NEWS

State Briefs 1/18/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

John Stroger dies

COOK COUNTY -- John Stroger, the first black Cook County Board president, has died. He was 78.

Stroger’s son and current board president, Todd Stroger, said his father died at 8 a.m. Friday at Warren Barr Pavilion in Chicago from complications of a stroke he suffered in 2006.

“Today, my family mourns the passing of my father, John H. Stroger Jr., loving husband, devoted father and outstanding public servant. He dedicated his life to his family and gave generously of himself as an elected official. His love for this county knew no bounds and he will be deeply missed,” Todd Stroger said in a written statement.

In 1994, Stroger was elected to his first of three terms as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. His involvement with Cook County government began in 1970 as the 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman, when he worked on improving all the facets of public service.

Stroger suffered a crippling stroke a week before the Democratic primary in 2006, which took him out of the race as the incumbent for what would have been his fourth term as board president.

Stroger resigned from office that summer. A few months later, Todd Stroger was selected to take his place on the ballot and later won the election.

Chicago Suburban

Snow contest canceled because of no snow

ROCKFORD -- The 22nd annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition at Sinnissippi Park, which had been postponed until Jan. 23-26, has been canceled because there’s not enough snow on the ground.

The only other year it has been canceled because the weather wasn’t conducive was 2003.

Vance Barrie, public relations coordinator for the Rockford Park District, said Friday that even if 6 inches of the white stuff were to collect on the ground this weekend, the turnaround time for the event would be too short.

More than 100 sculptors had signed up, and it takes 40 people to make snow into blocks at Chicago Rockford International Airport for the competitors. Work schedules for participants can’t be rearranged forever, he said.

An inch of snow was on the ground Friday morning in Rockford, 2 inches short of the amount needed to make the blocks.

The competition was to have been Jan. 16-19, but was postponed because of a lack of snow. An average of 40,000 people each year view the sculptures.

Rockford Register Star

Teen dies from accident injuries

JOY -- A Joy teen died early this morning from injuries suffered in a Tuesday night accident in Mercer County.

A senior at Westmer High School, David Miller, 17, was pronounced dead at 4:30 a.m. at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. He was an organ donor and a recipient had already been lined up.

“He had a recipient for his liver, pancreas, both kidneys and heart valve,” said mother Kathy Miller of Joy. “This is something he had talked with us about several times.”

The recipient underwent surgery just shortly after Miller died.

According to a Mercer County Sheriff's Department report, Miller was driving a car that was involved in a one-vehicle accident just north of Hamlet along Illinois 94 about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday. He was taken by MedForce Helicopter to Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island and later airlifted to St. Francis.

A passenger in the car, Jackie Bertelsen, 16, Aledo, received minor injuries and was treated at Trinity and released.

Crisis team counselors were at Westmer Secondary School on Friday to meet with grieving staff and students.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Miller at Dennison Funeral Home in Aledo.

The Register-Mail

Winnebago reports 81 smoking violations

ROCKFORD -- The Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s received nearly 600 reports of people violating the state’s new smoking ban.

In Winnebago County, about 81 violations were reported to the Health Department, tobacco prevention coordinator Larry Didier said.

Most of the reported violations deal with poor signage on doors alerting patrons to the ban. Other violations were for people who chose to light up within 15 feet of an entrance or exit, Didier said.

In Chicago, about 54 violations were reported.

The smoking ban went into effect Jan. 1, making it illegal to light up in virtually every public place statewide.

Supporters of the measure say they thought complaints about illegal smokers would be higher.

Health authorities say they believe many places are enforcing the ban themselves or refusing to tattle on those who break the law.

Rockford Register Star

Grain shuttle project in the works

MACOMB -- Developers of a potential $25 million agricultural project between Macomb and Bushnell are seeking benefits from the McDonough County Enterprise Zone.

Western Grain Marketing, a partnership between the three local Farm Service companies and GROWMARK of Bloomington, is contracting with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to locate a grain shuttle in McDonough County. The facility would be at the junction of Illinois Route 41 and U.S. Route 136 north of Adair. 

The facility, which would handle about 50 million bushels of corn annually, would be almost straight off the "T" of the junction and adjoin the existing railroad tracks. The hope is to break ground in March.

The project would results in six permanent full-time jobs, said GROWMARK Vice President Davis Anderson. The three Farm Service companies involved in the project are Two Rivers in Schuyler and Brown counties, Riverland in Galesburg and West Central in Macomb.

Plans call for a 7,600-foot loop of railroad tracks on 143 acres.

Western Grain Marketing has already contracted for the purchase of the majority of land and homes needed.

GROWMARK asked the enterprise zone be expanded to include the project area. The request would require extension from either Macomb or Bushnell.

After two hours of discussion, board members voted to put off a decision for three weeks. That allows time to gauge public response to the project and to the zone request. 

Anderson said a 4-million bushel storage facility is part of the project. He added the decision to locate in McDonough County opens a new local market. 

"Logistically there is a (grain) hole here," he said.

Journal Star, Peoria

New radio station planned

KNOXVILLE -- A Skokie company plans to build a new radio station with a 700-foot tower in rural Knoxville.

The FM station would be an ABC affiliate and would play country music or classic rock, said Kun Chae Bae, of KM Communications.

"You need more choice," Bae said of area stations.

The company has a hearing next week before the five-person Knox County zoning board of appeals, said Kathy Wedell of the zoning department. An amendment to the zoning resolution will be required for the company to get a conditional use permit, she said.

KM Communications wants to lease 10 acres of farmland to erect a 700-foot tower and build a studio and office building, Wedell said.

Wedell said no one has voiced any opposition to the project.

KM Communications partners with other companies to own and operate more than 40 television and radio stations in the United States and Guam, including WMKB-FM outside Mendota and WDLJ-FM in Carlyle. Bae's wife, Myoung Hwa Bae, is president of the company.

Whehter KM Communications has a Federal Communications Commission license for the new station was unclear Thursday.

If the zoning board recommends approval of the conditional use permit, the Knox County Board will vote on the request at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Journal Star, Peoria

Spring Valley hospital to build new facility

SPRING VALLEY -- St. Margaret's Health announced plans Thursday to build a new $90 million facility on a 50-acre site.

The 200,000-square-foot 65-bed hospital will include a medical office building at the northwest corner of U.S. Route 6 and Dalzell Road within city limits.

The decision to build caps years of deliberation on whether to build a new facility or renovate the hospital, which is landlocked at 600 E. First St.

A Letter of Intent about the project was filed with the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board on Thursday. A certificate of need application will be filed with the state within the next 60 to 90 days. Planning is expected to last at least six months followed by three years of construction. Completion is expected in 2011.

Journal Star, Peoria

Top seats for Jonas Brothers held

PEORIA -- Peoria Civic Center officials will dust off an archaic system of selling concert tickets this Saturday when seats for the Jonas Brothers' Feb. 17 concert go on sale.

Seats in the first 20 rows of the arena will be sold only at the Civic Center box office, through the wristband process. The way it works is this: Fans can line up starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Civic Center box office to pick up wristbands, which will be distributed starting at 10 a.m. Only 350 numbered bracelets will be distributed, and officials will draw a number at 11:15 a.m. to determine who gets first crack at seats in the first 20 rows, which will sell for $49.50. If No. 80 is drawn, that person will be first in line, followed by number 81, 82, 83, etc. After number 350, the count will start back at one.

But getting a bracelet doesn't guarantee you'll get a ticket in the first 20 rows, said Marc Burnett, the Civic Center's director of marketing, as there are only about 800 seats in that section and each wristband holder can purchase up to four tickets.

Burnett said the decision to use wristbands, a process they haven't used in years thanks to increasing Internet sales, has to do with keeping scalpers at bay. Fans of acts such as the Jonas Brothers, who appeared on the show "Hannah Montana," often get peeved as scalpers snap up prime seats, causing shows to sell out in minutes. The scalpers then sell the tickets at highly inflated prices on sites such as eBay and StubHub.com.

The rest of the concert's 5,000 seats will go on sale at noon Saturday on Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com. For some, that may beat dealing with crowds at the Civic Center.

Journal Star, Peoria

Ad for 92nd District hopeful says she graduated; she says not yet

PEORIA -- Jehan Gordon, Democratic candidate for the 92nd District, claims in a radio spot and a mailing that she "graduated" from the University of Illinois but actually is three hours shy of an official degree, she confirmed to the Journal Star on Thursday.

She attended the university's Urbana-Champaign campus as a speech communications major from 2002 to May 2004 after completing 67 hours at neighboring Parkland Community College. She said she is taking an independent study course to make her graduation official and pledged to provide transcripts to the Journal Star today.

Because she participated in the graduation ceremony in 2004, she said she felt it was fair to say she in fact graduated even though her degree has not been officially conferred.

"If it looks to anyone that I have misrepresented myself, I apologize. That was never my intention," Gordon, 26, said, adding she will pull her radio ad and any campaign literature that specifically states that she "graduated" from the university.

She faces Allen Mayer in the Feb. 5 Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by state Rep. Aaron Schock.

The Pleasant Hill District 69 board member's election Web site only says she attended the university. She told the Journal Star editorial board earlier this month she did not yet have a degree, but was to get one this spring.

"Being honest with the voters about your qualifications is the best policy. Certainly the voters need the best information possible to assess who they think is the better candidate," said Mike Richards, Mayer's campaign spokesman. "We've been trying to keep this a more positive campaign and stick to Allen's message."

Gordon said she's completing her final class now - nearly four years after participating in the ceremony - because she got sidetracked because of work and participating in community activities.

Journal Star, Peoria

Negligence damages overturned in suit against doctor

SPRINGFIELD -- Because of a legal technicality, a Quincy man who a Sangamon County jury decided in November deserved to be paid $275,000 in damages because of a doctor's negligence won't receive any of that money.

Circuit Judge Leo Zappa threw out the verdict against Dr. Stephen Bell last week after learning that a previous out-of-court settlement Carl Robinson received from St. John's Hospital, along with $98,000 that Medicaid paid toward his medical bills, added up to more than $275,000.

Illinois law allows settlements related to a case to be subtracted from the final amount a jury awards in damages.

The jury could have awarded a higher amount - potentially requiring a net payout to Robinson - but didn't, so Bell said he considers Zappa's decision "an exoneration."

"I feel like I've been vindicated," Bell, a pathologist with Associated Pathologists Ltd., told The State Journal-Register.

Robinson, 54, who sued Bell and St. John's Hospital in 2000, said Zappa's ruling wasn't a surprise, but he disagreed with Bell's conclusion.

The jury sided with Robinson's argument that Bell was negligent in misdiagnosing him with cancer in October 1998.

"He can say anything he wants to say," Robinson told the newspaper, "but to my eyes, I still won."

State Journal-Register

Korean War museum taking former drugstore space

SPRINGFIELD -- A group raising money to build a Korean War museum here soon could be moving into the former Osco Drug store on Springfield's Old Capitol Plaza.

Larry Sassorossi, executive director of the Korean War National Museum, said Thursday plans call for the old Osco, which closed in July 2006, to house a gift shop, as well as an area with large-screen TVs to show what the future museum will look like.

"This will let people know what to expect when they come. ... It also solidifies our commitment to Springfield," he said.

The Korean War National Museum is to be built at Fifth and Madison streets, just a block from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Fundraising is under way. No construction date has been announced, but that could happen next month, Sassorossi said.

State Journal-Register

‘Habitual criminal’ denied new trial

GALESBURG -- A Galesburg man serving life in prison for armed robbery will not get a new trial.

In his decision made available Thursday, Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied a post conviction request by Charles Campbell, 53, the first man sentenced to life in prison under the Illinois Habitual Criminal Act. Campbell had argued there was a substantial violation of his constitutional rights because of juror misconduct in his 1992 trial.

The possibility the jury verdict may have been tainted came to light when a juror in Campbell's trial, Robert Taylor, was called again for jury duty in 2002. During questioning for jury selection, Taylor testified he was not sure he could be fair and impartial. Taylor told the court he and two other jurors believed Campbell was innocent of the armed robbery but after deliberating for over nine hours, the three hold-outs felt pressure to change their votes to guilty.

“Three of us thought the guy didn't have enough evidence but there was people there who said, ‘We got to get home and get our medicine. I got to take my blood pressure pill. I got to take my diabetic medicine.' So us three just gave in and said, ‘OK, he's guilty.' And this has been on my mind. I've been condemned with this ever since this man got life in prison,” Taylor told the court in 2002.

“I feel like I condemned a man that I will take to my grave that we as 12 people didn't as 100 percent say the man was guilty. We just gave up — three of us — and said, ‘OK, let's just say he's guilty.' So that's what happened,” Taylor said.

Taylor was issued a court order to appear and testify Campbell's post-conviction hearing on Dec. 4, 2007. After being instructed by Stewart that any testimony he gave could be held against him in future criminal proceedings, Taylor invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify.

In his ruling, Stewart wrote that while two credible witnesses, Terry Haywood and Tyson Haywood, testified that Taylor had second thoughts about his decision, neither man was able to prove Taylor recanted or changed his verdict because of improper jury influence.

Campbell was charged with the Sept. 26, 1991, armed robbery of a Galesburg gas station. He was previously sentenced to six years in prison in 1975 for armed robbery and 25 years in 1979 for armed robbery, rape and deviant sexual assault. His 1991 conviction of armed robbery, his fourth Class X felony conviction within a 20-year period, made Campbell eligible for a life sentence under the habitual offender statute.

Register-Mail