State Briefs: 11/10/07 and weekend

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Alleged spitter pleads not guilty

ROCKFORD — A 16-year-old Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits employee accused of spitting in the food of a Loves Park police officer pleaded not guilty in Winnebago County juvenile court this morning.

The teenage boy, a student at Auburn High School, faces an aggravated battery charge as well as drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.

Following his official denial of allegations today, he is scheduled to return to court Dec. 19.

The boy is accused of spitting in Loves Park Officer Jeff Petty’s spicy chicken sandwich before it was served to the officer at the restaurant’s drive-thru on Sept. 23.

If convicted, the penalty is up to five years in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, though the teen must be released upon his 21st birthday, or up to 30 days in detention and up to five years’ probation.

Decapitated man identified

Wayne K. Simpson, 52, Pontiac, has been identified as the man whose decapitated body was found in a tow truck early on Thursday morning at the western edge of Pontiac.

Livingston County Coroner Michael P. Burke said on Thursday that no foul play is suspected at this time.

The tow truck was found near the intersection of Routes 116 and 66 after a passer-by reported the truck going through parking lots and across both lanes of Route 66 at 4:27 a.m. The person called LIV COM to make the report.

The truck, owned by S&R Route 66 Auto Center, 1026 W. Reynolds St., came to a final rest in an embankment behind Mike's Glass Plus, according to Pontiac Police Maj. James Woolford.

Woolford said Simpson's head was found by officers responding to the S&R lot.

S&R owner Jeff Semmens told other media that he was told by authorities it appears Simpson wrapped a chain from an S&R tow truck around his neck and around a pole before driving away.

Semmens also told the media that Simpson had left a note but police had not shared the contents with him.

Mediation with pilots continues

ROCKFORD — Mediation between Ryan International Airlines and its pilots will continue through at least mid-December as both sides hope to avoid a strike next year.

The two sides met last week for another round of contract negotiations, and both sides say they agree on most points. However, the last issue — how much pilots are paid — is the most contentious.

“There’s quite a divide on compensation, a significant divide between the pilots and management,” said Capt. Erik Sparks, head of the Air Line Pilots Association International’s Ryan chapter. “We’re asking for parity with other like carriers in the realm that we operate in and we’re significantly lower than some of these carriers.”

Mark Robinson, vice president and secretary for Ryan, said the Rockford-based charter airline doesn’t want to negotiate publicly but is optimistic a deal can be reached soon.

“We appreciate our pilots, we acknowledge their contribution to Ryan and we certainly want to come up with an agreement as quickly as possible to focus everyone on continuing to grow Ryan and continuing to serve our customers,” he said. “Our pilots and our employees have made us one of the most flexible airlines in the world. ... We want to keep them in the game.”

The two sides are in their third year of negotiations. Another mediation session is scheduled for mid-December. If that doesn’t lead to an agreement, the pilots could walk away from the mediation process. After a 30-day “cooling off” period, they could strike.

The ATLA has earmarked $2 million to help the pilots prepare for a strike. The money pays for a media campaign, communication between members, picket signs, volunteer costs and a strike office. It does not include money to pay for lost wages, but the ATLA could later grant some money for that, too.

Ryan has about 800 employees, about 250 based in Rockford, Robinson said. Of those, 160 are pilots represented by the union.

The company’s planes and crews fly troops around the world, often through Chicago/Rockford International Airport, for the U.S. Department of Defense. It also flies for the U.S. Department of Justice, Bolivian airline AeroSur, and vacation companies Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations and Gold Transportation.

Candles ignite blaze that kills South Peorian

PEORIA - A South Peoria man known around town as the "bicycle man" died

early Thursday when candles left unattended next to a stack of

newspapers ignited his bedroom.

Artie L. Davenport, 59, of 1025 S. Shelley St. was pronounced dead about

4:45 a.m., about an hour after a passerby noticed smoke surrounding his

small, ranch-style home.

Davenport, a "junker" who had a knack for repairing bicycles and other

mechanical devices, had lived the last two days without electricity and

used candlelight to maneuver through his house.

Remnants of candles found in the kitchen, living room and bedroom were

clues to firefighters that he was using the candles for light.

The fire was contained to Davenport's bedroom, located on the north side

of the house. Firefighters found Davenport's badly burned body near the

bedroom window.

Two smoke detectors were found in the house, but the battery from one

had been removed. The smoke detector closest to Davenport's bedroom

appeared to be operable, but whether it activated is unknown.

A functioning carbon monoxide detector beeped repeatedly from somewhere

within the house seven hours after the fire was reported.

Farmington police officer says he's a target

FARMINGTON - A nine-year veteran police officer ordered off duty because

he parked his squad car in a city garage, investigated a case he wasn't

assigned to and disregarded department policy when he spoke to a Journal

Star reporter, says he is the target of Police Chief Jim Arrington.

Arrington has ordered Officer Don Radosevich, 48, to remain off duty

until he undergoes a psychological exam.

"His motive is clearly to eliminate me," Radosevich said. "I'm just not

fitting the mold."

Radosevich said Arrington is the sixth police chief he has worked for.

Other chiefs have left for reasons ranging from personal problems with

city officials to an overwhelming workload, with some keeping the job

for only a few months.

Arrington had been a police officer for 27 years when he became

Farmington's police chief in March 2005.

Radosevich said morale isn't good in the department of four full-time

and three part-time officers, but he gets along with everyone but

Arrington.

Arrington initially gave Radosevich three unpaid days off after an

argument between the two officers. But then Arrington came to

Radosevich's home with a letter ordering him to get a psychological

examination. Arrington declined to discuss specific charges against

Radosevich because it's an internal matter.

"We must think there's something going on," he said. "There's a reason

we would do this."

Radosevich said he isn't a danger, and he doesn't want to lose his job.

Future of Canton restaurant uncertain after fire

CANTON - The future is uncertain for the Feaster's building after a

Wednesday fire destroyed the inside of the popular Main Street eatery.

"We're really upset, but consuming the upset is the relief that no one

was hurt - especially firefighters," Feaster's owner Tom Herbst of

Farmington said.

Investigators don't yet know what caused the fire, and Herbst will meet

with fire and insurance officials in Canton on Friday to assess the

damages. He won't know until after that whether he will renovate the

building or have it demolished.

"I'm pretty sure it would be immensely more expensive to save it than to

tear it down," he said.

Herbst also owns Farmington Pizza Company. James Herbst, his son,

managed Feaster's.

About 20 employees who worked at Feaster's are looking for new jobs,

Herbst said. He bought the restaurant 10 years ago and invested about $400,000 in renovations.

Alleged drunken driver careens through downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD -- An allegedly drunken driver with no license was arrested Thursday after he sped through downtown Springfield at midday, crashed into two cars and nearly hit a third with police investigators inside.

Authorities said they found marijuana and a handgun in the car driven by Samuel Britz, 39, of Cantrall. He was taken to Sangamon County Jail after he finally stopped in the lot of an auto shop at Ninth and Scarritt streets.

Britz allegedly continued on to Ninth Street, and he pulled into the lot of the auto shop in the 1100 block of South Ninth, where he was arrested.

Britz's Chevrolet Cavalier had a flat right front tire and damage on the passenger side from the front to the back.

When Britz crashed into the two cars at Fifth and Adams streets, police said, the bumper fell off his car, license plate and all.

It is not clear where Britz had been, where he was heading or why he tried to flee.

He really didn’ t talk to us,”  said police Lt. Greg Williamson. “We believe he may have been involved in a disturbance before we came in contact with him, but we weren’ t able to confirm that.”

Multiple charges are being sought against Britz, including driving under the influence, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of marijuana, aggravated fleeing and eluding, and driving on a revoked license.

Springfield park to be accessibility model

SPRINGFIELD – A $426,000 grant from Tony the Tiger's parent company is will help make a planned new park a model for other communities   in making their parks friendly to those with special needs.

A total of $760,000 will be spent on that portion of the Edwin Watts Southwind Park project.

The money will pay for state-of-the-art signs throughout the 80-acre park, emergency call boxes in a variety of locations, specialized golf carts so the disabled can make their way through on an extra-wide path, and hand-held radio devices so the hearing impaired can keep in touch with each other, others in their parties and staff members.

The signs alone will be innovative. Each will have four components: written words, Braille, symbols for those who can’ t read, and a motion detector that will sense when someone is standing in front of a sign, so the sign can give verbal directions.

“Our first vision of the park was so elementary that this is like building skyscrapers now, compared to a hut,”  said Butch Elzea, who is leading fundraising efforts for the park. “This is a national model of a universally accessible park. There is no model that exists for this.”

Contributing: Rockford Register Star, Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal-Register, Pontiac Daily Leader.