Earlier Sunday drinking issue
brings 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]

Experienced Mortgage Loan Officers needed
for nationwide company

Flexible hours

Please call Betsy
at 866-844-6600


is the place to advertise

Call (217) 732-7443
or e-mail

Our staff offers more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry.

Greyhound Lube

At the corner of Woodlawn and Business 55

No Appointments Necessary

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]

Tell a friend about

Lincoln Daily News.com

Celebrating American Theatre

Lincoln Community Theatre


Hello Dolly

June 14th - June 22
Johnston Center
for the Performing Arts

for ticket information, call 732-2640
or click here: http://www.geocities.com/

Want your ad to be seen all over Logan County?

Advertise with

Lincoln Daily News!

Call (217) 732-7443
or e-mail

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


•  $1,500,000 for AgriFirst.


•  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.


•  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.


•  $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]


Agency ready to fill the gap for homeless

[JUNE 1, 2002]  The Salvation Army of Lincoln and Logan County has just taken a giant step toward helping those who are most in need in our community and surrounding area. Logan County is in need of a transitional housing shelter. The agency is looking to fill that large gap. On Friday, May 24, they kicked off a capital building program at 307 N. Kickapoo St., the site where the new facility will be built.

There is no homeless or emergency shelter anywhere in Logan County! The need just keeps growing! While our streets are not lined with vagrants at night, there are numerous homeless people in the county trying to survive. They float from friend to friend, live out of their cars or survive by any means available. "The Army fills a niche that our churches cannot," explains Dr. Mark Searby, advisory board member.

The work of the Salvation Army is all about bettering the lives of the people who live in the communities served, including Lincoln and throughout Logan County. Its doctrine follows the mainstream of Christian belief, and its articles of faith emphasize God’s saving purposes. For virtually the entire 20th century, the Lincoln community has been able to turn to the Salvation Army in times of need. The new building will enable the organization to expand their community outreach and involvement.

The Salvation Army has worked well with other agencies in our community, integrating services and often picking up loose ends.

"The Salvation Army provides invaluable services to the city of Lincoln. We look forward to working with the Salvation Army in providing assistance to the needy members of the community and for the assistance they provide to the police department and other emergency services," said former Chief Rich Ludolph from the Lincoln Police Department.

As a whole, the agency is respected for their works throughout the United States. "The Salvation Army is by far the most effective organization in the United States. No one has ever come close to it in respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results and putting money to maximum use." — Peter Drucker, Forbes Magazine.

Last year alone nearly 600 people received Salvation Army assistance at home in Logan County.

Meet Michael Lee

Michael is a veteran who finds himself unemployed because of a medical condition that makes it impossible to do even light lifting without surgery. He has neither medical insurance nor public aid, though he has made numerous Social Security appeals. He lives on $125 worth of food stamps a month and adds to his income by selling items of junk he has collected from the streets. Michael is essentially unemployable, yet he qualifies for no assistance.

Michael cannot live without colostomy bags which, for the past year, have been paid for by the Salvation Army. He’s formed a special bond with the director, Curtis Sutterfield.

"I’d be in bad shape without the Salvation Army," Michael says, "For as long as I have been in Lincoln, they have been the only ones helping me. They help people where they need it."

Services the Salvation Army currently offers are:

*Emergency shelter


*Clothing and food

*Essential supplies

*Financial assistance


*Thanksgiving food baskets

Expanding for the future

The Salvation Army plans to:

*Expand services to include programs that will offer hope for struggling parents and needy children.

*Continue to grow in offering help for the hungry and homeless.

*Offer family development classes and training programs that promote healthy and functional families.


[to top of second column in this article]

[First floor of Salvation Army house]
[Click on diagram to enlarge]

[Second floor of Salvation Army house]
[Click on diagram to enlarge]

"We are excited about strengthening the future of our community! We want to raise $570,000 toward this new facility. This will enable us to expand our work, meet the needs of our county and continue to branch into new areas of service. We know we can count on your support to get this project completed!" — The Salvation Army of Lincoln and Logan County

The Salvation Army motto: Meeting physical needs of people through a spiritual focus, all around the world.

Budget breakdown for projected new facility

The project is expected to cost $700,000.

New building construction and contingency: $390,000

Shelter setup: $85,000

Operations endowment: $200,000

Campaign and office expense: $25,000

Total: $700,000

The Salvation Army has $130,000 from capital and insurance from the previous shelter fire, leaving a balance of $570,000 needed.

Naming opportunities

Family Development Center: $250,000

Community room: $75,000

Dining room: $25,000

Individual shelter rooms: $15,000 each

Living room: $10,000

Play area: $7,500

Logan County Salvation Army board of directors

Sonnie Alexander

Tony Cameron

Dan Curry

Dean Langdon

Mike Miller

Gary Newman

Dr. Mark Searby

Shawn Sillings

Roger Webster

Jonathan Wright

State Rep. Jonathan Wright is chairman of the campaign. Dean Langdon co-chairs.

[News release / Jan Youngquist]


Logan County included in the additional 38 counties declared disaster areas

[JUNE 1, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Gov. George Ryan announced Thursday that 38 additional counties have been added to the federal disaster declaration President Bush issued earlier this month. These counties sustained damage from the recent storms, tornadoes and flooding in Illinois. Gov. Ryan requested that these 38 counties be added, based on a review of damage assessments gathered by federal and state disaster recovery officials.

The newly declared counties include Adams, Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Iroquois, Jersey, Lawrence, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, McDonough, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Vermilion and Wabash.

These counties were added for individual assistance programs under the major disaster declaration issued by President Bush on May 21. Assistance will be made available to homeowners, renters and businesses to help them recover from the severe weather system that began on April 21. This new designation brings the total number of Illinois counties eligible to apply for the individual assistance to 68.

"I appreciate the federal government acting quickly to approve these counties for federal assistance," Gov. Ryan said. "This assistance will allow individuals and business owners an opportunity to begin rebuilding and repairing their damaged property."


[to top of second column in this article]

Affected residents and business owners may apply for assistance by calling the toll-free registration number, 1 (800) 621-3362, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. A wide range of state and federal disaster assistance programs that are available include funding for temporary housing, Small Business Administration low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance, and grants for serious needs and necessary expenses not met by other programs.

When calling to make application, it is recommended that callers have their current phone number, address where the damage occurred, Social Security number, a general list of damages and losses suffered, directions to the property, insurance policy number and insurance company or agent’s name.

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]

Senate votes to strengthen Gift Ban Act

[JUNE 1, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers once again have a comprehensive ethics reform law and are looking to make it even stronger, according to Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield. On Friday the Illinois Senate approved two changes to the recently reinstated law.

The 1998 law (PA 90-737) was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, once again placing lawmakers under restrictions banning personal use of campaign funds, gifts and fund-raising during session. The law also tightened disclosure requirements.

"Questions have come up in recent years that need be addressed under the Gift Ban Act," said Bomke. "Now that we have an ethics law back on the books, it’s time to make sure than no one else misunderstands the way things work. Government employees should not collect campaign contributions from the people they do government business with."

House Bill 4680 addresses recent controversy not covered by the current gift ban. Under this legislation, state and local government employees could not solicit or receive campaign contributions from anyone over which they have regulated business authority. This would also apply to salaried employees of state constitutional officers as well as employees of county, township or municipality officers.


[to top of second column in this article]

In addition to losing their jobs, employees found guilty of solicitation will face criminal penalties. To protect whistle-blowers, House Bill 4680 also prevents employees from being discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed or discriminated because they choose to obey the law and not solicit contributions.

In addition, the measure further clarifies the Gift Ban Act’s prohibition on gifts, banning those with a value of more than $100 per calendar year.

House Bill 4680 now returns to the House of Representatives for further approval. If signed into law, it will take effect immediately.

[News release]

Great Lakes July 4 festival canceled

Security requirements forced difficult decision

[JUNE 1, 2002]  GREAT LAKES — Due to prohibitive costs and insurmountable logistical challenges brought on by increased security requirements at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, the installation’s traditional July 4 festival will not be held this year.

After careful consideration of several options, officials at Great Lakes determined that canceling the event was the most fair-minded and most appropriate course of action.

Having the event on base would have required all guests without valid Department of Defense vehicle decals to park at an off-base location and be bused onto the installation. Not only would this require a significant outlay of funds, it would also lead to lengthy delays — as much as four to five hours by some estimates — to get guests on and off the base.

Another option considered was to have the event on base as in past years, but admit only authorized active-duty military personnel, military retirees and civilian employees of Great Lakes.

"We did not like the perception associated with this alternative," said Capt. Jerry Hart, the commanding officer at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. "We value our relationship with our neighbors outside the gates, and we do not want to send the message that they are not welcome.

"For the past 17 years we have celebrated July 4th with members of our local communities here at Great Lakes. We will join together in celebration again this year, but it will be done at the many local community festivals offered outside the gates. And to the greatest extent possible, we will spread our military performing units around this year to ensure that communities who wish to have a Navy presence at their event can do so."


[to top of second column in this article]

A third option considered was a possible partnership with a local community’s July 4 festival, but officials at Great Lakes found that unattractive for two reasons. First, such a partnership could create the impression of preferential treatment to one community. Second, Great Lakes would like to once again host a July 4 event on base if and when security requirements are relaxed enough to allow it. Establishing a partnership this year could make it difficult to move the event back to Great Lakes in the future.

"This decision was very difficult for us, but we have made the right one," Hart explained. "Our going-in position was that we would not sacrifice the wonderful relationship we have with our neighbors in our surrounding communities, nor would we elevate our bond with one community above that of another. We’ve met those two criteria. Great Lakes will still share its patriotic spirit with our community neighbors this year. Only the venue will change."

[News release]

Part 1

Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center helps the disabled meet their goals

[MAY 31, 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."

As its name states, the center serves clients in Logan and Mason counties — about 300 every weekday. They may live at the Lincoln Developmental Center, in community homes in the two-county area, with their families or on their own.

The outer office at the Postville site doesn’t begin to suggest the hive of activity in the workrooms and classrooms behind it. But about 30 of the most independent of the center’s clients aren’t in these friendly, busy rooms; they are out in the community going to work every day, earning salaries and paying taxes like the rest of us.

"They are in jobs all over town — at the Lincoln College cafeteria, at Lincoln Christian College’s cafeteria, at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s kitchen, at Burwell’s Travel Plaza, at Kroger’s, and in various restaurants and nursing homes — wherever their help is needed," says Peggy Ross Jones, who oversees the employment program.

"Our clients are doing real work," she adds emphatically. "We are not making up jobs. They keep their employers happy, and they are happy, too."

They get paid at least minimum wage for their work, and the money they earn is theirs to spend as they please.


[Photos by Joan Crabb]
[Brenda works at the hole cover machine in the regular work program.  She’s putting together a part for Inland Tool of Mount Pulaski.]

Most of them need some support in their working life, and the center provides this in several ways. For the most independent, there is a monitoring program to see that they continue to do well.

For others there are job coaches who go to the workplace and help the employer train them. These coaches can break down complex instructions into separate steps, help workers keep up with the pace of the job, and find innovative ways to help them follow instructions, such as color-coding parts of tasks for nonreaders.

"Before we had job coaches, we would send people out and hope they would do all right. Sometimes they didn’t. Now we are able to keep people in the same job for years," Peggy says.

For example, about 20 clients have been working with the Lincoln College food service for the last 12 years. These workers always have one or two job coaches on hand to help solve any problems that come up.

"A lot of our people seem able to handle repetitive jobs with specific routines that you or I would get tired of," Peggy says. "They are very valuable to employers who need routine jobs done over and over. They are a real service to the community."

Peggy not only coordinates the employment program, she makes sure all 82 of the center’s staff members stay up to date on their training. All get regular CPR training, and all must meet a state mandate for direct support training, including health, safety, human rights, and abuse and neglect prevention. Staff members who work directly with clients must have 40 hours of classroom training and 80 hours of on-the-job training to meet Department of Human Services requirements.

Peggy calls herself a "behind the desk" person. Another staff member, Vivian Thompson, also spends time behind a desk, coordinating programs to help clients live as independently as possible. She is, among other things, supervisor of community support services, case manager coordinator and coordinator of staffings in the day program. She works with clients who live independently, some who live in CILAs and those who live with their families.

People with mild disabilities can often live on their own if they have the right kind of support. This might be a homemaker program, help with money management and budgeting, and transportation to and from grocery stores and doctor’s appointments. Vivian sees that they get the services they need to stay independent.

Families who keep their disabled members at home may need help getting away for shopping or a recreational break, and Vivian helps coordinate respite care for them.


[to top of second column in this article]

Each client who comes to the day program has a caseworker. The caseworker is part of the team that makes an Individual Program Plan for each client, which addresses his or her need for vocational training, education, work and medical needs. Vivian coordinates these teams, too.

Director Gene Frioli has been in charge of the facility for 16 years. He is assisted by Carol McAfee, supervisor of administrative services, who has been with the center for 23 years. Its parent company is Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, based in Springfield, a not-for-profit community mental health agency.


[Twins Jean and Jan have worked at the rehab center for 16 years.  Both are both going to state in the standing broad jump for Special Olympics.  Here they use a rip saw to cut up lumber for cleats for Myers Industries.  Safety features allow workers to use these saws without accidents.]

Behind the office at the rehab center, the visitor steps into a room that looks like a machine shop. There is sawdust on the floor. Motors hum and whine and screech as 40 workers concentrate on their various tasks. The presence of a supervisor or even an unexpected visitor does not distract them.

This is the site of the regular work program, a sheltered workshop where clients make products for three area industries. It is staffed by supervisor Marcia Warner, definitely a hands-on rather than a behind-the-desk staff person. Working with her are instructor and safety officer Steve Coogan and Dennis Bernahl. "Bernie" designs the fixtures and "jigs" the disabled work on so they are safe and easy to use. Jigs are ingenious devices to help the clients perform specific tasks.

On this particular day, some of the workers are making wood products, screw cleats and glue blocks for Myers Industries of Lincoln. A pair of twins are cutting raw lumber into eight different sizes with a table saw. Others are trimming cleats to the right size, and still others are punching holes in each cleat at precise intervals.

"We’ve had this contract with Myers for more than 30 years," Marcia says. Other workers are putting together amp straps for Cutler-Hammer, another Lincoln firm. A plastic sleeve is slipped over a metal piece, and the whole thing is bent into the correct shape. Still others are "baking" the amp straps in a special oven.


[Marcia Warner, supervisor of the regular work program, demonstrates the drill punch, which has shields and slides so clients can work safely and precisely.]

An ongoing project is assembling kits for Cutler-Hammer; today workers are putting the correct number and type of screws and labels into packages. Altogether these workers assemble 40 kinds of kits for the Lincoln manufacturer.

"The Cutler-Hammer truck picks up and drops off work every day," Marcia says.

Inland Tool of Mount Pulaski is another of the center’s contractors. For this firm, a worker is putting foam strips around a hole in a metal plate. These pieces, access plates for gas tanks, will be sent to Mitsubishi Motors in Bloomington.

"We ship out approximately 7,000 to 10,000 parts each day," Marcia says. "All these firms are wonderful to work with, and their drivers enjoy coming over here to drop off and pick up the work."

Clients here work five hours a day, for which they are paid. They get two breaks and lunch. Not a single worker says he or she doesn’t like the job; all are quick to tell a visitor that they love it. Some proudly hold up finished products to show what they are doing without slowing the pace of their work routine.

Marcia likes her job, too. "I’ve got the fun job, because it’s so varied. I get to work with our clients, and I contact manufacturers and do bidding and procurement. And my clients and my co-workers are my friends."

(To be continued)

[Joan Crabb]

[Click here for Part 2]

Reading Rocks at library this summer

Giveaways for adults and children include bed and breakfast, maroon T-shirts

[MAY 30, 2002]  Reading Rocks at the Lincoln Public Library, where youngsters from preschool through sixth grade can sign up now for the summer reading program.

The program starts with the big kickoff event June 1 at the Lincoln Park District Recreation Center on Primm Road, where both youngsters and adults can travel back in time with the nationally acclaimed Pioneer Living Experience’s traveling museum. The reading program begins at the library June 3.

All kinds of prizes await youngsters who read at least one book per week and bring in their reading log. Special Reading Rocks T-shirts will go to those readers who reach the goals they have set for themselves, and area schools who log the most readers will receive a trophy at the end of the program.


[Photo by Joan Crabb]
[Four-year-old Teran displays one of the shirts that will be a prize for children enrolled in Reading Rocks, the Lincoln Public Library’s summer reading program.]

"We will suggest goals," says Pat Schlough, children’s librarian, "but we really want children to set their own. We want everybody to have fun with this program during the summer. It’s not going to be like a classroom."

Most of the prizes will come from local food establishments such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Domino’s and Hardee’s.

Based on the books read last year, librarians are expecting to give away at least 400 dark red T-shirts that say "Reading Rocks," but they’d be happy to give away more.

Suggested goals are 25 books for readers from preschool through grade two, 12 books for those in grades three and four, and eight books for those in grades five and six.


[to top of second column in this article]

Plenty of activities are waiting for young people at the library this summer. During the four weeks of June, the children’s library will have story time at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays and at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Story times are for children 3 to 5 years old.

Also at 10 a.m. on Mondays is the Harry Potter club, for those age 8 and up.

Craft time is scheduled for children in grades one through six on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m.

On Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. special programs, including magicians, bagpipe players, Miller Park Zoo animal visits, karaoke and puppets, will entertain the young people.

The same schedule is set up for the weeks of July 7, 14 and 21 There will be no programs during the week of July 1 because of the July 4 holiday.

Although there has been a children’s summer reading program at the library for 20 to 25 years, this is only the second year for the summer reading program for adults. This is open to anyone from ninth grade through adults.

Fiction and nonfiction, audio books, or magazines may be read, but the books must be borrowed from the Lincoln Public Library collection. Each time a book is finished, the reader fills out an information slip that will be entered in the weekly prize drawings.

Drawings start the week of June 14. That week, the prize is a car wash, wax and interior detailing from the Detail Shop.

The prize for the June 21 drawing is a gift basket from Abe’s Carmelcorn Shoppe, and the prize for the next week, June 28, is a gift basket from Prairie Years.

A $50 gift certificate from Lincoln IGA is the prize for the July 12 drawing, and a $50 gift certificate from MKS Jewelers is the prize for the week of July 19.

The grand prize is dinner for two at Capone’s plus an overnight stay in the Arabian Room at Eckert’s Bed and Breakfast.

For more information, visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call 732-5732 (Linda Harmon) or 732-8878 (Richard Sumrall).

[Joan Crabb]

General Assembly passes
electric rate freeze extension

[MAY 30, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Electric rates for residential customers of Illinois Power would remain frozen for an additional two years under legislation approved by the Illinois Senate, according to Sen. Claude "Bud" Stone.

"The freeze would keep customers’ electric rates at lower than 1996 levels," said Stone, R-Morton. "We passed this measure because there is such uncertainty about future electric prices as a result of deregulation."

Under Senate Bill 2081, the rate freeze on 750 kilowatt hours of usage will be extended to Jan. 1, 2007. It was due to expire on Dec. 31, 2004, under a deregulation law passed by the General Assembly in 1997. The legislation passed Thursday also retains the earnings cap provision included in the original deregulation law, which means that if utilities have excess earnings, they must share half of the excessive earnings with customers.

"The point of deregulation was to allow the consumer to have the freedom to choose to switch their electric service," said Stone. "The idea was to create competition and thereby lower electric rates. Since no alternative suppliers for residential electric power have come forward at this time, the freeze extension allows more time for such competition to develop. Meanwhile, it protects consumers from the volatile wholesale market which they would be exposed to after the freeze deadline was lifted."


[to top of second column in this article]

The 1997 deregulation law has already provided the climate for competition for business customers statewide, who have the option of choosing service from up to nine different companies. Mostly recently, the second phase of rate reductions went into effect in Illinois, lowering electric rates by 5 percent as of May 1, 2002, as called for under the original law. An initial 15 percent rate cut went into effect in 1998. Deregulation is expected to save consumers about $2.8 billion, with an additional $174 million under Senate Bill 2081.

Illinois Power has about 650,000 electric and natural gas customers in Illinois. Within the 45th Senate District, the utility’s service area includes DeWitt, Logan, McLean, Piatt, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

The Senate approved the rate extension legislation on a 58-0 vote, sending the measure to the governor for consideration. The proposal has the support of the Citizens Utility Board and AARP.

[News release]

Legislators fight to restore LDC funding

[MAY 30, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — As the budget process nears an end, state Reps. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, and Jonathan Wright, R-Lincoln, filed legislation Wednesday to restore funding for the Lincoln Developmental Center.

"Four hundred eighty local families and the local community would be severely affected by these proposed cuts," said Mitchell. "Our plan is to amend the legislation so that funding for 240 residents and 480 employees is included in the state budget."

Budget legislation passed by the Senate yesterday and sent to the House does not include adequate funding for the continued operation of LDC. The amendment proposed by Mitchell and Wright calls for $27 million to be appropriated to keep the facility open.


[to top of second column in this article]

"The House Republicans have gone through agency budgets line-item by line-item, and we have been able to identify areas of the budget that can be reduced that won’t hurt essential services and would enable us to keep LDC operating," said Wright. "For years, persons with severe developmental disabilities and their loved ones have come to rely on LDC for their care. We feel that it is in the best interests of the residents, their families and the local economy to keep this facility operating strong."

The lawmakers expect to vote on the budget amendment Wednesday and on a final state spending plan before June 1.

[News release]

Brauer pleads for LDC funding restoration

[MAY 30, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Rich Brauer, Republican candidate for state representative, announced his support of legislation filed Wednesday to restore funding for the Lincoln Developmental Center.

Brauer attended a press conference presented by state Reps. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, and Jonathan Wright, R-Lincoln, to show his support of the residents and employees of LDC.

"The governor’s original cuts would definitely impinge upon the residents, along with the families and employees, of the Lincoln Developmental Center," Brauer said. "I am backing Representative Mitchell and Representative Wright in their fight to restore these proposed cuts. This funding must be part of the new state budget."

According to Brauer, the amended legislation calls for $27 million to be appropriated to keep LDC open and in operation.



[to top of second column in this article]

"The revised budget has some new proposed reductions in the size of government; however, there is not enough. More can be cut without cutting Illinois’ vital services and programs," Brauer said. "I believe the House Republicans have found more areas that can be scaled back in order to restore funding to the Lincoln Developmental Center. The people of this area are counting on it."

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to pass a final state spending plan before Saturday, June 1.

Rich Brauer is the Republican candidate for state representative in Illinois’ new 100th District.

[News release]

Senate passes responsible budget; bureaucracy cuts made

[MAY 30, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Faced with a $2 billion budget deficit, the Illinois Senate passed a new Fiscal Year 2003 budget plan that contains $500 million in cuts while still protecting critical services, according to Sen. Claude "Bud" Stone. It’s the first hurdle in the budget process.

"Government must live within its means, and this budget does that," said Stone, R-Morton. "This is not a perfect budget proposal, but it is a responsible plan. It reflects our struggling state economy and meets our constitutional requirement for a balanced budget."

The measure maintains funding for priorities such as human services. "The Medicaid program is a vital program to ensure access to health care for all," said Stone. "This plan restores 50 percent of the Medicaid rate reductions originally proposed in February. There will be $330 million for hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, practitioners and managed-care providers."

The plan also keeps education a top priority. The budget "includes $6.2 billion to allow for a minimum level of $4,560 per student in state aid," Stone said. "Additionally, $1 billion would be allocated for the successful school construction grant program."

Stone says another key element in the budget included a decision to add back $25 million in previous cuts to the Department of Corrections. "This money will allow the department to make management decisions with[out] political pressures. They can use this money to avoid having to privatize prison commissaries," said Stone.

Budget plan highlights


•  $1,500,000 for AgriFirst.

•  $6,060,900 grant for Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Economic development

•  $2.5 million for coal research and development projects.

•  $6.0 million to provide bond-funded support to projects that will help increase the use of Illinois coal.

•  $1 million for continued ethanol research.

Elementary and secondary education

•  $67.5 million for the School Safety and Education Improvement Block Grant.

•  $5.8 million new appropriation for the governor’s new Universal Preschool Initiative.

•  $180.4 million for the Early Childhood Development Block Grant.

•  $1,881,200 for agricultural education programs.

Higher education

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

Human services

•  $5.0 million for full-year funding of 110 new emergency CILAs for developmentally disabled people and $6.5 million for annualization of 250 CILAs developed in FY02.

•  $2.45 million in transitional funding for 100 CILA placements of developmentally disabled people, evenly phased over the course of FY03.

•  $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 developmentally disabled people.

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


[to top of second column in this article]

Natural resources

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

•  $5,250,000 Capital Development Fund to be transferred to the Conservation 2000 Project Fund for projects associated with the Conservation 2000 program 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.

•  KidCare spending will increase by $24 million to cover an additional 17,500 children. KidCare spending will total $209.5 million in FY03 and provide health-care coverage for an estimated 208,300 children.

Public safety

•  $1 million to fund Public Water Supply Vulnerability Assessments. This program allows the IEPA to provide grants to public water suppliers for vulnerability assessments in order to combat potential terrorism threats on the state’s various public water systems.

•  $14 million to fund the Brownfields Redevelopment program, which helps fund the cleanup of brownfield sites throughout the state by providing grants to local governments.

•  $252 million for financial assistance to local governments for sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities, under the Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan program.

•  $98 million for financial assistance to local governments and privately owned community water suppliers, for drinking water infrastructure projects under the Drinking Water Loan program.


•  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.


•  $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 Senate approved the plan on a vote of 30-26-2. The proposal now heads to the House for consideration. Lawmakers have until midnight Friday to send a final budget plan to the governor. After that, it will take a three-fifths majority to approve any budget proposal.

[News release]


Attrition in police department
tests city’s month-old hiring freeze

[MAY 29, 2002]  The resignation of officer Chris Carmichael, who represents the Lincoln Police Department on a six-county drug task force, is severely testing the hiring freeze the city council set in place a month ago to help solve city financial problems. Carmichael is the second police officer to resign within the month.

At Tuesday night’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, police committee chair Pat Madigan placed the possibility of hiring a replacement for Carmichael on the agenda for the June 3 meeting. Carmichael will leave the department June 16 to join the state police. Officer Mike Buchanan, who resigned effective May 7, was not replaced.

Chief of Police Rich Montcalm said if a new officer is hired immediately, that person can begin training at the state police academy June 17. Otherwise, training cannot start until September.

Montcalm said it is vital to replace Carmichael, who works full time and some overtime with the Central Illinois Enforcement Group (the task force). Six methamphetamine labs have been located in the city in just the month of May and 18 in the preceding year. He said the task force is an important asset for clearing them out.

The six counties involved are Christian, Logan, Macon, Mason, Morgan and Sangamon. Christian, Morgan and Sangamon supply two officers each, and Logan furnishes one. To remain a member of the task force, the city must also supply an officer.

If someone is hired, a current officer would be transferred to the drug task force and the recruit would replace that person on patrol, according to Montcalm’s plan.

Steve Fuhrer, former finance chair, said that although he supports the police department, the city should not hire a new officer while layoffs are under consideration. "We just said there was going to be a hiring freeze," he said, adding that no time to begin replacing was set when the freeze was put in place. "We’re going to have to tighten our belts, promote from within and make do with what we have to get the city back in financial shape." He noted that attrition benefits the city budget.

Alderman Bill Melton reluctantly agreed. "The timing couldn’t be worse," he said. "This is an important position, but still … we are desperate for funds."

Montcalm indicated that if the city council wants to continue in the task force but not to hire an officer, he will eliminate community policing programs.

He noted that, if Carmichael is not replaced immediately, the state will reclaim the unmarked vehicle it supplied for task force use. Some equipment in the car was furnished by Lincoln police and will be kept. The covert equipment supplied by the state will go back with the vehicle. If an officer is hired later, the city will bear the cost of re-equipping the car.

The city attorney, Bill Bates, urged council members to determine the overtime costs if no officer is hired. Like other items discussed Tuesday night, the issue is on the agenda for the June 3 council meeting.


[to top of second column in this article]

A second pending issue is changing the earliest hour when liquor can be served in public establishments on Sunday. Currently, the time is set at 1 p.m. Sean Taylor of Logan Lanes argued for a starting time of 11 a.m.

At the council meeting Taylor gave four reasons: First, it is difficult getting teams to travel for bowling tournaments if they cannot buy liquor early in the match. Second, football pre-game shows begin at 11 a.m., and fans at sports bars want to be able to drink as they watch. Third, NASCAR races also start at 11 a.m. Finally, brunches are most often served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and restaurants want to be able to serve wine.

Prior to the council meeting on Tuesday night, the four members present of the five-member ordinance committee voted unanimously to recommend changing the hour to 11 a.m. for establishments that currently hold 1 p.m. Sunday licenses. The license fee would remain the same.

Other liquor ordinance issues which will come before the council on June 3 are creating a microbrewery license category and a possible additional license. The latter issue involves a particular case, but ordinance committee chair Fuhrer was not sure what type of license would be needed.

All three issues are on the June 3 agenda. If they pass, ordinance amendments will be drawn up and voted upon. If those pass, there is still a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect.

Also at the ordinance committee meeting, Tom Albert and Reggie Payne of Albert Service recommended that the city begin an inspection program for plumbing, heating and electrical upgrades. They showed photographs of faulty and dangerous wiring and plumbing in two local homes, one of which Albert said had been completely rewired within the past year.

Albert and Greg Tarter raised the issue of electrical inspections at the May 14 meeting. Fuhrer said he has collected codes from Bloomington and a smaller city. The committee will consider these in investigating the issue.

Finance chair Verl Prather added an early retirement policy for city employees to the June 3 agenda. The policy provides that employees who are at least 50 and have at least 20 years service can buy five years more on their retirement. Employees must pay their share of the five years within two years. The policy would offer a one-year window of opportunity. September 2002 to September 2003 is the period currently being discussed, but the council could set any year.

City Clerk Juanita Josserand said only two employees of the street department have expressed interest in early retirement, and money is available through a special Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund levy to cover them. As a special levy, the money cannot be used for any purpose but retirement funding. Bates warned that costs should be figured for all eligible employees. "If you pass it," he said, "they might develop an interest quick."

[Lynn Shearer Spellman]

Illinois Senate approves budget plan

[MAY 29, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — A balanced budget plan approved Tuesday by the Illinois Senate holds some hope for area jobs, according to Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

Bomke made a last-minute decision to support the proposal after the Senate included an additional $25 million for the Department of Corrections. This money could be used to keep sergeants on the job and to avoid privatization of prison commissaries, two ideas the governor proposed in his address on Memorial Day.

"I have fought against layoffs and against privatizing food services," said Bomke. "This certainly isn’t the budget I have worked for, but the plan approved today includes some of the ideas myself, AFSCME and other lawmakers have introduced to help save jobs for area families. The addition of money for Corrections today helped me change my mind. Once this money was added back to the budget, I felt I could support the plan to keep the process moving."

If lawmakers do not agree on a budget by Friday evening (May 31), it would take a three-fifths majority to gain approval. If negotiations drag out too long and the state’s fiscal conditions worsen, state employees could go without paychecks, something Bomke didn’t want to see in light of impending layoffs.

While this plan still calls for nearly 6,500 layoffs, Bomke hopes many of these positions will be filled due to increased funding for DOC, attrition and the early retirement package he sponsored. More than 7,000 state employees are expected to take advantage of this plan.

"No one wants to see area families out of work," said Bomke. "It’s my hope that many if not all of the displaced workers will be able to fill openings created by the early retirement proposal."


[to top of second column in this article]

The plan represents $22.5 billion in general revenue funds and balances cuts in spending with revenue enhancements, something Bomke and other Senate Republican lawmakers have fought for during budget negotiations. It also restores nearly $323 million in previous cuts to much-needed services.

Other highlights of the plan include the following:

•  $6.2 billion for education including $3.18 billion for general state aid and Hold Harmless, giving a foundation level of $4,560 spent per pupil in state funding.

•  Expanded funding for the school construction program.

•  $1.5 million for the AgriFirst program to market and package Illinois commodities locally to increase their value and create jobs.

•  $200 million in funding for LIHEAP to help low-income families with their gas and heating bills.

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

•  $40.9 million (18.3 percent increase) for the Home Services program as well as full restoration of funding to human services providers. This amount includes an additional funding for mental illness community service grants, developmental disabled community-based services and developmentally disabled long-term care.

•  Partial restoration of the Medicaid rate reductions proposed by the governor in February. This will ensure access to health care and that the state pays its bills on time to hospitals and health-care providers.

[News release]

Gov. Ryan announces
bioterrorism summit in Illinois

[MAY 29, 2002]  SPRINGFIELD — Gov. George Ryan announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health will team up with the Illinois Public Health Association to sponsor “Preparing the Heartland,” the Illinois Bioterrorism Summit 2002. The May 28-30 summit at the Hyatt Regency Oak Brook will provide a comprehensive overview of the federal, state and local bioterrorism preparedness activities and bring together approximately 800 public health practitioners and first responders.

"This multidisciplinary program was designed to benefit a broad range of public health professionals involved in bioterrorism response," Gov. Ryan said. "The conference will provide the latest on preparedness activities, health and medical plans, emerging diseases, and new treatment methods."

State homeland security and public health officials will be joined by other conference speakers, including Richard Preston, a journalist and best-selling author of nonfiction books about public health disasters, including “The Hot Zone,” and “The Cobra Event.” Neal L. Cohen, M.D., commissioner of New York City’s Department of Public Health, also will address the conference. Dr. Neal will discuss his involvement in the events surrounding Sept. 11, including confronting the anthrax threat in Manhattan.


[to top of second column in this article]

According to state Homeland Security Director Matt Bettenhausen, "The program content is especially relevant to state and local health professionals with responsibilities in bioterrorism emergency response, along with those involved in public health administration, environmental health, nursing, communicable disease, laboratory, food protection, immunization, hospital emergency services and other health areas."

The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. John Lumpkin, added: "The ultimate goal is to provide conference attendees with new ideas and practical information to assist them in preparing their communities."

[Illinois Government News Network
press release]

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Letters to the Editor