thanks to the following from the Lincoln Police Department Emergency Response Team:

Weyerhauser, formerly
Willamette Industries

State’s Attorney Tim Huyett

Woody Jones of State Farm

Eagles Lodge

Saint-Gobain Industries

El Rey Mexican Restaurant

Mrs. Laura Slaton

Lincoln/Logan Crime Stoppers

Fricke-Calvert-Schrader Funeral Home

Bonanza

S & N Fireworks Display

Mrs. Murray

Monsanto

Lincolnland Oil

And most recently Lincoln/Logan County Crime Stoppers

Thank you very much,

Timothy Butterfield

Community Policing Officer/

ERT team member

Anyone wishing to contribute funds toward vests or equipment is invited to contact either Officer Tim Butterfield or Chief Richard Montcalm at (217) 732-2151.

 

A little about Lincoln/Logan Crime Stoppers

Lincoln/Logan County Crime Stoppers Inc. was established in 1983. It is board run. All participants volunteer their time in an effort to provide a safer, better community.

Mission statement

The Lincoln/Logan County Crime Stoppers organization assists the various law enforcement agencies in the Lincoln/Logan County area by making funds available to:

  • Increase the safety of above agency personnel.

  • Help inform, educate and develop a community offensive for the prevention of crime.

  • Provide awards and rewards in the apprehension and convictions of criminals.

Board members for 2002 are Ron Hall, Rich Logan, Kriss Huff, Pete May, Melody Mack, Marla Givens, Roy Logan, Dave Perring, Ed Busch, Ken Greenslate, Regina Chapman, city adviser Bob Rawlins and county adviser Tony Solomon.

[Jan Youngquist]


Department of Public Health cites LDC
[JUNE 8, 2002]  The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) was notified today by the Department of Public Health (DPH) that the Lincoln Developmental Center (LDC) was cited for an Immediate Jeopardy (IJ). The IJ comes as a result of the facility's continued failure to ensure the safety and well being of the residents at the facility.

The Department of Public Health and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) are investigating the incidents that caused the IJ.

This latest Immediate Jeopardy is a result of two incidents reported to DPH within the past week involving a breach of appropriate supervision of two LDC residents. In one incident, an individual was left unsupervised and wandered away from his home without the knowledge of staff. The second incident involved an individual who was left unsupervised long enough to engage in self abusive behavior which had the potential for very serious injury. Medical evaluations were conducted on both individuals; each is doing well at this time, A third incident involving an individual who was left unsupervised for more than an hour was reported to DPH and OIG today. 

Currently, the LDC administration is developing a corrective action plan to attempt to abate the Immediate Jeopardy and plans to submit it to DPH on Monday. The IJ will remain in place until DPH accepts the abatement plan. This weekend additional training on how to provide proper supervision will again be provided to staff. Also, continued monitoring by the LDC administration and DHS' Office of Developmental Disabilities will be in place.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

 This is the eighth time Lincoln Developmental Center has been cited for failure to meet federal client protection standards in fewer than two years.

 This latest IJ comes on the heels of the Governor's reform plan to reduce the census of the facility to one hundred residents by June 30th. This reform plan was designed to create a safer and more manageable environment; an environment conducive to active treatment and client protection and one that could maintain federal standards.

[News release]

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Mt. Pulaski death under investigation
[JUNE 8, 2002]  Robert Harlow of Mt. Pulaski was found dead in his home at 6:00 a.m. this morning.  The Logan County Coroner’s office and the Sheriff’s department are investigating.  Arrangements will be made pending the autopsy in Springfield.  An inquest will be held sometime this month.


Illinois Senate week in review

[JUNE 8, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — As the spring session went into overtime, legislators approved a prescription assistance information hot line for seniors, expanded the DNA database and extended the rate freeze for certain utility customers, according to state Sens. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, and Claude "Bud" Stone, R-Morton.

The House gave final approval to legislation creating a comprehensive information line for seniors to find out all of the discount programs available to them. Nearly 52 percent of Illinois seniors are eligible for a state or federal prescription assistance program. Many of the other seniors are covered under private plans. But there are thousands of middle-income seniors who have no prescription coverage plans at all. The legislation also calls for a study of these seniors as well as seniors who have to set aside a significant portion of their income for their prescription medication.

The legislation (Senate Bill 2098) will:

•  Create a Senior Health Assistance Program offering a toll-free information hot line, in conjunction with local Area Agencies on Aging, where consumers can get information on public and private discount programs.

•  Establish legislative oversight of the state’s prescription assistance programs.

•  Mandate a study to determine the need for catastrophic pharmaceutical assistance coverage for seniors who do not qualify for public pharmaceutical plans but who have high prescription costs.

 

The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for further consideration.

In addition, the Legislature also sent the governor a bill to provide law enforcement officers with the tools they need to track down criminals and exonerate others by expanding the DNA database.

The legislation (SB 2024) was an initiative of DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett. It requires all convicted felons to give a DNA sample for criminal identification purposes. State police would be required to oversee the sample collection and use. The legislation is on the governor’s desk for further consideration.

In other news, the Legislature also sent the governor a measure (SB 2081) to keep the electric rate freeze an additional two years. Under the terms of the deregulation law, the current rate freeze would expire Dec. 31, 2004. The bill extends the deadline to Dec. 31, 2006.

The savings for residential customers through 2004 is projected to be about $2.8 billion. Although consumers may soon be able to purchase electricity from an alternate retail electric supplier, there are no companies lining up to supply residential customers, which is one reason for the extension. The legislation would save an additional $174 million on top of the $2.8 billion. The bill has been signed into law.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Other measures sent to the governor for considerations are:

Ethanol (HB 2) — Provides grants for fueling facilities built in attainment areas or metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 residents and requires a civic education program on the benefits of alternative fuels.

Child umpires (HB 5996) — Allows 12- and 13-year-olds to umpire Little League games.

Domestic violence (HB 4081) — Strengthens recidivist penalties for domestic violence and stalking violators.

Enhanced aggravated assault (HB 4179) — Increases the penalty for assault if the assault is committed against an employee of a police or sheriff’s department, an EMT, or other emergency personnel during their performance of official duties, and if a firearm is used in that assault. The sentence is enhanced to a Class 4 felony.

Poverty grants (SB 1983) — Increases the poverty grant amounts for schools with low-income concentration levels of 20-35 percent and 35-50 percent. This affects 141 school districts in the 20-35 percent category and 34 school districts in the 35-50 percent category, including Chicago Public School District 299.

Gift Ban Act (HB 4680)Strengthens the sweeping Gift Ban Act recently reinstated by the Illinois Supreme Court and makes it illegal for local and state government employees and officials to solicit campaign contributions from businesses or people they regulate.

 

Early retirement (HB 2671) — Allows state employees to purchase up to five years for age and five years of service credit toward retirement so long as the employees are off state payroll by Dec. 31, 2002.

Museum curator (SB 2130) — Authorizes a curator, appointed by the governor, to manage and control artifacts of the Executive Mansion along with the Historic Preservation Agency.

Cancer (SJR 57) — Urges Congress to require Medicare coverage of all oral anti-cancer drugs.

Hospital grant program (HB 4580-BIMP) — Creates a matching IEMA grant program for hospitals (outside of Chicago) to help improve quality of care, disaster response and patient confidentiality.

[News release]


Senate prescription drug plan
awaits action by the governor

[JUNE 8, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly has said yes. The future of a proposal to improve access for seniors to affordable prescription drugs is now up to the governor, according to Sen. Claude "Bud" Stone.

One of the final pieces of legislation to pass the legislature during the last days of the spring legislative session was Senate Bill 2098, co-sponsored by Sen. Stone. It was one of the few bills this year that won unanimous approval in both the Senate and House.

"We know this legislation is not a cure-all for the crisis facing many seniors who struggle to pay for ever-increasing prescription drugs," said Stone, R-Morton. "However, it is a step in the right direction."

Senate Bill 2098, which is supported by the AARP, addresses the senior prescription drug issue in a number of ways. It would create a central informational clearinghouse, accessible by a toll-free number, where seniors can get details on existing public and private discount programs. The legislation also authorizes a study to determine whether there is a need for catastrophic pharmaceutical assistance coverage options for those seniors who do not qualify for public discount programs but have a higher percentage of prescription drug costs. The proposal also requires legislative and public oversight of the state’s various prescription drug discount programs.

 

  

[to top of second column in this article]

"Given the state’s current budget crisis, this proposal seeks to do as much as possible to address the need for prescription drug assistance without creating a huge new entitlement," said Stone. "The hot line number will be very important for seniors because of a new federal, pilot program announced by President Bush earlier this year."

On June 1, Illinois began administering a $110 million federal pilot program called SeniorCare. SeniorCare will cover the cost of all prescription drugs and provide prescription drug coverage to an estimated 368,000 lower-income citizens through the state Medicaid program. The program will serve senior citizens at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($23,200 for a family of two). The program will cover the cost of all prescriptions (with a co-pay for each prescription) up to $1,750 each year and then pays 80 percent above the threshold.

Seniors can get help in applying for SeniorCare by contacting a local agency serving seniors. To find a nearby agency, seniors can call the Senior HelpLine toll-free, 1 (800) 252-8966 (voice and TTY) or visit www.seniorcareillinois.com.

[News release]


Part 2

Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center helps the disabled meet their goals

[JUNE 7, 2002]  They live in our community and are often part of our work force, earning salaries and shopping in our local stores. Although most of the time we don’t notice them, the developmentally disabled live beside us and, like the rest of us, strive to do meaningful work, make friends, continue their education, and live fulfilling lives.

An agency that helps them meet these goals is the Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center on South Postville Drive. Its mission statement says: "It is our goal to help people erase the limitations forced upon them by their disabilities. It is our job to create an opportunity for each individual who is ready to take a step toward independence."

[Click here for more photos]

[Click here for Part 1]

"Our clients don’t want to stay away from the center even when they have doctor’s appointments or other obligations, because they really enjoy having jobs," says Debbie Hilgendorf, supervisor of the Developmental Training Program.

Debbie’s clients work and learn in a series of busy, cheerful rooms behind the regular workshop. Like the clients, the people who work here don’t want to leave either.

Debbie herself has just finished her 18th year of working with the center’s biggest program. "It’s a great place to work," she says. "Some of my clients have been here as long as I have."

She supervises 225 clients at three sites: At Postville she has 140; at a State Street site she has 62, those who are severely and profoundly disabled; and at Logan Cottage on the grounds of Lincoln Developmental Center she has 22 clients, those who cannot function well in large groups because of behavior problems.

Many of the clients in the Developmental Training Program work half time and get paid for their work. The rest of their day is spent in classes. Some will eventually be promoted to the regular work program, and some may even "graduate" to working in the community. Others, though, need continual training in the living skills classes.

Work done here includes some of the piecework done in the regular work program but is more structured and supervised. It also includes janitorial work, such as cleaning the building, the bathrooms and the laundry room. This helps prepare clients for similar work in the community. All workers are paid, and all get two breaks and lunch.

 


[Photos by Joan Crabb]
[
Tony is making iced tea for lunch while Louise stirs her soup in the cheerful kitchen where clients learn how to live as independently as possible.]

Classes include cooking, doing laundry, meal planning, shopping and hygiene, along with academic skills, reading, writing and math. Clients also learn emergency and survival skills. A pay phone (not hooked up) provides training in calling 911 and in what to say to the operator.

Other classes teach socialization skills. Craft projects teach fine motor skills, attending to task and following directions, but they also teach clients how to work together side by side and even how to cooperate on a group project.

Computers are available where clients can practice reading and writing. Some clients even send e-mails to friends and relatives.

Dennis Bernahl’s ingenuity in making jigs is demonstrated in these classrooms. For clients in wheelchairs, he has built special frames that can hold a craft project at the right height. He has designed a thick pencil so a particular client can grasp it. He has even come up with a device that allows a wheelchair-bound client who doesn’t have the use of his hands to work at the computer.

This wheelchair patient is able to move his head (he steers his chair with his chin). He already had a helmet, so "Bernie" found some parts left over from another project and used them to attach a long pointer to the helmet at about forehead height. Today the client, wearing his helmet, pulls his chair up to the computer and begins to practice writing his name by moving his head to make the pointer touch the keys.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

The colors and shapes in the art room dazzle the eye. Pictures are displayed everywhere, some of which this reporter would have liked to take home and put on her own walls. Mobiles hang from the ceiling. No one wanted to take down the Christmas tree after the holidays, so the tree stays up and wears various seasonal decorations. Right now it is a picnic tree, decorated with tiny plates and utensils and small replicas of good things to eat.

Instructor Pat Caveny, who has been teaching art here for 14 years and before that taught for 19 years at the Lincoln Developmental Center, is still enthusiastic about what she is doing. Art work teaches fine motor skills, she points out, but even more important, it allows the disabled to express their innate creativity.

She’s able to come up with projects for people with a wide range of skills. For some it’s as simple as pasting a collage together, while for others it may involve creating complex designs in subtle but harmonious colors.

 


[One client likes to draw freehand pictures of sports logos, especially the Cubs and the Cardinals.]

Some of her clients have "a tremendous sense of color and design," she says — a statement that’s easy to believe after seeing the art they create.

She has clients who came here with her when LDC dropped its art program. "Some of my friends and I have been together for 25 years," she says.

Pat wears another hat, too. She runs the Special Olympics sports events for the developmentally disabled. Right now her athletes, including twins Jean and Jan who work in the regular program, are training for a track-and-field meet to be in Springfield in June. After that comes basketball. Special Olympics is an ongoing project throughout the year, limited only by the number of volunteers Pat can find.

Although the art room is a busy place, the woodworking room is empty. This brings up sad memories.

"When we lost clients from Lincoln Developmental Center, we had to cut staff," Debbie says. "It was the worst time the staff ever had. A lot of our staff, like a lot of our clients, have been here for a many years. We had known and worked with those LDC people for a long time."

Debbie lost 42 clients from LDC and had to lay off eight employees, which meant she didn’t have enough help to staff the woodworking shop, though she hopes to reopen it before too long.

"The staff didn’t want to leave, and it was really heart-wrenching to have our clients leave. There were a lot of tears during that time. Everyone took a turn having a bad day. Staff members took clients out to eat and bought them gifts, spending their own money."

More bad days will be coming if Gov. George Ryan succeeds in his plan to downsize the Lincoln Developmental Center to 100 residents. This will mean the loss of more clients and layoffs for more of Debbie’s staff.

"I’m lucky to have a wonderful staff," she says. Even though they know they may be laid off down the road, they’re sticking to their jobs until they see what happens."

Instructor Shelly Conley, who’s been an instructor for 15 years, is one who won’t leave unless she has to.

"I’ll be here until they boot me out," she says.

[Joan Crabb]


Gov. Ryan commends legislative
action on Lincoln Presidential Library

Expert panel, HPA to govern library and museum

[JUNE 6, 2002]  SPRINGFIELDGov. George Ryan applauded the General Assembly’s passage of a bill creating an operating structure for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum through a reorganization of the Historic Preservation Agency.

The legislation, passed by the General Assembly as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2003 budget, effectively forms two entities within the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency — one for the oversight of state historic sites and one for administration of the Lincoln Presidential Library.

“In preparation of the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library this fall, we have developed a governing structure and home within state government for this monumental project,” said Gov. Ryan. “With this reorganization, we will fulfill our pledge to maintain oversight of the library and museum within state government, yet still allow for a more independent operation as befitting an entity of this monumental importance.”

The legislation requires the creation of an advisory board of the Lincoln Presidential Library to advise the library and the future library director. Eleven individuals with expertise in history, research, cultural institutions, archives, libraries, business or education will be appointed by the governor to six-year terms with the consent of the Senate. The initial members’ terms will be one to six years.

The advisory board will work together with the Lincoln Library Foundation and recommend programs for implementation in support of the mission and goals of the Lincoln Presidential Library, recommend seminars or other conferences, and report annually to the governor, the General Assembly and the board of the Historic Preservation Agency.

The historic sites in the state of Illinois will be overseen by a 15-member group known as the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council. Council members will be appointed by the director of the Historic Preservation Agency for three-year terms and will include at least three historians, three architectural historians or architects with a preservation background, and at least three archaeologists.

Last October, Gov. Ryan asked a six-member blue-ribbon panel to advise him in the selection of a director for the Lincoln Presidential Library. The search committee made initial recommendations regarding the governing structure for the library and museum, the scope and responsibilities of the key positions, and developed an outline of the requisite qualifications which candidates for director will be evaluated. The committee is currently conducting a nationwide search for qualified individuals and will report their list of final candidates to Gov. Ryan.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Governor Ryan noted House Minority Leader Lee Daniels’ strong support for the library project and the governor’s panel.

So far, the panel has outlined a set of goals for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, including preserving the stature and reputation of President Lincoln, allowing for research and scholarship related to Lincoln’s legacy, creating an exhibition center for Lincoln artifacts, and sponsoring education, outreach and scholarly research.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a $115 million project that is a partnership of the state of Illinois, the city of Springfield and the federal government.

The complex will offer programs and public policy institutes in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Springfield. The library will house the world’s largest collection of Lincoln artifacts and documents — 46,000 items — as well as state-of-the-art exhibits that bring Lincoln’s legacy to life.

The library and museum complex is located in downtown Springfield, a few blocks from several important historic sites: Illinois’ Old State Capitol, where Lincoln served in the General Assembly; his former law offices; the only home he ever owned; and the railroad depot where he made his famous farewell speech to his hometown.

A live camera shot connected to the Internet currently shows a broad view of the construction area in downtown Springfield. To watch the Lincoln Library’s construction, visit the Lincolncam. Several views will zoom in on the library, the next-door site of the museum and nearby Union Station, a historic train depot that will be converted into a gateway building for the library and museum complex.

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]

 


First sewer bids in under cost

[JUNE 5, 2002]  Joe Pisula of Donohue and Associates, design engineers for the wastewater treatment plant, told the Lincoln City Council Monday evening that costs of materials for the upgrade to the city’s sewer plant have come in about 22 percent below estimates. That’s good news for city residents and businesses, who have already seen one hike in their sewer bills this year because of the need to make improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant to meet current Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Depending on the final cost of the plant and the number of grants the city can get, another raise in rates will be coming by the middle of next year. More grants and lower costs will mean less of a rate hike the second time around.

Grant Eaton, sewer plant manager, said the city saved from $350,000 to $375,000 altogether by bidding the equipment directly to the manufacturers, rather than having the general contractors bid the equipment.

The city council approved bids totaling $646,843 for nine pieces of equipment. The amount budgeted for the equipment was $832,095, a savings of $185,252. Equipment included screens, pumps, grit removal equipment, clarification equipment and blowers. All bids are subject to IEPA approval.

No bids that met the requirements were received for one item, a belt filter press, and only one bid that met specifications was received on each of the other nine items, Pisula said.

This was no surprise, he added, because the bids are "very specific," as required by the IEPA. The IEPA can impose these requirements because all of the money to upgrade the plant will come from a 20-year low-interest loan from that agency.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Pisula held up a thick set of documents to show what bidders have to do to meet IEPA requirements. "Non-compliance is common," he said. "The specifications are very convoluted, worse than the IRS, but those are the rules."

Although some bids came in at a lower cost than those that were accepted, these bidders did not fill out and sign all of the required documents, he said.

"You are better advised to stick to our specifications than allow those who did not comply to come in again with another bid. The IEPA or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can come in and inspect the project at any time and can pull the loan," Pisula said.

The belt filter press will be bid with Bid Package 2, which is for electrical and general contracting work. These bids will be opened June 11.

Mark Mathon, city engineer, said he thought the city would see the rest of the project come in under the amount budgeted, but he wouldn’t want to speculate about how much.

Eaton has said he hopes to see construction start in mid to late August. Actual construction is expected to take 240 working days.

Failure to upgrade the plant could mean the IEPA would no longer allow new hookups, and growth in the city would come to a halt.

[Joan Crabb]


Cool, wet spring

Will it be a warmer-than-average summer?

[JUNE 5, 2002]  "With statewide average rainfall of 7.52 inches (3.26 inches and 77 percent above average) and temperature of 58 F (4.6 F below average), May 2002 is the eighth wettest, coldest May on record in Illinois since 1895," says Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


May 2002 precipitation (inches)

"The heaviest precipitation in May fell in an area roughly bounded by Interstates 72 and 70 [see map]. This is the fourth wettest April-May period in Illinois since 1895, with 12.72 inches of rainfall (4.65 inches and 58 percent above average). With year-to-date precipitation of 20.51 inches (5.02 inches and 33 percent above average) statewide, it’s also the ninth wettest January-May period since 1895," states Angel.

While the widespread flooding experienced in Illinois may lead to comparisons with 1993, the timing was different. The April-May rainfall for 1993 was 8.48 inches, 0.55 inches above average, but much less than this year. The flooding in 1993 was more of a summer event, with the July-August rainfall of that year at 18.34 inches (6.80 inches and 59 percent above average), the wettest on record since 1895.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Several locations received more than a foot of rain in May. Beecher City reported 12.82 inches, Lovington reported 12.48 inches, Hardin reported 12.47 inches, and Medora reported 12.21 inches. Beecher City also reported the most precipitation for the April-May period, 19.69 inches, almost half the average annual precipitation in Effingham County.

All this cool, wet weather in April and May led to flooding and planting delays throughout the state. Even corn planted before the wet weather has progressed slowly. Ironically, delays in planting and crop development meant that little damage was reported when record-low temperatures occurred in northern Illinois on May 21 (31 F in Chicago, 29 F in Rockford, 30 F in Freeport and 25 F in Streamwood).

In addition to heavy rainfall, May also had its share of severe weather. A tornado in Centralia resulted in two deaths and 15 serious injuries on May 8. There were numerous reports of hail and wind damage across southern Illinois on May 1, 6, 8, 11 and 12.

Based on historical data back to 1895, wet summers do not necessarily follow wet springs. In fact, there is little correlation between wet springs and summer rainfall. However, warmer-than-average summers are less likely to occur following wet springs.

[Eva Kingston, editor, Illinois State Water Survey]


Earlier Sunday drinking hours
bring controversy to the council

[JUNE 4, 2002]  Should Lincoln residents be able to buy a drink at 11 a.m. on Sundays? Eight of the 10 city alderman thought so and voted yes Monday night, in spite of fervent pleas from Alderman Glenn Shelton and three members of the audience not to allow liquor to be sold during what has traditionally been church time.

The request, brought to the council several weeks ago by a group of liquor license holders, asks that the present 1 p.m. opening time on Sunday be pushed back to 11 a.m. so patrons of sports bars and those who go to early brunch can order liquor.

The move for the earlier Sunday hours isn’t new; it was part of a proposed change in the liquor code which the ordinance committee worked out a year and a half ago under the Joan Ritter administration, but which never got passed.

"I don’t want our town with a name that this is the place you come on Sunday mornings to drink," Shelton said. "I know we can do better. We can compromise. Eleven o’clock is too early."

Shelton also suggested that Alderman Steve Fuhrer, who is now chairman of the ordinance and zoning committee and who brought up the early Sunday hours for the vote, has a conflict of interest. Fuhrer’s wife, Susie, owns the Blue Dog Inn and holds a liquor license.

He said that even though the city attorney two years ago, Jonathan Wright, gave it as his opinion that Fuhrer had no monetary interest in his wife’s establishment, the situation has changed now that Fuhrer is ordinance committee chairman. Shelton himself was ordinance and zoning committee chairman when the liquor license changes were discussed previously.

Shelton asked for an opinion on the conflict of interest issue from the present city attorney, Bill Bates, and also for a written opinion from the Illinois attorney general’s office.

"Let us see that we are on solid ground before we vote on something," he said.

Bates said that although he hadn’t done "exhaustive research," he did not see a conflict of interest for Fuhrer. "Even though he is chairman of the committee, he still has only one vote," Bates said.

Fuhrer reminded Shelton that he had been on the ordinance committee when the liquor license issue was discussed during the Ritter administration and that both Wright and local attorney Nick Burgrabe had said there was not a conflict of interest.

He told the council he did not intend to "step away from this and not vote," even though that had been suggested.

"It has nothing to do with my wife’s business. She’s not open on Sunday; she’s not going to start a microbrewery; and she doesn’t need another liquor license."

Along with the earlier Sunday hours, the resolution calls for one extra license category to allow for a microbrewery and the addition of two more Class A package liquor licenses, bringing the total to 15.

Also, Fuhrer said, people have been waiting for almost two years for a decision on early Sunday hours. Under the previous administration, he said, "We spent hours and hours on this, and then it got dropped. I don’t want to take another six months to get something worked out."

Before the council’s discussion, three members of the audience spoke to oppose the earlier Sunday hours.

"I am concerned about the message we are going to send to this community, especially to young people," Gerald Carter said.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

"In this room, many years ago, people were packed down the stairs and out to the sidewalk regarding this issue. The decision made then was correct, not to change from 1 p.m. back to 11 o’clock.

"Sunday is a day that means a lot to people in this community. Most people are in church or going to church during these hours.

"Those who want this changed already have 6˝ days to sell liquor. Now they want another two hours. The ordinance as it now stands is sufficient. I urge you not to change it."

Charles Hamilton said he had been in Lincoln for more than 50 years and had seen many good things happen, but he didn’t think earlier Sunday hours would be one of them.

"When I came to Lincoln, Wednesday was church night. Schools didn’t schedule meetings on Wednesday night. Now coaches can insist that students attend practice any time, even on Sunday. Is this good?" he asked.

"Logan County has one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates. Is this good?

"We have lost several teenagers lately in alcohol-related accidents. Is this good?"

Oscar Owens, pastor of the Full Gospel Church, said the city is sending the wrong message when it extends Sunday drinking hours.

He said he had been a pastor in Lincoln for 25 years and had seen a lot of reports of people driving while intoxicated each week. He said he was also amazed that liquor could be purchased in gas stations.

"We tell our young people that marijuana and cocaine are bad, but alcohol is all right," he said. "I entreat you with all my heart, please send the right message."

Speaking up in favor of the earlier hours, liquor license holder Sean Taylor said the issue was not about young people but about adults.

"I respect your opinions completely," he said to those who objected, "but I want to increase my business so I can succeed. I ask that you look at it that way."

Fuhrer said he realized it was a "constant battle" to keep alcohol away from young people, but he did not believe he was sending the wrong message.

"I don’t see where two hours is going to hurt the city. I go to church every Sunday morning. People that are going to go to church will go to church. People that are going to frequent places that serve alcohol may not be church persons. People that are going to drink are going to drink."

A compromise, a suggestion by Alderman Verl Prather that the council not allow alcohol to be served until noon on Sunday, got lost in the shuffle, and the council passed the resolution allowing sales to being at 11 a.m. with only two no votes, from Shelton and Benny Huskins.

Huskins, however, pointed out that the vote isn’t the last call on the Sunday hours issue. The resolution as passed only directs the city attorney to draw up an ordinance changing the hours. The council must still pass the ordinance before liquor can be served in Lincoln on Sunday earlier than 1 p.m.

[Joan Crabb]


City to hire one new police officer

[JUNE 4, 2002]  In spite of the budget crunch facing the city and the hiring freeze put in place recently, the Lincoln City Council voted 8-2 Monday evening to hire a new police officer to replace Chris Carmichael.

Carmichael is one of two officers who resigned this year. He will leave the department in mid-June to join the state police. Carmichael has represented the Lincoln Police Department on a six-county drug task force, the Central Illinois Enforcement Group.

Police Chief Rich Montcalm has said it is vital to replace Carmichael, because in order to remain a member of the task force the city must have an officer on the force. He said that if Carmichael is not replaced and the city wants to remain in the task force, the department would have to eliminate its community police program.

Alderman Pat Madigan moved to hire one new officer, to begin training by June 17.

"I’m going to vote for this replacement," Alderman Verl Prather told the council. "Voting for it doesn’t mean we’re not in a financial bind, but we need to keep the task force and the community police program going."

"I’ll be voting no, after being finance chairman last year," Alderman Steve Fuhrer said. "We came up short $280,000 last year. Actually we don’t have the money to spend. I cannot in good conscience vote to hire somebody in two weeks and then lay off someone later."

Fuhrer has said several times that if the budget cannot be kept in balance, it may be necessary to lay off some city workers.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

"We must make do with what we have," he continued. "The reason we have some of these officers is the COPS grant we got four years ago. Now the grant has run out and we are paying for it."

The grant paid 75 percent of the salary and benefits of one police officer for three years, after which the city had to pick up the cost.

"This is a really tough vote but I am going for it," Alderman Joe Stone said.

"The task force is pretty important," Alderman George Mitchell added. "It is not like we are hiring any more officers," he added.

"We lost two and only replace one," Alderman Benny Huskins said, noting that the new officer’s wages would be lower than Carmichael’s.

The other officer who resigned was Mike Buchanan, who will not be replaced.

The council voted 8-2 to hire the new officer, with Fuhrer and Dave Armbrust voting no. The new officer will begin training on June 17, or, if that class is closed, can start the following week, Chief Montcalm said.

[Joan Crabb]


AFSCME hails passage
of a balanced budget

[JUNE 4, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — AFSCME Council 31’s leadership today hailed the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of a balanced budget yesterday after a long and difficult legislative session.

"There are victories and there are losses for AFSCME in this budget," said Henry Bayer, Council 31 executive director. "But the General Assembly has fulfilled its responsibility to deliver a balanced budget to the governor." On Thursday, May 30 the General Assembly rejected an unbalanced budget and proceeded, over the next three days, to make additional cuts and secure additional revenue initiatives until the budget was balanced, said Bayer

"This is what the governor asked for, and this is what the elected officials of Illinois delivered," he continued. "For months before these final days of negotiations, thousands of Illinois citizens have participated in this process, making their concerns clear to legislators."

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Bayer praised legislators for blocking the closure of prisons and the closure and downsizing of several mental health facilities. "Legislators carefully looked at the social costs to the state to cut these services, and they concluded that they were too high. Those costs will be just as high at the end of this month as they were at the end of last month."

Thousands of AFSCME members have lobbied legislators since the budget crisis began. Months of in-district meetings, pickets, letter writing and phone calls culminated with 5,000 AFSCME members at the Capitol for a May 7 lobby day. Members will continue this activism until the budget and revenue measures are signed into law, Bayer said.

[News release from AFSCME Council 31,
The American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees]


Budget keeps LDC open

[JUNE 3, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — After much discussion and controversy, Illinois lawmakers sent a budget to the governor Sunday, according to Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield. Among the changes from proposals earlier in the week, this plan includes funding to keep Lincoln Developmental Center open.

"I’m thrilled that Lincoln Developmental Center will remain open under this budget plan, but I’m sure the parents of LDC residents are even more happy to hear this news," said Bomke. "They have fought with me to keep this facility operational because they believe it is best for their children’s well-being. This is a great victory for them, and I would hope the governor agrees and signs off on this funding."

This budget, like the one approved by the Senate earlier in the week, includes $25 million Bomke hopes the Illinois Department of Corrections will use to avoid privatization of food services at state correctional facilities.

Layoffs were again included in the plan, much to Bomke’s dismay, but with the early retirement proposal he sponsored, many of those layoffs may be unnecessary. More than 7,000 employees are expected to take advantage of the plan, and only 6,500 were targeted for layoffs.

Overall, the budget totals nearly $23 billion in general revenue funds, which may force the governor to use his veto powers.

Details of the plan include:

•  $1.5 million from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Fund to the University of Illinois Springfield for governmental studies.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

•  No general tax increase and no pension bonding.

•  Increased taxes on cigarettes and wealthy riverboats and "limited securitization" of tobacco settlement funds with state backing.

•  Restoration of a portion of the Medicaid reductions, to ensure access to health care and that the state pays its bills to hospitals and health-care providers on time.

•  Expanded funding for the school construction program.

•  Full restoration of payments to service providers who work with developmentally disabled and mentally ill patients.

•  Nearly full funding for categorical grants to schools.

•  Short-term borrowing to allow the state to pay its backlog of bills. Without this, vendors may be forced to borrow at higher rates.

•  Decoupling from a federal corporate tax break on capital investments to save the state and local government money.

•  Paying back the Rainy Day Fund to ensure future budget stability.

[News release]


General Assembly passes FY2003 budget

Keeps Lincoln Developmental Center open

[JUNE 3, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate gave final legislative approval Sunday night to a new state budget. Sen. Claude "Bud" Stone said it’s a realistic plan, given the current economic climate in Illinois.

"For the first time in nearly a half-century, Illinois is faced with a budget year showing a decrease in revenue over year-ago income," said Stone. "That has led to several difficult decisions this year, including cutting spending and raising revenues in order to erase financial red ink of nearly two billion dollars."

Stone said the plan approved on the last day of session reflects the provisions unveiled in a proposal made by Senate Republicans in late April. Those Senate Republican provisions include a $500 million reduction in the state bureaucracy, the defeat of an income tax hike as was proposed, maintaining the viability and stability of state future pension obligations, and a 50 percent restoration of Medicaid funding cuts proposed by the governor back in February.

"The Medicaid program is a vital program to ensure access to health care for all," said Stone. This plan includes $330 million for hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, practitioners and managed-care providers."

The plan also keeps education a top priority. "The plan protects education from the budget cuts, with $6.2 billion for elementary and secondary education, a minimum level of $4,560 per student in state aid, and $1 billion for the successful school construction grant program," said Stone.

"I’m also very pleased this plan adds back funding to keep the Lincoln Developmental Center and the Zeller Mental Health Center open," he said.

In separate legislation, the Senate approved funding measures to fill a revenue hole in the budget plan. Those measures authorize a 40-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase ($240 million), which will also be used to partially fund an expansion of the school construction program; a hike in the riverboat gaming tax ($130 million); and a decoupling from the federal stimulus package ($240 million), which will keep equipment depreciation at its current level.

The legislature also authorized the state to borrow up to $1 billion to end the backlog of overdue bills. The state can borrow the funds for about 2 percent annual interest, as opposed to forcing vendors and service providers to borrow at rates four times as high in order to meet an income shortfall due to overdue payments from the state.

The following is a list of state government improvements to public infrastructure within the 45th Senate District:

•  Lincoln College, $2 million

•  Springlake Conservation Area, $500,000

•  Weldon Springs State Park, $40,000

Budget plan highlights

Agriculture

•  $1,500,000 for AgriFirst.

Corrections

•  Restores funding for the Hanna City Work Camp

Economic development

•  $2.5 million for coal research and development projects.

•  $1 million for continued ethanol research.

Elementary and secondary education

•  $33 million for mandated programs (94 percent funding)

•  $184 million for the Early Childhood Development Block Grant.

•  $1.8 million for agricultural education programs.

Higher education

•  Public universities would be funded at governor’s GRF proposed level.

•  $35 million for the grants under the Monetary Award Program.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Human services

•  $5.0 million for full-year funding of 110 new emergency CILAs for developmentally disabled people.

•  $2.45 million in transitional funding for 100 CILA placements for the developmentally disabled.

•  $40.9 million, or 18.3 percent increase for the Home Services program.

•  Includes full restoration of funding to human services providers, which was not included in the governor’s original FY03 budget recommendation. This amount includes an additional $16.5 million for MI Community Service grants, an additional $32.8 million for community-based services for the developmentally disabled and an additional $20.1 million for long-term care for the developmentally disabled.

•  $616.2 million for the department’s child-care program, with no increase in child-care co-pay.

Natural resources

•  $36.0 million for the Illinois Open Land Trust Program.

•  $5.2 million for Conservation 2000 projects and the Illinois Rivers Initiative.

Public aid

•  Implement SeniorCare program, offering expanded pharmaceutical drug assistance to all senior at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

•  $24 million for KidCare, to cover an additional 17,500 children.

Public safety

•  $1 million to fund Public Water Supply Vulnerability Assessments.

•  $14 million to fund the Brownfields Redevelopment program.

•  $252 million for financial assistance to local governments for sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities.

•  $98 million for financial assistance to local governments and privately owned community water suppliers, for drinking water infrastructure projects.

Seniors

•  Fully funds the Circuit Breaker/Pharmaceutical Assistance program. The FY03 appropriation of $138,500,000 will cover 256,000 property tax grants and 62,000 pharmaceutical participants.

•  $7,375,800 for the Elder Abuse and Neglect program.

•  $6,618,500 for home-delivered meals.

State police

•  Funding for 50 new cadets in FY03.

Transportation

•  $2.3 billion for the FY03 road program.

•  Increase of $4.1 million to downstate public transportation systems.

•  FY03 budget includes $45.6 million for rail transportation, including $27.0 million to continue work toward development of high-speed rail passenger service between Chicago and St. Louis.

•  Includes $10.6 million for Amtrak.

The Fiscal Year 2003 budget, approved by the Senate and House now heads to the governor for consideration. Fiscal Year 2003 runs from July 1, 2002, through June 30, 2003.

[News release]


Early retirement bill heads to governor

[JUNE 3, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — The long-awaited early retirement package for state employees is on its way to the Governor, according to Sen. Larry Bomke, chief sponsor of the proposal. Nearly 7,365 state employees are expected to take advantage of the plan, which would allow them to purchase up to five years of age and five years of service credit.

"I expect the governor to sign this legislation into law swiftly," said Bomke, R-Springfield. "This is certainly good news for state employees — both those who want to retire and those in danger of layoffs during the budget crunch — but the bottom line is early retirement is good for the entire state of Illinois for the cost savings."

Once signed into law, state employees may begin to elect early retirement beginning Aug. 1. To qualify for the plan, employees must be off state payroll by Dec. 31 and cannot be hired back or return to state service on contract.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

Employees must meet existing eligibility requirements for retirement, either under the "Rule of 85" (age and years of creditable service equal at least 85), at age 55 with 25 years of service, or at age 60 with eight years of service.

Additionally, House Bill 2671 allows employees to claim pension credit for voluntary or involuntary furlough days. SERS members may apply for up to five days of service credit for voluntary or involuntary furlough between Dec. 1, 2002, and Jan. 1, 2003.

[News release]


Governor commends General Assembly for working together in a bipartisan effort to pass state budget

$54 billion spending bill will allow state government to continue providing essential services

[JUNE 3, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Gov. George Ryan today congratulated the Illinois General Assembly for passing a Fiscal Year 2003 budget that reduces appropriations by $600 million from Fiscal Year 2002. The $54 billion FY03 budget is a compromise agreement that includes a mixture of spending cuts and new revenues.

"I want to thank all of the members of both houses on both sides of the aisle for taking up the challenge I laid out for them a week ago," Gov. Ryan said. "For the first time in almost a half-century our revenues are less than the year before. Tough choices had to be made, and the members of the General Assembly made a good-faith effort to work in a bipartisan manner and put a budget on my desk."

This budget includes General Revenue Fund spending of about $22.8 billion. It includes restored funding for health care and social service programs as well as an investment in children, which includes a $1 billion school construction program.

The legislature also passed additional revenues totaling $810 million.

•  $365 million will be raised through new taxes on tobacco and gaming. A 40-cent increase on cigarettes will generate 235 million in new dollars. Increasing taxes at riverboat casinos and boosting the admission fee for riverboat casinos from its current level of $2 to $3 will generate $130 million.

•  The governor has been granted the authority to raise up to $750 million by issuing general obligation bonds repaid by future payments for the tobacco settlement, building cash balances in the general funds and budget stabilization fund.

 

[to top of second column in this article]

•  Decoupling from the federal depreciation provisions and maintaining the current depreciation allowances for state taxes will save Illinois $240 million and local governments $150 million

•  Reallocating $205 million of existing revenue will involve keeping the state sales tax on photo processing in the state treasury (generating $25 million), reallocating a portion of the real estate transfer tax (generating $15 million), and transferring approximately $165 million of surplus balances in other state funds to general funds.

Gov. Ryan will thoroughly review all of the components of the compromise budget when it reaches his desk, and he will use his executive powers to ensure it is balanced.

"After I review the budget bill, we will be able to continue providing important funding for educating our children, providing critical health-care services to the poor and expanding pharmaceutical assistance for senior citizens in the next fiscal year," Gov. Ryan added.

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]


Wright takes stand against
‘backward’ budget process

[JUNE 3, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Jonathan Wright voted "no" on the state budget, taking a stand against the "backward" procedure in which legislators were asked to vote to spend money they weren’t yet sure they had.

"It makes absolutely no sense to me that we are asked to vote on the spending portion of the budget days before the revenue portion of the plan has even been finalized. In other words, we’re voting on how to spend money we’re not even sure we have yet. We wouldn’t manage or families’ budgets that way. We shouldn’t manage the state budget that way either," Wright said.

According to Wright, the plan approved by the General Assembly in overtime session includes a combination of cost reductions, funding cuts and tax increases to bring the budget into balance. He said that while it is an improvement over previous budget plans, he could not support the tax increases or the cuts to Medicaid providers that were not fully restored.

 

"This plan was a vast improvement over what we had been working with in recent weeks, and I am very pleased that we were able to secure the funding required to support 240 residents at the Lincoln Developmental Center. That said, there are also areas that I continue to be very concerned about, such as the 30 percent cut in Medicaid, and the tax increases that simply weren’t necessary," Wright said.

"My House Republican colleagues and I combed through state agencies’ budgets with the budget directors and identified more than $700 million in unnecessary spending that could be cut without impacting services to those in need. Had all of those cuts been included in the budget, we would have had a balanced plan and fully restored Medicaid funding — no tax increase necessary."

[News release]


Broadwell man loses life in single-vehicle accident

[JUNE 3, 2002]  Mark Allen Babbitt, 34, of Broadwell lost his life in a single-vehicle accident Sunday morning. Babbitt was declared dead at 3:10 a.m., according to Logan County Coroner Chuck Fricke. The accident took place one-half mile north of Broadwell when Babbitt lost control of his pickup truck and it overturned.

An autopsy was conducted Monday morning.

County and state police are investigating.

[Jan Youngquist]

[Obituary]

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